Sri Lanka Information

Foreign Policy

Historical Context

The arrival of Buddhism to the island in the 3rd century BC sets a land mark in the Sri Lankan foreign policy as the relationship between India and Sri Lanka have been very firm since then and prevailing up to date. Apart from the relations with India, Sri Lanka has historically been well connected with other countries such as Italy, China, Cambodia, Africa and Vietnam, etc in terms of trade, religion and culture. The country was colonized with the arrival of colonial powers in the beginning of the 16th century. After Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, local authorities gained power and subsequently foreign policy has been developed with ups and downs. During the post independent period, Sri Lanka underwent through several phases of foreign policy. Among them, the commonwealth phase, search of Asian identify, policy of non alignment, adaptation of an open economy, non aligned free and progressive foreign policy are remarkable.

Present Context

At present Sri Lanka has engaged in a ‘remedial foreign policy’ under the realm of good governance. As a result, there is an ‘openness to engage’ in the sphere of foreign affairs in Sri Lanka. Apparently, the high-level visits made by foreign delegations to Sri Lanka during the last few months and various diplomatic discussions and talks with foreign high-level delegations on economic relations, tourism and etc envisage a vast opening up in the Sri Lankan Foreign Policy. In fact, the openness in the current foreign policy has enabled many foreign organizations; business ventures to return to Sri Lanka and continue to engage in their work and business.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Institutional wise, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka primarily deals with foreign relations and the foreign policy of the country with the aim of expanding foreign relations and diplomatic ties with foreign countries and International organizations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs have made several bilateral agreements that cover air services, supply of man power, tourism, transfer of prisoners, avoidance of double taxation, cultural cooperation agreements and promotion and protection of investment agreements with relevant parties. This helps maintain and foster foreign policy and foreign relations of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also ensures that welfare of the Sri Lankans living abroad through the established networks and missions abroad. The ministry also intervenes in issues that arise with regard to foreign assistance, economic partnerships, labour disputes and border issues with the neighboring water territory.

2025 Vision

In January and August 2015, people of Sri Lanka exercised their franchise in a decisive manner, marking historic milestones in Sri Lankan country’s journey.  People in the north, south, east, west, and centre came together to vote for a change in Sri Lanka’s political culture against the politics of ethnic and religious division and against extremism on all sides; against impunity; for a strong democracy; for the rule of law and good governance; for reconciliation and sustainable peace; equality; upholding, promoting and protecting human rights of all and the pluralistic nature of Sri Lankan society; for inclusive ; equitable growth and development of the country. These were the aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka who voted to send a message to those who they elected that the promise of strong democracy and democratic institutions. The promise of reconciliation, sustainable peace and the promise of development must be fulfilled.

Some of our promises have already been fulfilled. Chief among them are the restoration of Sri Lanka’s image on the international stage, the 19th amendment to the constitution. The setting up of independent commissions, the Right to Information Act, the restoration of the freedom of expression, public consultations on the proposed reconciliation mechanisms and the constitution, the setting up of the constitutional assembly, measures to rid our nation of corruption and usher in a culture of good governance. Sri Lankan have taken vital steps to reduce our debt burden, uplift the economic conditions of all citizens and ease the cost of living. Providing salary increments for state and non-state workers, increasing pension and Samurdhi payments, reducing the cost of essential items such as petrol, gas and medicine, were some measures taken by the Government to achieve the stated goals. Thus far more than 430,000 new jobs have been created in our efforts to create a million jobs. On others, Sri Lankan have initiated processes which are yet to reach fruition, but work continues with diligence. As in all democracies, progress is often not made in straight lines. Sri Lanka too, like all other countries in the world is susceptible to the influence of global developments, natural disasters ,  related challenges  and faces setbacks as a result.

However, as Sri Lankan now stand at the threshold of marking the 70th anniversary of independence of our nation, Sri Lankan are determined and firm in their resolve to work with constant, consistent effort and perseverance to ensure that they realise their dream of a stable, peaceful, reconciled, and prosperous Sri Lanka, for all people of Sri Lanka, a dream that has eluded us for many years. This document sets out the path Sri Lankan are taking to make that dream a reality. Read Full Text of 2025 vision Document ...

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka