February 16, 2016 12:15 pm
President Maithripala Sirisena arrived in Berlin last evening starting his four day state visit to Germany. Amongst the Sri Lankan delegation were Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama and Primary Industries Minister Daya Gamage
The President will begin his first official duty this morning by going to the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe where he is scheduled to be welcome by the representatives of the foundation. Thereafter the President is scheduled to visit a Castle.
Meanwhile in the evening the President is scheduled to hold discussions with the former Hamburg Economic Senator Ian Karan while the Sri Lankan ministers are also scheduled to participate at this discussion.
One of the most important events in the president’s schedule is the Sri Lanka-German economic forum. A business delegation of over 35 including chairmen and CEOs of Sri Lanka’s leading companies representing sectors such as tourism, leisure, automobile, food processing, machinery, travel and construction will also arrive in Berlin before 18 February.
The chairman of Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment (BoI) Upul Jayasuriya, Chairperson of the Export Development Board Indira Malwatte, Chairman of the Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman, Rohantha Athukorala and Director General of the Tea Board Anura Siriwardena are also among the business delegation from Sri Lanka.
Speaking to Ada Derana, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Germany Karunathilake Amunugama added that the German government has pledged support to develop sports in Sri Lanka, mainly offering scholarships to sportsmen and women.
Meanwhile German educational institutions have already offered Sri Lankan students scholarships in the areas of education and cultural sectors.
In the tourism sector German tourist arrivals to the island nation have increased by 20 percent in 2015 compared to previous years.
The German government has changed its previous policy towards Sri Lanka after the election of President Maithripala Sirisena and his new approach in the reconciliation process, the Ambassador added.
The German government is very happy with the new political landscape and now it will help to uplift and embrace the economic landscape by assisting Sri Lanka to boost its economy.
The overwhelming response from the German business leaders signifies the change of attitude of Germany ever since the election of the new president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile the German government will assist to enhance the German technical institute in Sri Lanka which has produced thousands of technical experts in Verizon’s engineering and automobile sector.
Germany will assist to establish a similar institute in Kilinochchi to provide opportunities for hundreds of youth in the region.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador added that a government delegation headed by the Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe will negotiate with the German government to establish more similar technical institutions in other parts of the country.
One must not forget that the German government plays a pivotal role in the EU Parliament and its assistance would certainly help Sri Lanka to once again mark its economic presence in Europe.
Germany has proved this by acting positively by passing a resolution in the EU Parliament backing Sri Lanka to gain the GSP plus.
Shehan Baranage Reporting from Berlin