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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Our Diplomatic Missions Focused on Representing Sri Lankan Policy Effectively - Hussein Bhaila Deputy Foreign Minister

By K T Rajasingham

Colombo, 29 February, ( In an interview with the Asian Tribune, Hussein Bhaila, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who overseas consular affairs in the Ministry, stated that the Sri Lankan embassies round the world were enforcing a policy of countering the propaganda of the LTTE and that government’s position that the Tamil people were viewed differently from the ruthless terrorists known as LTTE. He was satisfied that our diplomatic missions were on their toes to give a true picture of what is being done internationally by the government. He encouraged the diaspora to write to the Ministry pin pointing any shortcomings and grievances which need immediate attention. “We are open to a dialogue with the expatriates and you can quote me, we want them to let us know how we are doing, Minister said. He emphasized that the Diplomatic Missions, especially in Europe are doing their utmost to bring forward the country’s point of view on the question of LTTTE and the Tamil people. Hussein Bhaila: "We would say that we have been doing it very well. Banning of LTTE and the statement we have seen against the LTTE are speaking for themselves."Hussein Bhaila: "We would say that we have been doing it very well. Banning of LTTE and the statement we have seen against the LTTE are speaking for themselves."

Here is the full text of the interview:

Asian Tribune : There are Sri Lankan Embassies and diplomatic missions all over the world. Unfortunately, Sri Lankan embassies are not adapting themselves to the rising international situation with respect to LTTE. LTTE has opened up their own offices all over the world and they are doing lot of lobbying and they are very successful in this lobbying and our embassies are not up to that. Why is that?

Hussein Bhaila : In the first instance, I will not accept the fact that we are not up to fast emerging situation. We are adapting ourselves according to the emerging trends and situations. We are working very hard and I would say that the results will speak for themselves. We have been able to ban the LTTE in so many countries due to the lobbying done by our ambassadors and our embassies. So I will not accept that our embassies are not doing anything.

Asian Tribune : But have Sri Lankan missions abroad really met the emerging challenges ?

Hussein Bhaila: I would not accept that. I would say that they have been adapting themselves and they have been conducting themselves very strongly where the LTTE is concerned.

Asian Tribune: LTTE are master tacticians and worth watching, for example, in USA now they have come up with a new organization called “Tamils for Justice” and they have retained one of the former Deputy Attorney Generals of USA. A new phenomena. The retained attorney has started criticizing the Sri Lanka government, criticizing the Sri Lanka President. Challenging the Sri Lanka’s US Ambassador for a debate. Has Sri Lanka diplomatic missions done enough to tackle these fast emerging problems?

Hussein Bhaila: That again is a subjective analysis. We would say that we have been doing it very well. Banning of LTTE and the statement we have seen against the LTTE are speaking for themselves.

Asian Tribune: In London they have got a group of British MPs who are supporting the cause of LTTE. The British MPs are speaking things on behalf of the LTTE. In addition in France they have got pro-LTTE French journalists and French electronic media supporting the LTTE cause. But as far as Sri Lanka is concern, it does not has any organization such as Sri Lanka caucus, or friendship societies in France to promote Sri Lanka, except for some organizations of Sri Lankan diaspora.

Hussein Bhaila: We have friendship organizations in many of these countries. Embassies have built up friendship associations and our President has already directed all missions to start off friendship association and to enlist people from that particular country in the associations. That is now taking off the ground and even in the Middle East we have started that.

Asian Tribune: But the problem is not Asian countries, the problem Sri Lanka is confronted is in many countries in Europe and North America.

Hussein Bhaila: Even in those countries we have started and as I said earlier, even in Middle East we have started it now. In some other countries these types of associations had existed since for a long time.

Asian Tribune: There is no Sri Lanka Caucus anywhere. Earlier there was one in USA, but it is no more or else defunct now and we don’t have it in any other country. It is a must in UK, as well as in all the major European Union countries.

Hussein Bhaila: I am not sure about the Sri Lanka Caucus in USA is defunct.

Asian Tribune: It is almost defunct, that is what reports are pointing to.

Hussein Bhaila: I have to look into that

Asian Tribune: Sri Lanka doesn’t have similar caucus in any other part of the world?

Hussein Bhaila: We have been working on a different theme and accent maybe be not in the name of Caucus or such.

Asian Tribune: Then what?

Hussein Bhaila: Our approaches have been different. We have been having direct contacts with MPs and with party leaders in all those democratic countries. Advent of such new approaches and we found them useful to us in the aspect of foreign relations.

Asian Tribune : For Sri Lanka there are not much of established friends of Sri Lanka among the legislators in many countries.

Hussein Bhaila: Friends of Sri Lanka?

Asian Tribune: Yes, and Sri Lanka even doesn’t have caucuses?

Hussein Bhaila: That is what I said; we are working in various ways not only in the issue of LTTE, but overall Sri Lanka’s position in everything. This is what our embassies are working on. We are not only concentrating on the LTTE, but we are also looking at the overall picture of Sri Lanka’s foreign relations with the host countries.

Asian Tribune: What about UK? UK was the hot bed of LTTE, since 1984 and the Sri Lanka mission in London was not able to circumvent or stop the activities of the LTTE, because Sri Lanka’s diplomatic effort until now has been a failure as far as the UK is concerned?

Hussein Bhaila: Again I won’t agree with your conclusion that it is a failure. UK has banned the LTTE and that itself is a success and as a continuing process, even at present there is a parliamentary delegation in UK.

Asian Tribune : But even though there is a parliamentary delegation the world does not know what is happening?

Hussein Bhaila: People who have to know are the British parliamentarians and our parliamentarians will be meeting their counterparts and briefing them on the situation and the atrocities committed by the LTTE.

Asian Tribune: There is a general perception that Sri Lanka diplomatic missions, especially in Europe is not doing much to contain the rising propaganda and disinformation campaign by the LTTE?

Hussein Bhaila: Again as I said when you started the first question, that I will not agree that our diplomatic missions are not doing enough. I think our diplomatic missions are performing admirably. At the moment work is being done to the satisfaction of the Ministry.

Asian Tribune: I think the work has to be done to the satisfaction to the country as a whole?

Hussein Bhaila: Country as a whole … yes, I don’t think there is a problem and nobody says that the Ministry has not done enough.

Asian Tribune: I am not talking about the Ministry, we are talking about the International diplomatic efforts by Sri Lankan embassies and diplomatic missions abroad?

Hussein Bhaila: Efforts by the embassies are the matters of concern for the Ministry. Therefore, I feel satisfaction at the way our embassies have been functioning.

Asian Tribune: I don’t want to nail down any particular situation but what I said was in a general sense-a general concern.

Hussein Bhaila: If there is any particular concerns please let us know, we will look into those factors also if there are any shortcomings we will definitely look into them.

Asian Tribune: I think you should request the Sri Lanka diaspora or the Sri Lanka expatriates who are living abroad to pinpoint and write to the Ministry the shortcomings and their grievances if any.

Hussein Bhaila: Yes, we are definitely open to that and you can quote me as saying that if there is any shortcoming or grievances they can personally write to the Minster or to me and we will look into them seriously.

Asian Tribune: In conclusion, I want to have your final observations of the activities of Sri Lanka’s Embassies and diplomatic mission abroad.

Hussein Bhaila: Diplomatic missions, especially in Europe in my opinion are doing their utmost to bring forward the country’s point of view on the question of LTTE and the Tamil people, because our view is that the LTTE is completely different from the Tamil people. Our stand is very well known and that is what we are trying to project to the international community, that we view the Tamil peoples’ problems as different from that of the LTTE’s atrocities and terrorism. And that is the line we are even asking our embassies and diplomatic missions to inform the international community.

- Asian Tribune -

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