UNF Presidential Candidate Sajith Premadasa hosted an interaction with diplomats from 34 diplomatic missions based in Colombo yesterday. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera introduced Premadasa and summarized some of the government’s achievements in achieving its democracy, reconciliation and development objectives.
Premadasa outlined the broad contours of his foreign policy stating “we are firmly committed to maintaining a policy of friendship with all nations, both in the region and beyond. Considering our geographic location, our foreign policy will be focused on working with all nations in partnership to transform Sri Lanka into a hub in the Indian Ocean, with a knowledge-based, competitive social market economy. For this purpose, open trade, freedom of navigation and rules-based world order are essential.”
Noting that trade is essential for Sri Lanka’s subsistence, he reiterated his commitment to enhancing trade and connectivity with states in the region and beyond for mutual benefit. In order to empower the rural population, he laid out his vision to create export zones across the country. He said that the open free-market economy would be the engine of growth, combined with social democracy to ensure redistribution of income and wealth for shared prosperity.
He also noted that reconciliation and peace are vital for development. He welcomed the progressive path Sri Lanka had embarked on to create a democratic, reconciled and developed Sri Lanka.
"Harnessing our fullest potential as a modern, stable prosperous nation, requires acknowledging, celebrating and fully recognizing our multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual nature while securing individual rights and the dignity of all our citizens. The reform initiatives will continue,” he said.
In response to a question from one of the ambassadors, he said, “I shall be the voice of the voiceless irrespective of ethnicity, caste, creed and I will represent the whole of Sri Lanka."
“I shall use my powers of persuasion, and the rest, to ensure that there is peace, tranquility, brotherhood and prosperity among all segments and sectors of society. We shall not tolerate pogroms,” he added.
Premadasa also elaborated further on his foreign policy vision. “On the international stage Sri Lanka will pursue meaningful engagement with all partners, and remain committed to facilitating dialogue, building trust and strengthening bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. We will take requisite steps to realise sustainable goals, while doing our part to mitigate climate change and takes measures for adaptation. These are areas where we will need international support. Combatting terrorism and preventing violent extremism are also areas where we will work with the international community. I assure that we will remain firmly committed to working as a team in government. And we will ensure Sri Lanka meets it voluntary commitments.”