By Jamila Najmuddin
The Sri Lankan government maintains it will not formally respond to the EU letter sent last week with a set of conditions to obtain GSP plus, despite the deadline to respond looming and the EU saying it was awaiting an official reply.
External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris told reporters last week that he will not respond to the EU letter and Ministry sources told Daily Mirror online the government remains firm on that stand and will not even send a formal letter to the EU rejecting the set of conditions.
“The government is firm that it will not even send a formal letter to the EU as a rejection or any sort of response to the EU. There will not be any communication with the EU on this matter,” a top official at the External Affairs Ministry told Daily Mirror online.
EU High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton and Commissioner De Gucht invited the Government of Sri Lanka to respond to the concerns by 1st of July and give a written commitment to implement some recommendations in order to obtain a temporary extension of the GSP for the country which ends in August this year.
Minister G.L Peiris, who is authorized to respond to the letter, is due to fly to Ukraine on Tuesday with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on an official visit, just two days before the deadline to respond to the EU letter expires.
The Brussels based European Commission press officer for Trade Marie Antonie Kerwien had told Daily Mirror online over the weekend that so far, the government of Sri Lanka has made its views known only to the media and so the EU would therefore prefer to recieve the official answer of Sri Lanka before communicating its next step.
However the press officer noted that the European Commission remains committed to support Sri Lanka in its efforts to tackle the challenges it faces in terms of human rights, reconstruction and reconciliation and if Sri Lanka so wishes, is ready to continue the dialogue on the necessary steps to bring the country into compliance with the relevant international conventions and to become again eligible for GSP+ benefits in the future. (Daily Mirror online)