Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris states that the visit by President Rajapaksa to Russia was a success

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris states that the visit by President Rajapaksa to Russia was a success

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris stated that all politically motivated campaigns against Sri Lanka would fail as they were based on wrong information and not on objective assessments.

Addressing the media at the Ministry on 21st June 2011, Minister Peiris described the recent visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to St. Petersburg, Russia as “unreservedly successful” which brought dividends to Sri Lanka. Addressing the media at the External Affairs Ministry Prof. Peiris briefed on the highlights of the visit which included the bilateral meetings with the Presidents of Russia, China and Kazakhstan and the Prime Minister of Spain.

The Minister remarked that the meeting with the Prime Minister of Spain Jose Luis Zapatero was crucial where the Spanish PM expressed his understanding of the challenges faced by Sri Lanka and was appreciative of the developments that have taken place in such a short period since the end of the conflict which was laudable. Having itself undergone turbulent times as a result of terrorism, Spain understood what it was like to be at the receiving end of terrorism.

Minister Peiris said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had a fruitful meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian President had observed that terrorism was a problem common to all, and Russia having been at the receiving end of terrorism, understood the challenges Sri Lanka faced. Russia will therefore stand by Sri Lanka and will continue its support in the post conflict phase as well.

The Minister noted that President Hu Jintao of China warmly welcomed President Rajapaksa and told explicitly that China is opposed to any interference into Sri Lanka’s internal affairs by external forces, and that any form of external pressure was counter-productive.

The Minister further said that the economic side of the visit was no less important. Following the meeting President Rajapaksa had with the CEO of Gazprom, a team arrive in Sri Lanka to discuss issues pertaining to technical assistance in oil exploration, purchase of liquid gas and development of an oil refinery in Sri Lanka. The Minister also mentioned that the issue tariffs applicable to packeted tea was also raised with the Russian side, particularly given that 90% of Sri Lanka’s exports to Russia consisted of tea. The commencement of direct flights by Sri Lankan and Aeroflot airlines between the two capitals will also enhance tourist arrivals from Russia while strengthening people to people exchanges.

President Rajapaksa also met the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, during which investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka had been explained.

Minister Peiris added that all in all, the visit had sent a strong message to the world that Sri Lanka was not isolated, and that Sri Lanka is strengthened by this show of friendship.

Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga and the Governor of Central Bank, Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal also addressed the media.

Addressing the media, Secretary to the President Mr. Weeratunga emphasized the significance of President Rajapaksa's visit to St. Petersburg and the appreciation he received from world leaders from China, Russia, Spain etc. in recognition of his statesmanship. He also said that the President has been assured of the fullest support by leaders attending the Summit for Sri Lanka's post conflict development agenda. The Central Bank Governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal in his remarks commented on the economic benefits and the potential opportunities Sri Lanka could derive by taking part in high level forums and from the contacts established with countries which participate at such forums.

Responding to questions posed to him on the recent telecast of a video on Channel 4, Minister Peiris stated that the telecast of these clips on Channel 4 were done to coincide with events and visits which were of importance to Sri Lanka. He pointed out that while the first Channel 4 video clip was telecast on the eve of a meeting in Brussels when the European Union was to meet over extending the GSP+ facility to Sri Lanka, the second video clip was shown the day prior to his meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. He said the third clip was telecast when President Rajapaksa was about to leave for London to deliver a lecture at the Oxford Union.

He also stated that the infamous Channel 4 fiasco was a part of a vicious campaign aimed at destabilising the development and reconciliation efforts taking place in the country. The Minister further stated that these politically motivated campaigns were to embarrass the country at a crucial time. Minister Peiris further added that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has publicly said that they will launch a full inquiry into this video clip.

Responding to a question on the summons purportedly served on President Rajapaksa, Minister Peiris stated that the “...President cannot be served summons in courts under International Law”. He further stated that President Rajapaksa enjoys the full benefits of sovereign immunity as the Head of State, twice elected by the people of Sri Lanka and he cannot be summoned by any court under International Law. He stated that “…this legislation was amply enforced in Sri Lanka in 2000 and the President has constitutional immunity in Sri Lanka too” and added that President Rajapaksa will travel to any country of his choice.

Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. K. Amunugama and Director General, President’s Media, Mr. Bandula Jayasekera were also present at the media briefing which was jointly organised by the Presidential Secretariat and Ministry of External Affairs.

Ministry of External Affairs

22 June 2011

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