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Sri Lanka's former Foreign Secretary calls for ‘special treatment’ from India

Sri Lanka's former Foreign Secretary has called on New Delhi and Colombo to “nourish the roots” of their relationship in a piece where he recalls ties between the two governments and makes the case for “special and differential treatment for Sri Lanka”.

Writing in The Hindu, Prasad Kariyawasam also recalled the Buddhist history between the two countries, stating “the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka during the time of Emperor Ashoka was the result of cross-border discourse”.

“Later, Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka travelled to India, China, Cambodia and Java leaving behind inscriptions,” he continued. “Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, to this day, contain shrines for Hindu deities.”

The former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India however neglected to mention the longstanding history between the Eelam Tamil people on the island and India, with particularly deep-rooted links to Tamil Nadu.

Kariyawasam goes on to claim that “Sri Lanka’s strategic location makes it apparent that not only economic fortunes but the security of both countries are inextricably linked”.

“Both countries must seek to harmonise strategic and other interests in line with common values and socioeconomic compulsions,” he added.

“The socioeconomic development of Sri Lanka has remained linked to India. But there are many options available to address issues of imbalance and asymmetries. For instance, Sri Lanka can encourage Indian entrepreneurs to make Colombo another business hub for them, as logistical capacities and facilities for rest and recreation keep improving in Sri Lanka. Integrating the two economies but with special and differential treatment for Sri Lanka due to economic asymmetries can be fast-tracked for this purpose.

“With many countries receding into cocoons due to the pandemic, this is an opportunity for both countries to focus on the renewal and revitalisation of partnerships,” he concluded.

See the full text of his piece here.

Kariyawasam has previously claimed that the Tamil Nadu government was “uninformed on the status of Tamils”, defended Colombo’s stance on torture, rejected the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) report and slammed UN resolutions on accountability for mass atrocities, stating it was brought about by "LTTE lobbies from the west" at an “ annual ritual to humiliate Sri Lanka”.

 

His piece comes at a time when Sri Lanka faces an economic crisis and has repeatedly looked to India for support. India has engaged in discussions with Sri Lanka on debt relief, for a debt of $960 million, as well as a currency swap under bilateral and SAARC arrangements.

The Reserve Bank of India has extended a $400 million USD currency swap with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, which will remain available to the country till November 2022.

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