'Sirisena's election an opportunity for a fresh foreign policy'

Sri Lanka can now return to its traditional non-aligned foreign policy maintaining friendly relations with its Asian neighbours, especially with India.

Updated - September 23, 2017 12:50 pm IST

Published - January 09, 2015 02:04 pm IST - Colombo

Chinese presence in Sri LankaâJayantha Dhanapala

Chinese presence in Sri LankaâJayantha Dhanapala

The election of President Maithripala Sirisena in a peaceful democratic process is a welcome opportunity to forge afresh a coherent,consistent and balanced foreign policy based on the permanent national interests of Sri Lanka and executed with professional competence.

Sri Lanka can now return to its traditional non-aligned foreign policy maintaining friendly relations with its Asian neighbours, especially with India with whom we have been closely linked through geo-politics, history and culture. Asia is the new centre of gravity in global political and economic relations and Sri Lanka can develop her economic potential with even-handed and mutually beneficial ties with India, China, Pakistan, Japan and the ASEAN countries using its strategic location. At the same time important economic partners in trade, investment and tourism remain in the West with whom we have had longstanding ties thorough the Commonwealth, the United Nations and other multilateral organisations working together for international peace and security.

The values of good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights will be upheld in domestic and foreign policy ensuring that the ethnic and religious diversity of the country is respected and protected . It follows therefore that Sri Lanka will engage in a positive dialogue with the international community on human rights fulfilling its commitments to the international human rights instruments it has signed and ensuring that credible domestic processes are launched for their implementation.

Sri Lanka must also rebuild traditional foreign policy institutions especially a professional diplomatic service with recruitment through a competitive examination and training at all levels minimising political appointees .

(Jayantha Dhanapala is a former diplomat in Sri Lanka, who has held key posts in Beijing, Washington and Geneva)

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