Financial Times

Lankan Foreign Minister says investigation unnecessary for GSP+ approval

The Sri Lankan government finds the procedure of instituting an investigation unnecessary and inappropriate, given the extensive cooperation Sri Lanka has extended to the UN/ILO convention supervisory bodies relevant to the GSP+ process and also through its continuous interaction with the European institutions, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has told met EU External Relations Commissioner,Benita Ferrero Waldner during a meeting in New York on Tuesday.

The Sri Lankan mission in the UN, issuing a media statement on the meeting quoted the Minister as saying the government will await the official announcement and the intimation of the EU on the proposed investigation to formally respond in this regard. Mr Bogollagama sought to discuss this issue having learnt that the European Commission had proposed to conduct an investigation on Sri Lanka as per its regulations governing the GSP scheme, the statement said.

The Foreign Minister explained that the Sri Lanka government's response to any proposed EU measures in connection with the extension of the GSP+ facility will be structured bearing in mind the country's national priorities and interests which in this context are protection of the territorial integrity and fight against separatism, eradication of terrorism, restoring democracy and empowering the people. “He therefore regretted that this action by the EC was being taken at a time that Sri Lanka is in the process of post conflict development for its people and would not have expected such a measure from a friendly development partner with whom there has been continuous and open engagement. He further added that Sri Lanka has continuously maintained the most cordial relations with all the EU member states,” the statement noted.

It said Commissioner Waldner acknowleded that the government of Sri Lanka as been compelled to take military measures to counter terrorism of the LTTE and outlined that their concern was primarily the safety of civilians. She explained that the investigation will mainly be on human rights, and such a procedure has been a process that has worked in other countries. She wished that the EU's action be regarded positively in terms of a review of the conditions Sri Lanka had undertaken, as there is a mandatory compliance the EU requires to extend the GSP+ facility.

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