Agreements with India, China et al
April 20, 2017, 10:04 pm
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Acknowledging that various agreements under discussion with China and India had attracted severe criticism, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday asserted that final decisions were yet to be made and they were still in the process of working them out.
President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces emphasized that he wouldn’t under any circumstances enter into agreements inimical to Sri Lanka.
President Maithripala Sirisena was addressing proprietors, editors and journalists representing public and private print and electronic media at Janadhipathi Mandiraya.On the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena, Deputy Media Minister Karu Paranavithana, Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faizer Mustapha joined the briefing.
President Maithripala Sirisena accused opposition political elements and a section of the media of playing politics with national issues. The President was referring to intense media coverage of the proposed agreements on the Hambantota harbour with China and Trincomalee oil tank farm et al.
Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has publicly condemned the agreement on Hambantota port and was on record as having said that significant changes were made following his intervention.
Alleging that there had never been an agreement as bad as the one on Colombo Port City finalized by the previous Rajapaksa administration, President Maithripala Sirisena said that his government could amicably amend it. President Maithripala Sirisena said that the previous agreement wouldn’t have allowed even a helicopter carrying President of Sri Lanka to fly over the Colombo Port City.
President Maithripala Sirisena alleged that the previous agreement with the Chinese was meant to give the investor outright control whereas new administration was able to amend it. The President said that there been problems and discussions as well as ongoing talks meant to resolve issues.
Commenting on the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) granting Sri Lanka two years to implement the Oct 1, 2015 resolution co-sponsored by his government, President Maithripala Sirisena expressed confidence that accountability issues could be handled in a way not inimical to Sri Lanka.
President Maithripala Sirisena said he was in a position to settle accountability issues and address international concerns.
The President refrained from commenting on the resolution co-sponsored by his government proposing foreign judges, including those from the Commonwealth, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators.
He explained steps taken so far to resettle the war displaced as well as address the contentious issue of disappearances during the conflict. The president said that as the vast majority of the war displaced had been resettled since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the project could be finalised soon. The president expressed confidence that significant progress could be made within the next three months.
The President also promised to set up a mechanism for the benefit of those who had been still looking for the missing loved ones.