In their first discussions on Sri Lanka in more than six years, the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union (EU) welcomed the significant advances made by Sri Lanka to restore democratic governance, initiate a process of national reconciliation and re-engage with the international community and the UN system.
The Council concluded that there are new opportunities for the EU to engage with the Sri Lankan government in making further progress in areas, including reconciliation, strengthening good governance and tackling corruption, promoting respect for human rights and the rule of law, and fostering inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.
The Council also welcomed the resolution adopted at the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, but noted that continued political leadership would be needed from all sides to address the underlying causes of the conflict and to deal with the past in a way that established a lasting foundation for a peaceful future.
The EU lauded the steps that have been taken to strengthen civilian administration in the North and East and called on the government to move swiftly to build the confidence of communities, including releasing the identity of detainees and accelerating their prosecution or release, repealing the PTA, calibrating military presence according to identified security needs and returning land sequestered by the military to its rightful owners.
Foreign Ministers commended the steps taken by Sri Lanka to comply with EU rules on fishing. They encouraged shortcomings to be addressed, so that the ban on fish exports could be lifted as soon as possible. The Council also positively noted recent progress in implementing the core international human rights, labour and environmental conventions and encouraged Sri Lanka to undertake the remaining necessary preparatory work to enable an application at the appropriate time for GSP+.