Sri Lanka Strengthens engagement with UNESCO and France
By The Embassy of Sri Lanka, France
June 9, 2015
During the visit of Minister Karu Jayasuriya to Paris in his capacity as Minister of Buddha Sasana, Public Administration, Local Government and Democratic Governance to attend the Vesak Symposium, he met with Madam Irina Bokova, Director-General/UNESCO for a brief courtesy call on 27th May, 2015. Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, who is also the Chairman of the Sri Lanka National Commission to UNESCO participated in this meeting.

On 28th May, 2015 Minister Karu Jayasuriya attended a breakfast meeting with Madam Marie-Christine Blandin, President and members of the Sri Lanka – France Friendship Group in the Senate of the French Parliament.

During these separate meetings Minister Jayasuriya briefed Director General of UNESCO and the Senators of the Sri Lanka – France Friendship Group of the 100 day programme initiated by the new Government placing particular emphasis on the efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, combat corruption, and measures introduced to make appropriate amendments to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, on the limitation of Executive Powers.

Speaking on the issue of reconciliation, Minister explained steps taken by the Government to devolve more powers to Provincial Councils and the long term goals to establish a three language system in the country with English as the link language.

The Director-General/UNESCO was also briefed on Sri Lanka’s candidature to the UNESCO Executive Board for the period 2015 – 2019 and the importance of Sri Lanka receiving a mandate to serve on the Board, particularly due to the country’s own national priorities of achieving durable peace and equitable development. Director-General/UNESCO stated that if elected UNESCO would look forward to working with Sri Lanka in further pursuing the fruitful partnership.

Director-General/UNESCO thanked both Ministers for the measures taken to apprise her on the developments of Sri Lanka and the distinct contributions made by the country as a member State to espouse the goals upheld by UNESCO in the organization’s 70 year journey in service of humanity.

At the conclusion of the meeting Minister Karu Jayasuriya extended a warm welcome for Madam Bokova to visit Sri Lanka.

During the discussion, Minister Jayasuriya had with the Senators of the Sri Lanka – France Friendship Group in the Senate of the French Parliament, he also spoke of the difficulties faced by Sri Lanka fishing industry following the EU-IUU ban imposed in January 2015 and intimated that Sri Lanka is working on addressing the procedural requirements imposed for the lifting of the ban. Senators assured their support for early lifting of the ban. Minister also spoke of the necessity for further strengthening economic and trade ties with France through the engagement of the private sector and the business support organizations. Both parties agreed to take more efforts in the strengthening and consolidation of multifaceted relations between the two countries including in the areas of culture as well as people to people exchanges. The Senators requested Sri Lanka to play an important role in the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled to be held in Paris from 30th November to 11th December 2015 and expressed their wish to meet the members of the Sri Lanka delegation at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change, which will be held in conjunction with the Conference.

The Sri Lanka – France Friendship Group meeting concluded with a brief guided tour of the Senate Chamber and the Library for the Sri Lanka Delegation. Mrs. Shobini Gunasekera, Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Sri Lanka was also associated with these meetings.

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