EU tells Sri Lanka, achieving real change requires vision

The European Union (EU) has told Sri Lanka, achieving real change requires vision, standing up to spoilers and vested interests, and clearly communicating to all people the importance and benefits of reform.

The EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Tung-Laï Margue, in a message to mark Europe Day, said that the Sri Lankan Government is in the enviable position of being mandated to chart a definitive course for national reconciliation that recognises an inclusive and collective Sri Lankan identity.

“Two years ago, after the election of a Government with a commitment and vision to make fundamental reforms, Sri Lanka and the European Union reset our relationship: we renewed our cooperation, broadening our political dialogue to cover a wide range of topics, from fisheries exports to trade, from agriculture to climate change, as well as often difficult and sensitive topics such as national reconciliation, good governance, human rights and the rule of law,” he said.

The Ambassador said that Sri Lanka’s renewed commitment to respecting international rule of law and upholding its international human rights, labour rights and environmental obligations has resulted in the European Commission recommending the reinstatement of GSP Plus.

“Getting there took many hours of intense collaboration between Sri Lanka and the EU, as together we examined Sri Lanka’s compliance with the 27 international conventions on which the GSP+ assessment is based. I hope that our colleagues in the Member States and in the European Parliament will soon indicate that they are happy for readmission to take place,” Tung-Laï Margue said.

He said the EU’s wider cooperation is increasing. The EU, he notes, is working with the Government to build on its important cooperation in rural development across the country by contributing to work on national reconciliation, including providing funding to support the resettlement of people displaced by the war and supporting language training for public officials to help bring forward the day when all Sri Lankans are able to communicate with public officials in their own language.

“Throughout the civil war and in its aftermath, we have worked with community leaders, civil society, and human rights activists to press for the protection of fundamental freedoms and values. We continue to do so. These efforts are important and they will deepen. But they can only support reform and change in people’s lives where the political will to make those changes exists. Achieving real change requires vision, standing up to spoilers and vested interests, and clearly communicating to all people the importance and benefits of reform,” he said.

May 9 is the day that the EU celebrates Europe Day. Europe Day recalls the declaration by the then Foreign Minister of France, Robert Schuman, in 1950, setting out the vision of a community of nations built on shared interests and values. The Schuman Declaration set out the underpinning values and principles for the establishment of the modern-day EU: 28 Member States with a population of more than 500 million able to live and work across anywhere across the world’s largest economy with the same guarantees of fundamental freedoms and rights. (Colombo Gazette)

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