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Cinnamon diplomacy and WPC revelry amid ethnic strife

25 June 2014 08:36 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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ri   Lanka is known for ‘tea diplomacy’ conducted to boost its volume of tea exports. Its renowned brand ‘Ceylon Tea’ is, in fact, Sri Lanka’s gift to the world. Now, the government, in the revision of its foreign policy, is apparently engaged in cinnamon diplomacy in its novel approach to strengthen diplomatic links with Latin America.

Sri   Lanka is the largest cinnamon exporter in the world, and, in fact accounts for as much as 80 per cent of Cinnamon supplies to the world market.  Latin American countries are the major importers of Sri   Lanka’s cinnamon. Actually, Brazil and Mexico import the bulk of Sri Lanka’s cinnamon quills.

On the sidelines of the recent G77 + China meeting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris held talks with his counterparts in Bolivia and Chile. He also interacted with the Defence Minister of Brazil and Vice President of Costa Rica.

During these meetings, the government sought the need to increase the volume of its bilateral trade with these countries, with special emphasis laid on cinnamon exports.





Latin America seeks to benefit from SL experience in combatting terrorism
Besides, these countries showed their interest in benefiting from Sri Lanka’s counterterrorism strategies. Most Latin American countries are grappling with various forms of terrorism. Hence, they expressed their desire to try the methodologies adopted in Sri Lanka in the elimination of terrorism that plagued the country for three decades.

In addition to defence co-operation and trade relations, the discussions centred on bilateral co-operation in the achievement of economic growth with equity.  Latin America is a region mostly with left -leaning governance.  It is natural for such governments to focus on ensuring equity for their citizens in the enjoyment of benefits of economic development.






Mr. Sivajilingam, in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was to note that the 13th Amendment would be meaningless in addressing the   political aspiration of the Tamil people. He urged India to apply pressure on the Sri Lankan government to evolve a federal solution instead






Aluthgama violence - Muslim countries query law and order
The dust has not yet settled on the outbreak of communal violence in Aluthgama, Beruwala and nearby areas.
The incidents drew widespread international attention, even prompting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to issue statements condemning violence and demanding action against the perpetrators.

The United   States issued a statement soon after, and it was followed by a communique from the European Union delegation accredited to Sri   Lanka and the Maldives.  Besides, Norway, Turkey and Switzerland aligned themselves with this EU statement on the riots that claimed three lives and caused wanton damage
to property.

As the international spotlight increasingly flashed on Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris met a group of Ambassadors and High Commissioners of the Muslim countries on Monday at his Ministry.

The discussion was attended by Aziz Ahmadzada, Ambassador of Afghanistan, HarimawanSuyitno, Ambassador of Indonesia, Mr. KahtanTahaKhalaf, Ambassador of Iraq, Zuhair Zaid, Ambassador of Palestine, Abdul Aziz Jammaz, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, Iskander Kemal Okyay, Ambassador of Turkey, Abudlhamid Al Mulla, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Sufiur Rahman, High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Azmi Zainuddin, High Commissioner of Malaysia, S.K. Ahmed, High Commissioner of Nigeria, Qasim Qureshi, High Commissioner of Pakistan, Reham Alfeqig, Deputy Head of Mission of Egypt, Ebrahim Khari, Charge d’ Affaires of Iran, Ahmad Almairi, Charge d’ Affaires Kuwait, Kamal Benalashnar, Charge d’ Affaires of Libya, Rajab Al-Habshi, Charge d’ Affaires of Oman, and Dr. Hassan Niyaz, Deputy High Commissioner ofthe Maldives.

These ambassadors, particularly, based their questions on the enforcement of law and order, the payment of compensations to the affected families and the plan for
the future.

The Minister, flanked by his officials, detailed out how the government took prompt action to bring the situation under control. “The disruptive elements consist of an extremist fringe on both sides, and it is necessary to be balanced in any proper appraisal of the situation,” he said.
The Minister said that he was with President Mahinda Rajapaksa when news of some disturbing events first reached the President in Bolivia.  He described the prompt action taken by the President in getting in touch with religious leaders, the security establishment and the political authority.  Leaders of parties within the government rushed to the scene and played a significant part in calming passions and bringing about understanding.  Prof.  Peiris expressed particular appreciation of the salutary initiatives by prominent Buddhist monks and Muslim clerics in assembling as a matter of urgency and restoring calm.
He said the law enforcement authorities were rapidly deployed to bring the situation under control.  To assist the police, the army was called out initially in Aluthgama and Beruwala, and subsequently in Welipenna and Matugama.  While about 60 persons were arrested, 47 were retained in custody.
Pre-emptive action was taken, in the form of arresting persons resorting to provocative conduct or being found with material which could have been used to disrupt the peace.

While the immediate requirement was, of course, the establishment of order, the government attaches great importance to measures designed to thwart the actions of a small minority intent on creating religious discord. 

With this objective in view, a vigorous civil society campaign involving the business community, professionals, organisations and academics is being organised to ensure amity, he continued.  A country that has paid a heavy price for communal discord over a period of three decades, will certainly resist with all the energy at its command, any effort by fringe mischievous elements to promote divisions and antagonisms, he stressed.

A vicious campaign is being carried out to malign the government, Prof. Peiris said.  This campaign, he elaborated, had two aspects.  In its internal dimension, it is a direct attempt to alienate the Muslim community from the government.  

The external expression of this campaign has as its objective the purpose of driving a wedge between Sri   Lanka and Muslim countries, with a view to weakening our country in international fora, the Minister observed.  The skillfully conceived and co-ordinated character of the campaign was apparent, and substantial funding as well as other forms of material support from foreign sources was also in evidence, he said.



Sivaji courts Jayalalitha for federalism  
M. K. Sivajilingam, a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member of the Northern Provincial Council (NCP), has become a lone voice in many matters in the council. Whatever the party stand is, he sticks to his guns in politics, and sometimes, looks vigorous in such attempts. When NCP Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran took oaths before President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a gesture of goodwill, Mr. Sivajilingam did it in Wellamullavaikkal where the final battle took place, decimating the LTTE leadership.  The TNA remains engaged with India for a solution based upon the 13th Amendment. But, Mr. Sivajilingam, in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was to note that the 13th Amendment would be meaningless in addressing the   political aspiration of the Tamil people. He urged India to apply pressure on the Sri Lankan government to evolve a federal solution instead.

Mr. Sivajilingam, whose public statements are often laden with fiery rhetoric on Tamil nationalism, set the stage for another controversy on Tuesday by writing a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha Jeyaram, in which he recognised her demand for the Kachchativu  Island. Tamil Nadu politicians urged the central administration to take over this island. However, the central government of India has repeatedly announced its policy stand that this island was well within Sri Lankan waters, and that it belonged to Sri Lanka.

The NCP politician, who is related to slain LTTE leader Velupillay Prabhakaran, is slated to give a fillip to Jayalalitha’s political antics. Ironically, he sent this letter on the same day that  Jayalalithaa renewed her plea for nullifying what she described as “unconstitutional” Indo-Sri Lankan Agreements of 1974 and 1976 on Kachchathivu islet and demanded steps be taken to restore the traditional rights of Indian fishermen, as quoted in the Indian media In the same letter, she wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his personal intervention to secure the release of 11 fishermen detained in Sri Lanka.

“It is with a deep sense of anguish that I write to you again to report one more incident in which 11 fishermen from Tamil Nadu along with their three boats have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy,” she said in her letter to Modi, as quoted by Indian media.



WPC  members make merry
The members of the Western Provincial Councils, barring those of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), cast aside their political differences in exchange for revelry, recently. These members had   a get-together with a lot of merry-making with music, games of cricket and dancing.

The actors turned WPC members including Rodney Fraser (United National Party) and Ravindra Yasas (Democratic Party) sang songs while other members danced to their musical rhythm. After the event, Mr. Yasas mooted an interesting idea to Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga.

“We are very loyal to our Chief Minister. Shall we make a musical band? It is better for us to have one. Then, we can play at the family events of provincial council members,” he said.

The Chief Minister, however, chose to propose a drama team instead. “We have enough and more actors elected to the Council. So, we can easily have a drama team,” he said amid guffawing by others.

A cricket tournament also featured the event. The members formed themselves into teams and played.  Eventually, the team captained by UNP member George Perera won the cup, and the runner- up was the team of ruling party member Mahesh Almeda.

Government member Jagath Angage was adjudged the best bowler and member Sulochana Gamage the best fielder.  Ruling party member Senaka Damayantha Perera was declared the best batsman and member Piyal Nisantha the man-of-the-match.

When George Perera was awarded the cup, member Salochana Gamage, in lighter vein, remarked, “This is the only thing you get for the whole term of the council. So take care of it”. Jagath Angage, the best bowler, is the former Health Minister of the Council. He was not given the portfolio this time.  George Perera, whose team won the cup, had a dig at him. “You bowl now after you were stripped of all the portfolios,”
he said.



Wigneswaran boycotts function to
The apartment complex in Gurunagar, Jaffna, destroyed due to terrorism, was renovated and declared open after 29 years recently.  Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda, Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa and Northern Governor G.A. Chandrasiri attended this event.  However, Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran boycotted the event despite being invited. His name had also been mentioned in the commemorative plaque.
The housing complex was constructed at a cost of Rs.110 million.
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