President invited all countries to look positively at Sri Lanka as an investment hub when a delegation representing the European Union (EU) called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat today (06).

Underlying Sri Lanka’s neutrality stance, President pointed out that the best way to overcome regional hegemony would be to assist small countries such as Sri Lanka to develop and move forward at the same pace as the developed countries.

Headed by the Ambassador of the European Union to Sri Lanka Denis Chaibi, the delegation comprised Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands Tanja Gonggrijp, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Italy Allegra Baistrochchi, Ambassador of Romania Dr. Victor Chiujdea, Ambassador of France Eric Lavertu and Ambassador of Germany Jorn Rohde.

Congratulating the President on being elected to the Office on behalf of his and the delegation Mr.  Chaibi spoke positively of a well-organized presidential campaign and the well-delivered speech by the President during the swearing in ceremony.

The envoys were interested to know more about development versus devolution. President Rajapaksa stated that political solutions must go hand in hand with economic development for the benefit of the people. Taking the 13th Amendment as an example, he noted that certain areas cannot be accommodated. Instead politicians must look at alternate solutions. For instance, if police powers were handed over to the Provincial Councils, it would simply lead to politicization of police work.

President Rajapaksa noted weather was a main challenge affecting Sri Lanka’s agriculture. Therefore Sri Lanka needs to explore how methods such as greenhouse can help. He also noted the need for Sri Lanka to move from chemical to organic fertilizer. This will attract different markets. Also, he emphasized the need to make such a transformation as chemical fertilizers and pesticides are a major cause for cancer as well as a pollutant of our waterways.

Netherland Ambassador Gonggrijp agreed and explained the integrated programs Government of Netherlands has already initiated in Sri Lanka with regard to organic farming. The farmers, she pointed out, however need support from the Administration for the transformation to be successful. Italian Ambassador Baistrochchi also spoke of a spice farm project in Uva Province for female farmers that have been initiated by the Italian Government. Currently about 400 farmers are engaged with the program.

The delegation also commended the commitment of the President to address corruption, improve transparency and reward professionalism and meritocracy.

They emphasized that Sri Lanka can rely on the EU as a reliable and long term partner. Hence, an honest and efficient administration is vital component in confidence building with EU partners.