Government to shut some missions abroad

“We have put in place a clear, stable and results based foreign policy that provides tangible benefits to all our citizens. Already in the last year there have been some notable successes. First, following the consensus-resolution at the Human Rights Council in Geneva this September, Sri Lanka is no longer a pariah state – we are regaining our place as a respected and principled member of the international community and the community of democratic nations. As the cabinet-ranking US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, put it and I quote “I can’t think of another country in the entire world where you have seen such change in such a short period of time,” unquote,” he said.The Foreign Minister also noted that Sri Lanka is beginning the process of re-establishing links with the many Sri Lankans overseas who had lost faith in Sri Lanka. He said that over the last year, the Government replaced a self-defeating foreign policy that lined the pockets of the few, with a foreign policy based on the principles of good governance that serves the interests of all Sri Lankans. The Government is to close down missions abroad for which no clear rationale exists, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera informed Parliament today.He said that Sri Lanka also intends to introduce Non-Resident Ambassadors to further cut-costs and to establish a presence where a full-scale embassy cannot be justified but where Sri Lanka’s interests need to be furthered. “Perhaps most importantly, we intend to create the necessary systems and policies to ensure that our diplomatic service is able to perform at the highest levels of excellence. This also means creating systems to take punitive measures where required for wrong-doing and sub-standard work, in order to ensure that the reputation of vast majority of conscientious and ethical officers is preserved. To this end, we are in the process of re-introducing the system of inspectors-general who will visit our missions abroad and report on compliance and performance,” he said. “We have restarted the engagement with the Diaspora that was started soon after the end of armed conflict by former President Rajapaksa. Many individuals and organisations who did not have confidence, are now inspired to make a genuine and positive contribution to Sri Lanka’s reconciliation and development journey. My colleagues and I have had meetings with leaders in the Overseas Sri Lankan community – which consist of many eminent doctors, statesman, businessmen, lawyers, musicians, writers and even chefs. There is an overwhelmingly positive response and we hope to take concrete measures to transform that goodwill into tangible contributions towards reconciliation and development over the coming year,” he added. (Colombo Gazette) read more