The Sunday Leader

Towards A Vibrant Diplomacy

It is an axiomatic principle that the foreign policy of a country is a projection of its domestic policies. It also happens that at times foreign policies boomerang on domestic policies as was evident during the last regime. Thus it is evident in the study of foreign affairs that the dynamics of domestic policy and foreign policy are in a state of flux and needs constant attention of students of foreign affairs.

Sri Lanka underwent a political upheaval on January 8th this year and it is evident that both domestic policy and foreign policy had to undergo drastic changes for the benefit of the people and the country.

In this instance a change in foreign policy was required immediately to remove the sword left hanging over the head of the nation. Not only was the economy caught in a gridlock but international sanctions were threatened.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, in deft and silent political moves, was able make up with powerful, estranged nations and dilute the corrosive resolutions moved at the UNHCR and set the domestic process moving to investigate alleged war crimes. Non-compliance with those resolutions threatened international sanctions.

For development of good relations with powerful nations it is essential that not only should diplomatic relations be established on a firm footing but also deep understanding and good relations between political leaders and key diplomats that handle relations be established.

Proof that this government has been able to carry out both tasks is evident from the fact that not only have they reached agreement with the United States and other nations who were pursuing Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes and violation of human rights with resolutions moved at Geneva but also that key diplomats of American President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations visited Sri Lanka and had cordial discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

Such high ranking American officials visiting Sri Lanka are rare and their significance should be realised. It is not a matter of kowtowing   to a world superpower but that the world’s superpower is showing appreciation of the policies of this government.

Of course there will always be those Sri Lankans who think that the entire universe revolves around Sri Lanka and the rest of the world should kowtow to us.

A former minor political appointee of the Rajapaksa regime to a foreign embassy recently faulted Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera for hosting Samantha Power, the visiting US Ambassador to dinner! He compared an Indian Joint Secretary hosting Ms. Power to dinner whereas our Foreign Minister did so.

The Indians may have had particular reasons of their own to do so. Should Sri Lanka blindly follow even the protocol of Indians at hosting dinners to foreign dignitaries? Besides India has a population of 2.1 billion and Sri Lanka only 20 million. Little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Sri Lanka at least should be thankful that the current ambassadors do not attempt to sell the embassy premises or engage in gun running or that powerful ministry bureaucrats do not punch High Commissioners to the floor.

We do hope that embassies are run today by ambassadors and not by politically appointed minions carrying tales to the big boss across the seas.

The new government has rescued Sri Lankan diplomacy from the gutter as regards to administration of its missions abroad as well relations with foreign leaders. The political sagacity of the leading lights of the Rajapaksa run Foreign Ministry was that the most controversial and unstable leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi and Ahmadinejad were cultivated quite close to the time when they were to  be thrown out.

Whatever happened to those African friends we cultivated at great cost with Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris going through Africa like the intrepid explorers of yore such as David Livingstone. The poor Professor did not have much of a choice with a GCE-O/Level expert bearing down on him.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera should set up a permanent school of diplomacy with international collaboration for training of new diplomats and constant updating of those in service.

If that happens we may not have diplomats crying aloud for policies on non-alignment long after the Cold War ended.


2 Comments for “Towards A Vibrant Diplomacy”

  1. Malin

    Mangala Samaraweera should be first sent for training not to betray the sovereignty and the integrity of the country by becoming a YES MAN to the western world.

  2. Gul Lible

    “Little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

    You can say that again!. Even worse when combined with corrupt intentions.

    One remark after reading everything you have written KCUF You.

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