The Sri Lankan government has raised strong opposition to moves to include Sri Lanka as an agenda item at the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) which is scheduled to be held in London in April.
A statement by the External Affairs Ministry today said that External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris had raised these concerns during a meeting with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma on the upcoming meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Sri Lanka in November this year.
Minister Peiris briefed the Secretary-General in detail about the arrangements currently being made by the government of Sri Lanka for the hosting of the main conference in Colombo as well as the Commonwealth Business Forum, the People’s Forum and the Youth Forum which will be held in Hambantota.
In the course of the discussions Prof Peiris made a strong case against the inclusion of Sri Lanka as an agenda item at the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) which is scheduled to be held in London in April.
The Minister pointed out that such a course of action is contrary to the decisions taken by the Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Perth, Western Australia in October 2011 regarding the mandate of CMAG and the scope of its functions.
Prof Peiris, who described to the Secretary-General the developments which had taken place in Sri Lanka during the last few months, emphasized the crucial need to preserve the essential character of the Commonwealth as a voluntary association of sovereign States, characterised by a striking diversity of cultures and outlook among the 54 states comprising the organisation.
He said that any attempt to politicise the organisation or to permit its structures and mechanisms to be used as instruments by some countries to interfere in the domestic issues of other countries, would inevitably distort the cultural ethos of the Commonwealth and pose significant challenges with regard to its future.
Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma told the visiting Minister that he was looking forward to his visit to Sri Lanka and that he was pleased with the arrangements which are well under way for the meeting of the Heads of Government.
He expressed satisfaction about Sri Lanka’s dialogue with Dr Mohan Kaul regarding the Business Council which involves a focus on Sri Lanka not only as a destination for investment but also as a trading and knowledge hub.
Prof. Peiris briefed Mr Sharma about the discussions which he held in New Delhi last month regarding the summit, and in particular about Sri Lanka’s support for the Secretary-General’s proposal with regard to the establishment of a Commonwealth Bank for Trade and Investment.
Secretary-General Sharma was also briefed about the recent visits to Sri Lanka by Senator Robert Carr, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Ms Julie Bishop, Australia’s Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister.
Prof Peiris said that Australia was sharing with Sri Lanka the experience it had gained from successfully organising the last meeting of the Heads of Government less than two years ago and that this collaboration was greatly appreciated by Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)