Kariyawasam says our leadership understood compulsions before Indian PM

Kariyawasam says our leadership understood compulsions before Indian PM

Kariyawasam says our leadership understood compulsions before Indian PM

Written by Kumudu Jayawardana

21 Nov, 2013 | 12:13 pm

Sri Lankan High Commissioner for India Prasad Kariyawasam was interviewed by The Economic Times.

Here are excerpts of the interview:

Are you happy with level of India’s participation at CHOGM?

Commonwealth Summit was held in Asia after 24 years, therefore, highest-level participation from India was expected. Many in Sri Lanka were disappointed that the prime minister could not make it to the CHOGM. But, our political leadership understood the political compulsions before the PM. To my mind, our region would have benefited from Indian PM’s presence in Colombo, as top leaders from leading Commonwealth nations were present.

Will Colombo’s ties with China and Pakistan deepen in the backdrop of PM’s decision to skip CHOGM?

Our relationship with India and our relations with China and Pakistan cannot be viewed as ‘zero-sum game.’ Indo-Lankan ties go back to the days of Emperor Ashoka. With regard to our friends -China and Pakistan- they are assisting us economically, particularly China.

But we have no intentions to harm interests of any our friends including India, when we deal with other friends. We are very keen for regional stability in the Indian Ocean region but pained to note resolution in the Tamil Nadu Assembly . Now that democracy has returned to the Northern Provinces in Sri Lanka following the elections, we want support from all our friends in India.

What is Lanka doing to empower Tamils?

The 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution was a result of the Indo-Lankan Accord in 1987. There is an effort by the Lankan government to improve on it. The government has assigned the task to the Parliament. For the first time in three decades we have a Chief Minister for the Northern Province who represent the Tamil National Alliance.

One must understand that we don’t have same model of Indian federalism in Sri Lanka. We have a power-sharing model at the periphery and the Centre. This is the best model for Sri Lanka and the 13th Amendment is the basis for that.

What is Colombo’s view on demands of international enquiry for the war crimes in Sri Lanka.

We do not feel that there is a need for international enquiry into the situation in Sri Lanka. We had established a reconciliation commission and its recommendations are being implemented step by step. In the post-conflict situation we have to find sustainable method. We think our justice system is fully capable of addressing the issues. We feel that the demand for retributive justice in the garb of accountability can only delay the process of reconciliation.

What are the next initiatives in the India-Lanka relations?

We want India to be deeply involved in rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka. While India’s efforts have largely focussed on reconstruction efforts in Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka, we wish that India would expand its presence in the other parts of the country.

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