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State Foreign Minister panelist at Raisina Dialogue

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State Foreign Minister Tharaka Balasuriya was a panelist at the ninth edition of the Raisina Dialogue which took place in New Delhi from February 21 to 23.

The event is India’s premier conference on geopolitics and geo-economics and is co-hosted by the Observer Research Foundation in partnership with the External Affairs Ministry of India.

Speaking at the panel discussion titled ‘Fractured Politics: Is Development a Casualty of War’, premised on Sri Lanka’s own experience, State Minister Balasuriya observed that war has long-lasting and debilitating socio-economic and fiscal effects on a country’s progress, continuing for several decades even after the end of the conflict.

He observed that in Sri Lanka, funding for development programmes suffered as a consequence of increased military expenditure, and the country’s social development indices which in the 1980s and 1990s were the highest in the South Asian region, diminished as a result. The State Minster also noted the detrimental impact of conflict on women and their socio-economic participation. He recommended inclusive and non-discriminatory development encompassing all segments of society, and the sharing of political power as key for a country to forge ahead.

The State Minster was joined in the discussion by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Executive Director and Director of Research of The Egyptian Centre for Economic Studies, and the EU Special Representative for the Sahel of the European External Action Service of the European Union.

On the sidelines, State Minister Balasuriya met with the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi. The two State Ministers discussed the importance of economic integration for the development of both countries. In this context, the significance of advancing people-to-people connectivity was emphasized, while noting the centrality of the Ramayana Trail and shared Buddhist links in this endeavour. They recognised the need to further develop the ferry connections between Sri Lanka and India as a means to encourage and enhance tourism.

State Minister Balasuriya also held bilateral meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Bhutan Lyonpo D.N. Dhungyel, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik and Minister for Defence Personnel of Australia Matt Keogh. The meetings afforded an opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest which included education, renewable energy, fisheries, IT, and employment opportunities, among other areas of cooperation.

State Minister Balasuriya had several interactions with the New Delhi-based media. He also attended the opening ceremony of the Sri Lanka Stand at South Asia’s Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) which was held from February 22 to 24 in New Delhi. Sri Lankan High Commissioner Kshenuka Senewiratne, Deputy High Commissioner Priyanga Wickramasinghe and Minister Counsellor Wathsala Amarasinghe accompanied the State Minister during the meetings.

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