Dayan makes controversial exit speech

Outgoing Sri Lankan Ambassador to France Dayan Jayatillake, in a farewell speech to the Sri Lankan community in France, has said it was not his job and would go against the spirit of what he was doing, to identify himself with or serve one political party.

“I was however faced with certain situations or combination of factors which you are well aware of. Now I will not go into that but I will just say that what I have stood for here has been the following. And it is by standing for these principles and these ideas that we have enjoyed your support, understanding and solidarity. I have stood for the idea that the main duty of a Sri Lankan Ambassador in any part of the world is to represent his or her country in the country or state to which he or she is accredited. Now this does not mean the neglect of the Sri Lankan community but that is not the primary function of a Sri Lankan Ambassador,” he said.

He further said it was not his job and would go against the spirit of what he was doing, to identify himself with or serve one political party, or one faction or one family, or one religious denomination, or one linguistic community, while representing his country.

“My wife and I thought that it was our duty to represent the totality of Sri Lanka, not simply this or that component which thought that it was by definition privileged, or should be. We were totally opposed to the idea which was implicit among some but explicit in the writings and publications of others, that there should be unequal treatment; that certain elements in the community should have privilege, if not a monopoly, for a variety of reasons, be they politics, ethnicity, language, religion, or whatever. I really did not care about that because that is not what Sri Lanka means. I represent the country, and parochial prejudice is not what being Sri Lankan is or should be. Certainly if one had functioned in that way it would have been the worst possible message to the people and Government of France about what Sri Lanka stands for. My diplomatic practice has been informed by these ideas. I saw absolutely no incompatibility between the ideas of what a democratic Sri Lanka are and the values and ideas of France,” he said.

Dayan Jayatillake’s term in France will end next month.