Foreign Minister concluded a successful visit to Brussels 

Foreign Minister concluded a successful visit to Brussels 

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Ali Sabry concluded a successful visit to Brussels, Belgium which took place from 30 January to 02 February 2024. During the visit, the Foreign Minister attended the 3rd EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum and a number of other engagements with the European Parliament, the European commission, the Government of Belgium as well as Private enterprises connected to Sri Lanka.

The Forum was held at the European Union Headquarters in Brussels with the participation of over 80 high level delegations, recognizing and focusing on a number of growing geopolitical and security concerns, economic resilience and investments and green transition and climate change. The Forum was chaired by  the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Vice President (HR/VP) of the European Commission Josep Borrel.

The First and Second EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forums were held in Paris (February 2022) and Stockholm (May 2023) respectively where Sri Lanka participated at the Foreign Ministerial level. This year’s Forum consisted of Opening and Closing Plenary Sessions and three Parallel Roundtable Discussions with three themes namely ‘Shared prosperity, economic resilience and investment’; ‘Green transition -partnering for sustainable future’; ‘Geopolitical and security challenges’. Minister Sabry co-moderated the First Roundtable discussion on ‘Geopolitical and Security Challenges in the Indo-Pacific Region’ with EU HR/VP Josep Borrel. 25 member States representing Asia & Pacific, Africa, Europe and Middle-East regions, attended the 01st Round Table Discussion.

Minister Sabry also played a role as the Rapporteur of the Roundtable and presented the outcome of the roundtable discussion at the Closing Plenary Session of the Forum.

During the visit, Minister Sabry made a keynote speech titled ‘Sri Lanka-EU Relations: Potential for Stronger Ties and New Economic Opportunities – A Vision for Sri Lanka’ at the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS), a prestigious think tank based in Brussels, followed by a question and answer session. The event was attended by an audience of over 120 participants from various institutions including from European External Action Service (EEAS) of the EU, Directorate General of the International Partnership (DG INTPA) and Directorate General of Trade (DG TRADE) of the European Commission, Diplomatic Community, Think Tanks, Academia, media and individuals interested in Sri Lanka-EU relations. Minister Sabry elaborated Sri Lanka – EU relations and greater potential for robust cooperation as well as expanded opportunities based on shared values of democracy, independent judiciary, rule of law and human rights. The Minister also briefed the ongoing economic reform process with the IMF-EFF and debt restructuring with bilateral creditors as well as private creditors.

As part of the engagement of Foreign Minister Sabry with the European Parliament, a luncheon meeting was hosted in honour of Minister, by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nicola Procaccini, Chair of the South Asia Delegation (DSAS) of European Parliament, along with other MEPs including Vice President of the European Parliament  Heidi Hautala, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Aušra Seibutytė-Maldeikienė, Karsten Lucke. Minister Sabry and the members of DSAS had an open and constructive dialogue on the ongoing reform process with the support of IMF, debt restructuring, continued GSP + concessions for Sri Lanka, ongoing negotiations of the new GSP regulation, progressive steps taken in the spheres of human rights and national reconciliation including the government’s efforts to replace the PTA with Anti-terrorism Act in line with international human rights standards, gazetted draft bill on Commission for Truth, Unity and Reconciliation as well as necessity to ensuring online safety etc. The members of the DSAS of the European parliament last visited Sri Lanka in October 2023 as part of their engagement with Sri Lanka and its parliament.

Foreign Minister interacted with Belgium entrepreneurs connected to Sri Lanka, at ‘Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry’ (BECI), with a view to encouraging more trade, investments and tourism. Minister Sabry shared insights on Sri Lanka's economic rebound, reforms being undertaken and the efforts of economic and social transformation for a sustainable growth of the country at this interactive session. The event was co-organised by Sri Lanka Embassy in Brussels, BECI and Sri Lanka Honorary Consul in Antwerp Moniq De Deker. Sri Lanka Honorary Consul in Luxembourg Dirk Van Der Ploeg also participated at the event.

The Foreign Minister also visited Belgium Parliament and had a productive discussion with Senator, Chair of the Sri Lanka Friendship Group in the Belgium Federal Parliament Allessia Claes and Member of the Belgian House of Representatives, Chair of the Belgian delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and also the Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Federal Parliament Samuel Cogolati. Senators exchanged their views on Sri Lanka and assured to continue their good relations with Sri Lanka. Foreign Minister briefed about the present situation in the country, challenges, opportunities and the reforms that are being under taken for the recovery, sustainable development and prosperity of the country. Minister Sabry invited the Sri Lanka Friendship Group in the Belgium parliament to visit Sri Lanka and enhance parliamentary cooperation.

During the Foreign Minister’s meeting with the Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, it was explored further cooperation for the green transition of Sri Lanka through investments in achieving commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. The Minister briefed on Sri Lanka’s vision for green transition through achieving 70% renewable energy generation by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. In this context, Minister Sabry emphasized the EU’s strong partnership with Sri Lanka via potential investments on renewable energy generation, i.e., green hydrogen, wind and solar power as there is an enormous potential in the tropical island nation referring to the feasibility study done by the World Bank. Minister Sabry further requested investment through the EU Global Gateway programme which has a 300 Bn Euro worth of EU investment around the world until 2027 together with the European Investment Bank (EIB). Minister at his pull-aside meeting, with Commissioner Junta Urpelini at the DG INTPA under whose purview the Global Gateway programme operates, requested to enhance further development cooperation to Sri Lanka.

On the side-lines of the 3rd EU Indo Pacific Ministerial Forum, the Minister had his pull aside meetings with his counterparts of Luxemburg, Indonesia and Lao PDR.

Foreign Minister’s delegation included Sri Lanka's Ambassador-Designate to Belgium and the EU Chandana Weerasena, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Madusanka Jayasinghe, Second Secretary Dulmini Dahanayake, Minister Commercial Thavishya Mullagamgoda from the Sri Lanka Embassy to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU in Brussels.

Embassy of Sri Lanka


06 February 2024



Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Please follow and like us: