German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who visited Sri Lanka at the invitation of Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera concluded his one day visit to Sri Lanka today, Tuesday 22 September 2015.
During the visit which was the first official visit by a German Foreign Minister in 11 years, Foreign Minister Steinmeier called on President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat, had a meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees and held official bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later the same evening was hosted to dinner. The delegation at the talks included Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha De Silva, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Chitranganee Wagiswara and other senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister Steinmeier also visited the construction site of the German Technical Training Institute in Kilinochchi.
At the official talks, the two sides agreed to renew, revive and strengthen relations between Germany and Sri Lanka. Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed the very responsible manner in which the Government has taken steps to bring about reconciliation and to look into accountability issues by building political consensus through the formation of a National Unity Government. He assured that Germany would fully support and encourage these efforts both at the bilateral level as well as in its capacity as the current chair of the Human Rights Council.
Foreign Minister Samaraweera briefed the German delegation on the four tiered structure proposed by the Government to address post conflict issues which includes a truth seeking structure, a permanent office for missing persons, a special domestic mechanism to look into accountability issues with international assistance, reparation for victims and measures to ensure future non recurrence.
Pledging support for economic development, Foreign Minister Steinmeier undertook to encourage German businessmen to invest in Sri Lanka and in this context welcome the recent announcement by Volkswagen that it proposes to open an automobile assembly plant in Sri Lanka. Both sides agreed to actively work towards enhancing bilateral trade. It was noted that total trade last year amounted to US$ 824 million and that two sides would seek to enhance trade to reach the US$ 1 billion mark in the next few years.
After the conclusion of talks, Minister Samaraweera and Foreign Minister Steinmeier addressed the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Minister expressed his pleasure to be able to continue the dialogue that was initiated when he visited Berlin in May this year. The Minister welcomed the agreement reached to build on the multifaceted bilateral relationship and forge stronger people-to-people contact. Recalling relations between Sri Lanka and Germany that dated back generations, the Minister highlighted the generous grant assistance of Germany to vocational training and skills development through the setting up of the German Technical Training Institute in Katubedda over four decades ago which has greatly empowered young people and the German Technical Training Institute now under construction in Kilinochchi which will be of immense benefit to youth of the North and East.
Addressing the press, Minister Steinmeier commended the Government and the people of Sri Lanka for the decisions taken to strengthen democracy and assured that Germany will stand by Sri Lanka. He referred to the continued assistance Germany would provide in the areas of skills development, protection of culturally significant monuments and sustainable energy.
23 September 2015