Thursday, November 25, 2010

Repairing a tarnished image- How to re-engage the International Community

Sri Lanka must play a more proactive and deliberately non-partisan approach to gaining the moral high ground in its relationship with its major trading partners, and those that are targeted for tourism promotion. While a consistent strategy is needed for global consumption, there is a dire need to look at individual countries and approach them with a plan that applies to that country or if it is the UN, EU, security or a trading bloc then a specific approach tailored to their unique needs.

In order to achieve growth targets, which are of benefit to all in the country, the perception of Sri Lanka in all the countries that matter also need to be raised. It is not sufficient to maintain that China and India offer all the development assistance required, and therefore shut off all previous partners. We must not be blind to the laws of geopolitics, where all nations that we have dealings with have an agenda, and we must be aware of this and play a tune that benefits Sri Lanka, not into the hands of one or the other, by believing their generosity as being selfless.

Our hostility especially expressed at home to the gallery, but no doubt transmitted via the embassies accredited to Colombo, by elected politicians and the implication that all in opposition are Western Stooges or funded by Imperialists, must stop immediately to have a genuinely open discourse of approaching the objectives.

There are domestic disagreements that a thriving democracy has, which must be allowed to be aired internally without fear of retribution. Then our international relations can sideline internal issues and deal with one voice to correct common misconceptions and get back to pragmatic diplomacy of a mature nation. It is regretful that the opposition has to resort to airing our dirty linen in the international arena, but to avoid this, parliament should permit more discourse of grievances and not literally steamroll divergent views, as is done at present.

If this is the case INGO’s can be engaged in presenting the facts, the Diaspora can be infiltrated to correct lies that are being spread, Foreign Governments can be constantly informed of the progress in areas like demining, resettlement and livelihood upliftment of displaced persons, and the foreign media asked to be more balanced in their reporting of issues. This will then make strides in countering the false propaganda spread by anti State elements, especially by the die hard LTTE sympathizers still bent on influencing their host countries to take a negative stance.

Finally, a proactive stance of encouraging and hosting important delegations of visitors, tourists and journalists to show them what Sri Lanka is really about will work wonders at changing the current landscape and seascape of this paradise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"At this time when Sri Lanka is well positioned to reap in full measure, the fruits of freedom from terror and leapfrog into the future, it is necessary that we make a conscious effort to recast our image to better reflect the changes on the ground. This is not to suggest that we do not have shortcomings. However, notwithstanding whatever internal issues we may have, it is in the common interest of all Sri Lankans to ensure that the dominant image of the country is a more positive one."

This was paragraph extract from the Net of a speech made by a SL diplomat that is relevant in the context of your article.