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Foreign Minister Marapana holds talks with EU's top higher ups in Brussels

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana who is on his first official visit to the European Union Headquarters in Brussels, held discussions with EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner Christos Stylianides on September 26, 2017.

The Foreign Minister was accompanied by Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva, Ambassador to the European Union Rodney Perera and senior officials.

The Foreign Minister conveyed the Government's appreciation to the European Union for the restoration of the GSP+ facility to Sri Lanka. It was noted that as the EU was Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner with an annual trade turnover of over US$ 5 billion, the GSP+ facility would provide for a significant increase in Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU market. During discussions, the European Commission announced that an additional sum of Euro 40 million would be allocated shortly for trade facilitation and support Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts.

EU High Representative and Commissioner Stylianides welcomed the significant improvement that had taken place in Sri Lanka since the election of the new Government and expressed their confidence in the ability of the Government to continue to honour the commitments arising from GSP+ requirements despite the apparent slow progress in some areas of concern.

Foreign Minister Marapana exchanged views on areas of mutual concern related to improving human rights standards through the reforms of legislation to bring in line with international standards and the implementation of the UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka. Foreign Minister Marapana reiterated that since the election of the present Government under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a bipartisan approach has been taken by the two major political parties to address issues of national importance and that new mechanisms have been introduced in Parliament to have wider consultations with all political parties on bringing about reforms. He stated that while this process would take more time, the Government was firmly committed to respecting human rights and progressing in the implementation of its international obligations. Foreign Minister Marapana explained to the EU High Representative and Commissioner Stylianides, that progress was being made on Constitutional reforms. Discussions also took place concerning the new security challenges, particularly global terrorism and the need for closer cooperation between Sri Lanka and the EU in this area. The Foreign Minister also discussed regional bilateral issues. The EU leaders emphasized that the Indian Ocean region was an area of particular priority to the EU.