Sri Lanka is yet to improve the state policies on economic diplomacy, and the country needs to empower its skillful people for a long-term development plan design based on the reality of today’s world
by Nilantha Ilangamuwa
( September 23, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) What we need today is a healthy constructive and consultative approach to attract the richest investors for the sustainability of the island nation, Sri Lanka, former secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the best known diplomat the country has produced, Dr. Palitha Kohona told the Sri Lanka Guardian in an interview at his Colombo residence.
While detailing the Foreign Policy of the country maintained since the so-called independence from the British, Kohona asserts that the government of Sri Lanka then maintained a pro-western policy as to move ahead with those who have colonized the country for over a hundred years.
However, with the new dawn of political arena marked in 1956, there was a dramatic shift in our foreign policy.
According to Dr. Palitha Kohona, the country has able consolidated its political wisdom to maintain the foreign policy based on the non-aligned principles which have later achieved much better and healthiest relationships in bi-lateral and multi-lateral level between nations.
“I would like to frankly state that the late Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike well understood the pragmatism of the non-aligned principles and she was exceptional in putting the state foreign policy in the framework,” Dr. Kohona observed.
“She was the architect of a pro-active non-aligned foreign policy,” he said.
However, “since the new government came into power in 1977, the policies were mixed each other’s’ political party based viewpoints and began to dilute the strength of our earlier state policies,” he asserts.
Meanwhile, talking about the famous slogan, the National question of Sri Lanka (Tamils’ Question), Dr. Kohona said; “Unfortunately, the minority-majority mentality evoked negative motivations such as uncertainty, insecurity, disunity and dishonestly”.
“I think we have distorted the real social problem by replacing it with a minority problem where we all races group as one nation would have look after each other and listen to each other’s issues,” Kohona said.
Answering the question about the allegation made by certain interested parties saying that the Sri Lankan Security Forces were engaged in War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity; Kohona clarified that most of those allegations were completely baseless right from the beginning even when it comes to terminology.
“War Crimes is way beyond and too strong a terminology to be used when it comes to the real situation in Sri Lanka during the last phase of the conflict. But, if there is ‘infraction of the rule of laws” as reported, then it can be and should be properly investigated”. He clarified this by referring and appreciating the attempt made by the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) report as a first detailed account of the controversy.
“Sri Lanka is the only member state of the United Nations that prosecuted those who were illegally involved in crimes when our team who represented the UN peacekeeping force were engaged in sexual misconducted in Haiti”, Dr. Kohana said while narrating the events he has encountered as the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations.
“First of all, we, as the country must understand and must appreciate the authenticity, capability, and proficiency of the subject of our people, and then we should allow them to act independently accordance within the law of the country,” he argued while recalling the uncomfortable experience he earned during his tenure as an Ambassador as well as the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Palitha Kohona, who is now focusing on how to strengthen the foreign investments for the betterment of the country is finding inadvertency in core areas of enhancing the foreign investments.
“I agreed with the term used by former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ravi Karunanayake, where he says that the county should work towards ‘Economic Diplomacy”. I believe this term has a deep meaning and is a huge task to be implemented,” Dr. Kohona said.
According to Dr. Kohohna, “Sri Lanka is yet to improve the state policies on economic diplomacy, and the country needs to empower its skillful people for a long-term development plan design based on the reality of today’s world.”
Mere wordings on investments will not achieve the real needs of the country and it will not attract the leading investors.
“It can’t win the leading investors”, he nodded.
“What we, Sri Lanka, need today is the detailed plan based on state policies with steps to achieve our ultimate goal, where every citizen of this country can enjoy the livelihood without hesitation. This is what I would like to call as “National Question”, which needs to be addressed effectively with utmost seriousness,” he concluded.