- Stresses development cooperation is top most priority for Sri Lanka
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday told several new envoys that Sri Lanka’s foreign policy was based on neutrality and the country placed development cooperation as topmost priority.
“Sri Lanka is located in a place of strategic importance. Therefore, our country is attractive to many parties. In this context, Sri Lanka has chosen neutrality as its foreign policy. Our topmost priority is mutually-beneficial development cooperation. This country is open for foreign investment,” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said during a brief cordial conversation with four newly-appointed Ambassadors to Sri Lanka following presentation of their credentials at the President’s House on Wednesday.
Ambassadors of Republic of Korea, Germany, Holy See and Switzerland presented their credentials to the President.
They are the Republic of Korea Ambassador Jeong Woonjin, the Federal Republic of Germany Ambassador Holger Lothar Seubert, Apostolic Nuncio-designate of the Holy See Monsignor Brian Udaigwe and Switzerland Ambassador Dominik Furgler.
Explaining Sri Lanka’s policy towards the Indian Ocean during the discussion with the new envoys based in Colombo, the President said the Indian Ocean should be a free zone open to every country. Five decades ago, it was Sri Lanka that proposed the Indian Ocean should be declared as a zone of peace, the President recalled.
While paying attention to the development efforts of Sri Lanka in the recent past, the President said after defeating terrorism in 2009, the priority of the Government as well as the people of Sri Lanka was to achieve rapid development.
“The economy was weakened due to terrorism. We required foreign investments for speedy development. China came forward to invest in development projects in the country. It was only a commercial transaction between our two countries. But some described this as a manifestation of a pro-China policy. Sri Lanka is a friend of all countries,” the President explained.
President Rajapaksa pointed out that the construction of the Hambantota Port with funding from China was a project with enormous development potential, although some called it a ‘debt trap’. He said the previous Government leased the Hambantota Port to China but it was being used only for commercial purposes.
Expressing their views the Ambassadors commended both President and the people of Sri Lanka for successfully controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. “Sri Lanka is so safe,” Ambassador of Korea Jeong Woonjin remarked.
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Holger Lothar Seubert said he was pleased to be appointed as an envoy to Sri Lanka that has overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are not here to lecture you but to offer any possible assistance. We are certain that Sri Lanka is capable of choosing what needs to be done. We are ready to extend our cooperation to achieve development aspirations of Sri Lanka,” both German Ambassador Holger Lothar Seubert and Switzerland Ambassador Dominik Furgler echoed.
Communicating congratulations of Pope Francis to the President for the massive mandate received during elections Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See Monsignor Brian Udaigwe said he was a member of the entourage of the Holy Father during his visit to Sri Lanka in 2015. The Apostolic Nuncio said the geographical location was a great gift to Sri Lanka.