For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Malwathu Mahanayake thero welcomed the ambassador and said that he hoped the visit will encourage the European Union to reinstate the GSP+ tax relief on Srilankan exports to European Union.
Addressing the ambassador, Malwathu Mahanayake thero said. “Now the conditions have improved, and reconciliation is happening, it is the time to reconsider the position. I hope the government and the opposition are working together to bring in a political solution to the ethnic issue”.
The EU envoy also had an audience with Asgiri Mahanayake Thero.
The Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkhitha, Mahanayake thero of the Asgiriya chapter
“We are all bound by a global brotherhood”, said the Nayake thero “People in this country has to live and work with the rest of the world, so we warmly welcome the visit of the ambassador”
Later addressing the media in Kandy, Bernard Savage said that the position of the EU on GSP+ depended mainly on the human rights record of the government.
Human Rights record
“In the whole question of the GSP+ and our discussions with the Srilankan authorities, our position always depended on the human rights situation of the country. We had expressed our concerns on human rights for over year and a half, but there was no response from the government. When the situation improves, we can reconsider the position that we have taken”. The ambassador said.
In February EU Member States decided to temporarily withdraw preferential tariff benefits to Sri Lanka under a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance, known as GSP+.
“This decision follows an exhaustive investigation by the European Commission, which identified significant shortcomings in respect of Sri Lanka’s implementation of three UN human rights conventions relevant for benefits under the scheme”, says the EU in a statemment issued announcing the withdrawal.