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Dismiss EU sanctions: Lanka's New Year resolution

Sri Lanka began 2010 with diplomatic belligerence as President Mahinda Rajapaksa dismissed the European Union's suspension of trade concessions and vowed to resist foreign interference in the country.

world Updated: Jan 01, 2010 21:29 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Sri Lanka began 2010 with diplomatic belligerence as President Mahinda Rajapaksa dismissed the European Union's suspension of trade concessions and vowed to resist foreign interference in the country.

"We will not be held back by threatened economic sanctions or withdrawn trade concessions by those who seek strategic interference in the national affairs of Sri Lanka," Rajapaksa said in a New Year message.

In December, the EU had suspended Sri Lanka's preferential trade status on the grounds that it had breached commitments on human rights.

According to AFP, Sri Lanka stands to lose over 150 million dollars annually due to the EU withdrawal of preferential tariffs on Sri Lankan produce. The US and the EU are the two main markets for Sri Lanka especially in the garment sector.

In his message, Rajapaksa also indicated that he would strengthen relations with countries like China, which had helped it during the fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and did not raise issues of alleged war crimes and human rights violations.

"We remain committed to a strengthened and sustained friendship with the countries that supported us in full measure to defeat terrorism and bring peace to our people," he said Friday.

The US and European countries have criticised Sri Lanka's treatment of Tamil refugees and the fact that nearly 3 lakh displaced were made to stay in camps without any freedom of movement. It is only in the last two months that the pace of resettling the refugees had picked up. The camps were opened only on December 1.

The United Nations too has questioned the Lankan government on the circumstances of the death of three LTTE leaders. Opposition candidate and former army commander, Sarath Fonseka, had said three top Tiger leaders were allegedly shot dead by the army in cold blood while attempting to surrender.