Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s remarks following bilateral talks with Turkish Foreign Minister

16 june 2016 hon mfa turkey mfa

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, 
It has been an honour and indeed a privilege to welcome to Sri Lanka the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Honourable Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. The visit is significant as this is the very first visit by a Foreign Minister of Turkey to Sri Lanka. I am confident that over the course of this visit we will build a solid foundation for this new chapter in our bilateral relations. 
We have just concluded a very productive discussion and signed the ‘Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka on Diplomatic Training, Exchange of Information and Documentation’. Greater interaction between our foreign offices would certainly pave the way for stronger ties in all spheres of cooperation between our two states. 
Your visit, Minister Çavuşoğlu comes at a very significant time. The present Government is rebalancing Sri Lanka’s relations with the international community based on the spirit on openness and also you have come at a time when Sri Lanka is moving forward on a new future based on democratization, reconciliation and development. 
Turkey has in the recent past renewed its ties and cooperation with Sri Lanka in the spheres of trade, commerce and investment. Let me say that our Government is committed to further strengthening our long standing partnership. 
The Turkish side was briefed on the steps being taken by the Government of President Maithripala Sirisena to promote human rights, reconciliation and to strengthen accountability processes as part of our Government’s overall objective of ensuring good governance. 
Discussions were also held on development cooperation.  I extended Sri Lanka’s appreciation for generous assistance given by Turkey for priority projects in collaboration with Turkey International Cooperation Agency (TIKA), the President of which is also here in Sri Lanka, with the Foreign Minister. Turkey has undertaken a housing project in Mannar and has built 100 houses as a first stage at an estimated cost of USD 300,000 being implemented by the Organisation for Habitation and Resources Development (OHRD). 
The Turkey International Cooperation Agency has expressed willingness to finance priority projects and capacity building programmes under their grant assistance in accordance with the Sri Lanka Development Framework. 
We have also discussed the possibilities of closer economic cooperation. We are keen that our trade turnover should increase in the coming years. We also want to encourage more Turkish investors to take advantage of the economic opportunities here in Sri Lanka. 
Economic and technical cooperation between the two countries have been strengthened by the signing of the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, which came into effect in 2007 (27 November 2007). We will soon hold the second meeting of the Sri Lanka-Turkey Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation.  
With a view to further enhancing and intensifying relations through financial cooperation, a MoU between Sri Lanka and Turkey will be signed in the near future. Under this MoU, Türk Exim Bank will allocate a credit line to the amount of USD 350 million to the Sri Lankan Government. 
I am confident that regular high level interactions at all levels will certainly pave the way for a stronger relationship between Turkey and Sri Lanka, which will in turn benefit our countries and our peoples. 
Earlier today, Minister Çavuşoğlu called on President Maithripala Sirisena and immediately after this will hold discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other Ministers. I am confident that these discussions will pave the way for our two countries to understand our priorities and to find ways of taking our close and friendly relations to greater heights. 
I wish Minister Çavuşoğlu and his delegation, a very pleasant stay in Sri Lanka. 
Thank you.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
15 June 2016

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