Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion's visit to Sri Lanka is the second in 13 years and there is a common denominator. Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranilw Wickremasinghe welcomed former Foreign Minister Bill Graham in 2003 and recently welcomed the current Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion. Sri Lanka's president in 2003 was Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Current president of Sri Lanka is Maithripala Sirisena.
The following report has been received from Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Canada says delays in implementing reforms, economic stability, and good governance are not in the public interest despite government's positive engagement in implementing the UN Human Rights Council resolution and its mechanisms which was also co-sponsored by Canada.
Visiting Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion urged the government to implement what remains of the resolution to be implemented.
He lauded the commitment to establish the Office of Missing Persons, and the release of some lands in militarized zones, but added that "much more remains to be accomplished."
He stressed that the trauma of war remained profound amongst the people with emotions still to heal". "The reconciliation journey will be long and strewn with obstacles, but it is important to focus on the future. The long-term objective must be to respect distinct identities while working to bring them together to strengthen the whole country. In a time where apprehension between people of different cultures is causing havoc, trust must triumph."
He also reminded Sri Lanka of the importance of meaningful international involvement in such accountability and reconciliation mechanisms.
Sri Lanka should take advantage of this momentum to move forward on other reforms, including the strengthening of good governance and economic stability. It is clear that delays in the implementation of these critical reforms are not in the public interest and urged the government to accomplish the remaining part of the process.
He said Canada is pleased to resume a constructive political dialogue at foreign ministerial level. "Canada encourages an inclusive process in Sri Lanka, that welcomes the participation of all of society and advocates peaceful pluralism."
Canada will be sharing its experience on issues such as official languages, the devolution of power, sustainable economic development, and empowerment of women, legal expertise and youth skills development.
He emphasized Canada's interest in meaningful involvement in the promotion of official languages, saying that process was 'critical for advancing the Government of Sri Lanka's reconciliation efforts, and fostering an inclusive society'.
"To this end, Canada is offering its support to the Government of Sri Lanka to advance the delivery of public services in both Sinhalese and Tamil. Canada's official languages journey has not always been a smooth one, but the effort and investment is worth it."
There is a need to focus especially on communities most directly affected by the conflict. Canada is ready to contribute to the re-establishment of livelihood opportunities for those displaced.
Canada will contribute $11.2 million over five years for the National Languages Equality Advancement Project to improve the delivery of government services in both official languages and by increasing awareness and acceptance of the bilingual nature of Sri Lankan society. Canada will contribute another $8.8 million over four years for the establishment of an Entrepreneur Financial Centre in Sri Lanka, a project implemented by Developpmente International Desjardins, in partnership with Sanasa Development Bank.
Canada would like to explore our trading relationship, because this is for the mutual benefit of both of our people. Partnership opportunities are on the horizon in sectors such as aviation, infrastructure, power supply, clean technology and agri-foods.
Canada to fund $8 mn for SME sector
Canada will contribute $8.8 million over four years for the establishment of an Entrepreneur Financial Centre in Sri Lanka.
Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Diona said yesterday the project will be implemented by Développement International Desjardins, in partnership with Sanasa Development Bank.
“The Centre will help stimulate private sector development and support job creation by improving livelihoods for entrepreneurs of micro, small, and medium enterprises,” Dion said at a joint press briefing held at the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday. “Canada would like to explore our trading relationship, because this is for the mutual benefit of both of our people. Partnership opportunities are on the horizon in sectors such as aviation, infrastructure, power supply, clean technology and agri-foods.
“Canada will also be there if unexpected events happen in your country, like the flooding and resulting landslides in May this year. And we are ready to assist Sri Lanka in tackling climate change, not least because of its impact on the frequency and severity of natural disasters”, Dion said.