‘Sri Lanka on the right track after the war’

Q:How do you asses the progress of your visit to Sri Lanka?

It was a useful visit. In fact, it was a kind of research of situation

We were not only in Colombo. We visited the northern territory affected by the war, and saw for ourselves life in the area. This is also quite important. We are happy to note that the country is on a positive track.   Sri Lanka is pushing for the economic development. For the past years, we were only supplying military equipment {to Sri Lanka. Now we would like to widen our co-operation and collaboration on peace matters. We would like to take part in development and investments. We are able to use expertise in water treatment, water distribution, chemical industry and transportation.   The Czech Republic is an industrialized country with its sophisticated products. Our position is not just to make singular, unilateral efforts, but to take positive and constant action. We would like your businessmen knowing our investors, your people considering our people’s culture and our people considering your people’s culture.

Q:What has actually come out of your ‘research work’ in Sri Lanka during the visit?

I have visited a high number of countries. I can compare

I am sure that things are on a positive direction.   When we discussed whether we had potential at governmental level, each one said that it is important to develop the country and the North specially. I understand that it is a basic condition for peace.It is clear that the government is keen to improve the living conditions of people generally in the country and especially in the northern territory. We visited the IDP camps which had accommodated 300,000 persons, a high number. But, now there are only 16,000 remaining.  They will be sent home depending on the de-mining activities in the areas where they used to live.  It is a technical problem, but not lack of political goodwill. I am satisfied with what has been done.

Q:What are the potential areas for economic co-operation between the two countries?

We have enough sources of energy

 It is the main characteristic of the Czech Republic. You can’t do anything without energy. We are focussing on energy security in the Czech Republic .Not only the Czech Republic but the European Union is focusing on energy security.  We also have hydro and coal power stations. It is also another special area. Also, we have nuke power plans.   There are differences of opinions on the use of nuke power between our countries. Energy is safe.

In fact, we have capacities to supply equipment for nuclear power stations. Of course what can be important to your country is how to produce energy from biomass. In the venture in developing hydro which is a renewal energy, we have other renewal sources like rain and solar which can be also developed as new energy sources.

Q:You mentioned something about your ability to provide assistance for nuclear power plants. Did you have any interaction with the responsible authorities in Sri Lanka in this regard?

Well, we have announced our capabilities

Now it is up to the Sri Lankan side to decide what they want. We have capabilities in education and research in this sector. We can provide education in this regard in the Czech Republic. We can station small reactors here just for science, not for energy. Your side can send teams of personnel to study at the universities in the Czech Republic and do research work. Otherwise, there has been no talk on deep co-operation in this regard.  I do not think your government is seriously thinking about it either. Now for energy, main concern is for water, renewal energy, solar, wind and biomass. In short future or long future, some negotiation is required. 

Q:Is it true that your government is going to take part in the oil refinery industry and offshore oil exploration in Sri Lanka?

I must say that we are a landlocked country

We have no experience in offshore oil exploration or marine research. That must be made clear at the beginning. Of course, we have refinery industry. But, in Iraq, we are building dams and hydropower stations. I think hydro is a good source for energy. It is good for environment.

Q:But, how viable is it to depend on hydropower due to the vagaries of weather triggered by the global climate change? 

That is a story

Still it rains. Here it rains sufficiently. I think you are right. But, you have wet weather right throughout the year.

Q:What do you think the attitude of the western world towards Sri Lanka? 

We are part of the western world

 Your country should invite the western countries, and take them to the north especially so that they can see how things are moving. My opinion is that the war is now over. It is history. There is economic growth. There are some countries where people are living without a future and with difficulties, but here the future seems much more positive. Let people be satisfied and look for a better future. It is for Sri Lanka to explain this to the world. Of course, we are focusing on human rights. We had unilateral regimes in our country. That is why, our agitation is for human rights.

Q:What is the stand of your government on the report issued by the Advisory Panel to the UN Secretary General?

It is a matter between the Sri Lankan government and the UN

 It is up to the government to respond. It is not an issue concerning the bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the Czech Republic.  It is important for the government to be transparent in the process. We are not there to comment on it. It is much easier for Sri Lanka if the UN understands the real story here. I am a very practical man. I am a practical person focusing on future economic development.   The war is over here. There is peace.

Q:Despite all these plans to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries, you are yet to set up an embassy in Colombo. Why is it?

It is not a question of bilateral relations

It is a question of money. We had closed some embassies within the last couple of years.. We are on a negative track. But, we have an embassy in New Delhi. We have an Honorary Consul here. There is no major distance between New Delhi and Colombo. We can organize bilateral visits.   The Ambassador in New Delhi has visited Sri Lanka four times last month.

Q:What is the potential for the development of tourism in the two countries?

 The number of tourists from the Czech Republic to Sri Lanka is on the rise after the war

There were problems with regard to the security. Now it is over. We can say our people that Sri Lanka is a safe place to be in.

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