Leader of the opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa says lack of proper communication affected Sri Lanka’s relationship with India.
Speaking at a forum in India today, Rajapaksa said that the bilateral relationship between India and Sri Lanka had been good at times and not so good as well.
However, he said it was important for both countries to understand the trends that impact both countries and best explore them to mutual benefits.
“Both our countries have experienced the threat and terror of a few who work for their selfish motives. In the 80s, the LTTE found save haven in India and claimed the life of Rajiv Gandhi, killed 1500 soldiers. It was a troubled time in our bilateral relationship. The mistakes we have made, we learn from them. And move towards a future where mistakes are not repeated,” he said.
Rajapaksa was speaking at the third edition of The Huddle, The Hindu’s two-day annual thought conclave, at the ITC Gardenia hotel in Bengaluru.
“I believe that sharing ideas and learning from one another is key to understanding each other. India and Sri Lanka are one family, with shared cultural values. And with any family, the journey is not always smooth. Visits of the Buddha and later disciples are landmark moments in Sri Lanka’s history. Then, Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on national thought process. I see these as part of our relationship,” The Hindu quoted Rajapaksa as saying.
He said noted two major breakdowns in Sri Lanka’s relationship with India, one in the 1980s and the other in 2014.
He said that even when Sri Lanka was engaged in a war against the cruelest terrorist group in the world, India’s relationship was friendly. He said India’s understanding was a key factor in eliminating terrorism.
However he noted that in 2014, a change of Government in India resulted in a breakdown in the relationship between both countries.
“The government changed in India. Working relationship between the governments changed. Lack of communication between the parties seemed to have led to this situation. Communication is a vital factor that can make or break relationships. Misunderstandings of the ’80s and 2014 could have been avoided with communication. On India’s dealing with SL, here’s my suggestion: If the outgoing party has given recognition to a working relationship with SL, then the incoming party should also give the same recognition. Changes in government have serious consequences for relationships and for both countries,” he said.
Rajapaksa also said that a strong mechanism at country-country level should be in place to clear any misunderstanding that may pop up from time to time. (Colombo Gazette)