President Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday the world leaders whom he met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly sessions in New York had a good impression about Sri Lanka and expressed goodwill towards the positive changes introduced by his Government to uphold democracy, good governance and reconciliation.
At a media conference held in the Loews Regency at the conclusion of the 71st UN General Assembly, he said all world leaders including heads of State and top officials of the leading international organisations including the UN, WHO and UNHRC had congratulated him and lauded Sri Lanka’s progress during the past 18 months since he assumed office as President.
“These leaders welcomed the progress we have made and pledged their fullest support to Sri Lanka’s development and good governance programme. They have new hopes of helping us to get out of the current economic crisis and to develop our country. I remember when I came to the UN Summit last year, we had just formed the new government and the foreign nations had only hopes that we would be able to bring democracy back in Sri Lanka. Today after one year they are satisfied with the progress we made in such a short time. The most important change we did was the passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution ensuring independence of many public sector institutions.”
The President noted that it was not only regarding democracy and good governance but the work done in other areas such as environmental issues, that had earned Sri Lanka the goodwill of the international community. He said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was appreciative of the Government's efforts towards ratifying the instruments pertaining to entry into force of Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
When asked whether the Outcome of the November 8 US presidential elections would affect US policy towards Sri Lanka, the President said, “The election will bring a new President to the US. But that will not change American policy towards Sri Lanka. These issues are not determined by persons but by policies. We know there will be no change of work we have put in motion to restore democracy in our country and to strengthen our relations with the international community. Similarly there will be no change in the US stance on Sri Lankan affairs.”
Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka said, “The world leaders are impressed with the performance of national unity government. One of the key reasons these leaders a taking a new interest to help us is President Sirisena's honesty. Many leaders appreciated his policy of not telling the country one story and a different story to the international community like the leaders of the previous regime."
Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera said Sri Lanka’s new foreign policy which abhors duplicity would bring in more victories to the country in the near future. 'The previous government’s policy distanced many friendly nations from us," he said.
Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said, "I have been attending all UN General Assemblies since 2006. There is certainly a change in the attitude of towards Sri Lanka by other nations. That renewed friendliness is the result of President Sirisena’s conduct."
When asked to comment on Opposition MP Dullas Alahapperuma finding fault with the Government for not protesting against outgoing UN Secretary General’s statement seeking to form a new union comprising Myanmar and Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Samaraweera said, "I regret the attempt made by Dullas to misinterpret what the UNSG said. The UNSG did not talk of forming a new union. He only appreciated the post-war developments in the two countries. When I go back to Colombo, I will send him a correct translation of what the UNSG said."
Ministers Arjuna Ranatunga, Ajith P. Perera, Faiser Mustapha and Wijayapala Hettiarachchi were also present.