Friends having different opinions not unusual: Kohona
Mar 6, 2011

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Palitha Kohona expressed confidence that Sri Lanka would be able to secure the support of a majority of countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

In an e-mail interview with the Daily Mirror Ambassador Kohona pooh-poohed suggestions that Sri Lanka’s relations with certain Western countries had deteriorated, and argued that it was not unusual for friends to have differences of opinion.

“The goal of diplomacy is not simply winning but working with friends and critics to defend and advance the national interest. Diplomacy is not like a one-day game of cricket. It takes patience and hard work and it involves understanding the views of a wide cross section of interlocutors. We will continue to seek to change negative perceptions of our country. We are confident that we will be able to persuade the majority of countries to agree with us,” he said.

“Sri Lanka will continue to work with countries with which there are differences of opinion. It is not unusual even for friends to have differences of views. We must not forget that the leftover LTTE has deployed millions of dollars to lobby diplomats in Colombo and overseas capitals, the media and law makers. They have employed skilled media managers and even medical professionals and psychologists. It is important to remember that Sri Lanka has cultivated a range of friends, which now spans the spectrum of political and economic interests around the world,” Ambassador Kohona said. The former Foreign Secretary further said the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was not established to satisfy the international community,

The LLRC was not established to satisfy the international community. It was established to assist us in our own reconciliation effort and emphasised that Sri Lanka would achieve reconciliation through a process that was unique to itself.

“The LLRC was not established to satisfy the international community. It was established to assist us in our own reconciliation effort. To assume that an accountability process that accords with western social and religious perceptions is the only way to achieve reconciliation is a blind mistake. Our reconciliation effort will reflect our own ethical, cultural and religious perspectives,” he asserted.

Ambassador Kohona explained that the LLRC’S mandate was to make recommendations to the government on issues pertinent to the reconciliation process with a view to avoiding a recurrence of a similar situation.

“The Government has said it would give effect to the recommendations of the LLRC and it will seek a solution to the concerns of our minorities through a national process. I fail to see how the international community can play an intrusive role in this. External involvement at this stage will only contribute to confuse and complicate issues,” he added.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka