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JVP’s bid to save Nicosia Consulate General Office fails: Cash-strapped govt closes down three diplomatic missions

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The cash-strapped government has decided to close down the Sri Lanka High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Frankfurt, Germany; and the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Nicosia, Cyprus, from Friday, Dec 31.

The Foreign Ministry says the restructuring is meant to conserve the country’s much needed foreign reserves and minimising expenditure related to maintenance of Sri Lanka’s Missions/Posts overseas, while ensuring the effective conduct of bilateral relations, in the backdrop of the grave economic challenges posed by the global pandemic.

The JVP campaigned against the closure of our mission in Nicosia as it would affect the large number of Sri Lankan workers employed in Cyprus running to several thousands.

The following is the text of the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry:

“The decision, which has received the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, is part of a restructuring process of Sri Lanka’s network of Missions and Posts overseas carried out by the Foreign Ministry. The restructuring is undertaken with a view to conserving the country’s much needed foreign reserves and minimising expenditure related to maintenance of Sri Lanka’s Missions / Posts overseas, while ensuring the effective conduct of bilateral relations, in the backdrop of the grave economic challenges posed by the global pandemic.

“Upon closure of the three identified Missions / Posts, their functions, including maintenance of bilateral political, economic, cultural relations as well as consular functions as relevant, will come under the purview of accredited, and in the case of Abuja and Nicosia, non-resident High Commissions / Embassies of Sri Lanka. In this regard, action is in process to concurrently accredit Nigeria through Sri Lanka’s High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya; and the other countries in Africa concurrently accredited through the Sri Lankan Mission in Abuja, through Sri Lanka’s Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and High Commission in Nairobi, respectively. The functions of Sri Lanka’s Consulate General in Frankfurt, including trade, investment and tourism promotion, as well as consular matters of Sri Lankan nationals living and working in and around Frankfurt, will come under the purview of Sri Lanka’s Embassy in Berlin, Germany.

“The concurrent accreditation of Cyprus through the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome, Italy will continue, with the latter handling Sri Lanka’s bilateral relations with Cyprus as per current practice. The consular functions handled by the Consulate General in Nicosia will be brought under the purview of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome. However, considering the significant consular and welfare requirements of the approximately 6,000-strong Sri Lankan employee community living and working in Cyprus, which need to be addressed on a regular basis, action is being taken by the Foreign Ministry to appoint forthwith a suitably qualified Honorary Consul based in Nicosia. The Honorary Consul thus appointed will function under the direction of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome and the Foreign Ministry, in close coordination with the State Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotions & Market Diversification and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment. The Foreign Ministry will closely monitor the transition process in Cyprus in order to address issues, if any, and provide further solutions if deemed relevant and necessary in the foreseeable future.

“Notwithstanding cost-cutting measures, the Foreign Ministry continues to attach highest priority to maintenance of bilateral relations with all countries at optimum level, to meet the foreign policy objectives of the Government with special focus on economic diplomacy, which entails the promotion of exports, foreign direct investment, tourism and foreign employment generation. The Ministry pays high attention to its mandate of safeguarding the welfare and effective functioning of Sri Lankan employees overseas with due regard to their direct and significant contribution to the nation’s economy in terms of foreign remittances. A continuous evaluation of Mission / Post requirements vis-à-vis achievement of targets is being undertaken by the Foreign Ministry through a consultative process, both internal and external, involving senior representation of the Foreign Ministry and Sri Lanka’s Heads of Mission / Post overseas, as well as relevant line institutions of Government including the Ministries of Finance, Trade and Labour; the State Ministries of Regional Cooperation and Foreign Employment Promotion & Market Diversification; the Department of Commerce, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, among other agencies. The decision to temporarily close the three identified Missions / Posts is subject to continuous review, and action will be taken in due course to consider re-instatement of relevant resident Missions / Posts as deemed necessary.”



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Canadian declaration of ‘Tamil genocide’ may influence European parliaments, EU – Maj. Gen. (retd.) Gallage

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‘Counter lies, or face consequences’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage says controversial Canadian House of Commons declaration that Tamil genocide took place in Sri Lanka may influence many Western parliaments as well as the EU.

The Gajaba Regiment war veteran said that the recognition of 18th May, the day Sri Lanka defeated terrorism as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day was an affront to Sri Lanka.

The ex-combat officer said that the government owed an explanation without delay. Perhaps, Sri Lanka parliament should remind Canada of deaths of hundreds of native residential school students, who had been literally snatched from their families, the retired officer said, adding that it would be interesting to see whether any political parties, civil society groups or those who issue statements against Sri Lanka at the drop of a hat would question the Canada’s gruesome past. So far unmarked graves of more than 1000 native children have been found on the grounds of such schools run till the mid-1990s, the retired Major General said.

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, son of veteran Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree presented the motion on Wednesday (18). “Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day,” tweeted, Anandasangree, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park.

The motion states that “this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”.

The House of Commons unanimously accepted the motion.

Gallage alleged that Sri Lanka lacked political will to counter the campaign against the country. Acknowledging the current political-fiscal -social crisis caused by decades of economic mismanagement, he warned that the Canadian declaration would have disastrous consequences. Would the government care to examine how interested parties could exploit the Canadian condemnation of Sri Lanka? Gallage asked.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in the third week of May 2009.

Gallage questioned the responsibility on the part of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries for Sri Lanka’s failure to meet the challenge.

Anandasangaree brought forward the motion on the 13th anniversary of the annihilation of the LTTE fighting cadre at Mullivaikkal.

Retired Maj. Gen. said that those who had failed to throw a lifeline to the LTTE as the military brought the war to a rapid conclusion worked overtime for the realization of the Canadian project.

Responding to another query, Gallage said that declaration of May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka co-sponsoring an accountability resolution against itself at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in early Oct. 2015 under the yahapalana regime.

Gallage recalled how Australia denied him a visa during yahapalana administration though there hadn’t been specific war crimes allegations against him. Australia also found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009.

Established in Jan, 2008, the 59 Division, deployed on the eastern flank aka the Weli Oya front, fought under the then Brig. Nandana Udawatte’s command for one year to cross the Anandakulam and Nagacholai forest reserves, which served as natural defences for the LTTE Mullaitivu stronghold.

Maj. Gen. Gallage said that the Parliament should respond to the Canadian House of Commons declaration on Tamil genocide. The former senior officer who was always in the thick of combat reiterated that unless tangible action was taken immediately the Canadian motion would cause irreparable damage. The Tamil Diaspora would exploit their success with Canadian political parties to pressure other countries, Gallage said, the coming Geneva sessions would be quite a challenge.

He urged the current military top brass to make representations to the government as regards the damning unfair Canadian indictment of Sri Lanka. “We should ask Canada to share with us information on the basis its Parliament reached conclusion that genocide took place here. The very basis of their declaration is questionable,” Gallage said, adding that Sri Lanka should officially inform Canada of the Indian intervention that led to the deaths of thousands, both before and after the deployment of the Indian Army (1987-1990), killing of one-time Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE female suicide cadre and the sea borne attempt to assassinate the Maldivian President in 1989. “We should set the record straight. We should use wartime British High Commission cables now in the public domain to counter lies,” the Gajaba Regiment veteran said.

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Some MPs seek hotel accommodation to attend parliament

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday that a group of MPs had requested that they be provided hotel accommodations for them to attend Parliament sittings.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the request had been made due to the prevailing fuel crisis.

The Speaker said that some MPs who travelled from outstations were unable to return home due to the fuel shortage.

“Therefore, they have requested me to book a hotel for them to stay in Colombo to attend Parliament proceedings,” he said.

The Speaker’s clarification came as reports of MPs being provided fuel at a subsidised rate were raised in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that fuel had not been given at subsidised rates to any MP.

Many government MPs also lost life possessions as their houses were looted and torched by marauding mobs early last week.

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Elder brother says MR should have known when to quit politics

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SLPP MP and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that his younger brother former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa should have retired from politics after concluding his second term as President.

“Nearly 50 years of his outstanding political achievements and journey have been lost at present,” he said.

“If we become greedy for power and positions then we face such consequences as we see today,” he said.

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