Ambassador Hangawatte adresses Sri Lankan community leaders in Paris
Embassy of Sri Lanka Paris
Published: 02 Jul 2013
Leaders of cultural, educational, welfare, sports, youth and political associations in Paris gathered at the Embassy of Sri Lanka to meet and greet Ambassador Hangawatte last Friday evening.
Addressing the large gathering of invitees, Ambassador Hangawatte expressed his pleasure at welcoming everyone to the friendly, informal meeting.
The Ambassador expressed the need for all community members to come together for the advancement of our motherland irrespective of ethnic and religious diversities or different political ideologies. He assured the representatives of associations that each and every one would be treated equally by him and that the same interest and concern would be displayed to all. “It is of no concern to me,” the Ambassador insisted “which religious or political convictions you share as long as we can work together to advance the interests of Sri Lanka.”
Speaking of the meetings held with religious leaders of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Catholic communities since his arrival in Paris, Ambassador Hangawatte stated that they were foremost and valuable initiatives towards building firm relationships with the Sri Lankan Diaspora in France. Reiterating the importance of unity within the community, he declared earnestly: “I hope that you will take the hand of friendship that I have extended to you today”
The Ambassador outlined some of the immediate work undertaken as Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO geared towards the advancement of multilateral relations and the initiatives taken to improve bilateral relations with the French Government. He showed confidence in sharing the positive reactions displayed towards Sri Lanka during the meetings he has held with other diplomats.
Referring to administrative and structural reforms of the Embassy undertaken by him since last month, Ambassador Hangawatte assured the gathering that new measure will further enhance the efficiency of the Embassy staff in better assisting members of the community who require consular, passport renewal or registration services.
Addressing questions submitted to him by Sri Lankan associations, Ambassador Hangawatte detailed some of the short term and long term plans to promote Sri Lanka’s culture in France. He gave examples of traditional art, handicraft, photography and sculptures which could be promoted through exhibitions while adding that cultural similarities between multi ethnic communities in Sri Lanka could be highlighted through diverse forms of performing art such as music, dance and cinema, focusing on the goal of strengthening peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
In answer to a question pertaining to consular services at the Embassy, Ambassador Hangawatte advised members of the Diaspora to closely follow new procedures which will soon be set in motion in the consular section of the Embassy and to show cooperation in submitting all required documents when applying for specific services.
On the subject of development in the North, Ambassador Hangawatte talked of his experience working as a member of the LLRC Commission and shared some of the first hand testimonials of farmers of the area, notably their dire need for water for cultivation of land and mentioned steps taken by the government to address this situation. The Ambassador mentioned the Iranamadu fresh water tank which has been restored by the Sri Lankan army to supply drinking water to populations in Jaffna. The Ambassador also added the value of the Palali airport and the proposed highway linking Jaffna to Colombo.
In answer to questions regarding extremist activities in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Hangawatte gave concise examples illustrating that such incidents were condemned by His Excellency the President and legal measures have already been undertaken against perpetrators.
The meeting came to a close as Ambassador Hangawatte reiterated the need for unity and his wish for cooperation and support from the Sri Lankan community in order to achieve the objectives he has outlined.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
Paris | 28th June 2013