Myopic Sirisena dents Sri Lanka’s friendship with Russia – Part II
Posted on February 3rd, 2018

by: A.A.M.NIZAM – MATARA

Focussing the attention on another direction the LEN website stated that it is a pity Sirisena who gleefully and proudly said ‘ I am the one who was invited to Russia after 44 years and  Putin is my friend ’ did not have any sense of diplomacy despite being a president of the country. It said that Sirisena who knows only to brag does not know how to resolve matters diplomatically or give   diplomatic answers. The website disclosed that Sirisena ‘s much vaunted invitation to Russia after 44 years was not an invitation extended to Sirisena by Russia, but rather an invitation extracted via inducements.    It said when Sirisena was earlier invited to the G 8 conference he had occasion to meet  the Russian president most briefly and Sirisena’s translator told Putin that our president likes to see your country as he has not seen Russia’ and Putin ‘s reply was ‘ then pay a visit .‘  After casually saying that Putin left the venue and that was a very brief meeting lasting just a few seconds.

The website said that Sirisena upon returning to Sri Lanka began writing letters after letters to the Russian foreign ministry saying that their president at the G8 conference extended an invitation for him to visit to Russia and several such letters were sent begging  to make official arrangements towards the visit.  It is only thereafter, unable to endure the pestilence that the invitation from Russia was sent .So that is how the so-called invitation after 44 years was solicited. Sadly, this close  friendship flaunted by Sirisena however was  reciprocated in a most weird way  by president Sirisena’s so called bosom pal Putin  – he imposed  a ban on Sri Lanka‘s tea and plantation product exports.  Though this reaction did not match the obnoxious action taken by  Sri Lanka in exactitude, by July 2017 itself there were signals that Russia is going to retaliate.  It is the present minister of foreign affairs for Russia Surgey Lavrov, who speaks Sinhala fluently and who considers Sri Lanka as his second homeland who  has revealed  what was in store.   Even Sirisena’s maturity had been ignored.

The website said that in November, four Inspection centers were established at   Russia’s four Customs departments of the State to obtain quarantine certificates pertaining to imports of agricultural products.  However Sirisena’s present ambassador in Russia,  Saman an acolyte of Mangala had been unconcerned and had been blind  to this  development.

While there was no need for a quarantine certificate when Sri Lanka tea was imported into Russia after 2012 , Saman who is there after getting an extension  had not inquired why  these changes are  being effected? This unconcern of his was  natural because Saman is there to facilitate the warship deal  engineered by Maithri-Maharaja group, and the gaze is only  on colossal illicit commissions which are part and parcel of the deal.

The website concluded the long article by saying that the decision taken by Russia against Sri Lanka will apply to four other countries -Kazakhastan , BeloRussia , Kirgisthan and Tajikistan and Syria which is a  close friend of Russia is also likely to abide by this decision. Since Sri Lanka exports tea to all these countries, the situation is most grave and portentous.

In the long article published by the Sinhala medium website Lanka CNews under the title Russia avenges Sri Lanka over the asbestos ban – Here is the hidden story of the tea ban” the former Sri Lankan Ambassadore to Russia Mr. Udayanga Weeratunga says that as per a policy of Sirisena the Sri Lankan government has taken a decision to ban asbestos roofing sheets.  Accordingly by 2020 asbestos roofing sheets will be completely banned in Sri Lanka.  The reason given is that asbestos cause cancer. Russia is the main country that exports asbestos to Sri Lanka. The former Russian Ambassador in Sri Lanka Alexander Kerchavo has officially expressed his bitter resentment to the Sri Lanka government against this decision taken to ban asbestos without any research report.

 

It is not a secret that rejection of asbestos from Russia which purchases 25% of our tea exports and which was the leading tea importing country during the last 10 – 15 years will make a death blow to our economy.  It was in July 2017 we got the indication that Russia may reject agricultural products from Sri Lanka.   Mr. Udayanga says that when Russia has Mr, Surgey Lavrov, who speaks Sinhala fluently and who considers Sri Lanka as his second homeland as its minister of foreign affairs Sri Lanka could have resolved its problems with Russia amicably.  He says that Sri Lanka took no action in this regard and the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Russia ignored the establishment of four Inspection centers in the customs to obtain quarantine certificates pertaining to imports of agricultural products. Since 2012 quarantine certificates pertaining to imports of agricultural products from Sri Lamka were not required earlier.but it has been decided to make it conditional now for our exports.

The former Ambassdor reminds that when Sirisena government came to power in 2015 the then foreign Minister accused that Russia has supplied arms and ammunition to Ukranian rebels through the Sri Lankan Ambassador and placed Russia in a precarious situation internationally and Russia did not respond to these allegations instantly and had been waiting for asuitable opportunity to respond to the allegations.  He says that the Sirisena government is now receiveing response from other countries as J.R.Jayawardene government received in 1977.  Mr. Udayanga says that relations between Russia and Sri Lanka have also affected by the non payment of the 10% advance for Jifard warship due to Rosbaron Institute by December and handing over of Russian long range intelligence officers to the United States on the sly.  He also refers many other diplomatic mishandling that had been made by the Sirisena government.  The former Ambaassador also points out that there are 83×40’ containers belonging to Sri Lanka are being held at St. Petersberg custom and Sri  Lanka will have to incur about Rs. 500,000 as inspection charges for each container and up to now the Sri Lanka Embassy has not taken necessary action to get these containers cleared.

Mr. Udayanga also criticizes the attempts being made by some Sri Lankan Ministers to vist Russia for a meeting with the Russian Minister of Agriculture without prior agreemet as this is a Holiday period in Russia.  

Having got exposed their folly the Cabinet met under the chairmanship of Sirisena has decided to temporarily suspend the asbestos ban wih effect from 1st January,  Earlier it was decided to ban the import of asbestos raw materials frm January 1st, 2018 and completely ban asbestos by th year 2020.

Foreign reports indicate that Kenya which is a major tea exporter and a main competitor against Ceylon Tea in the international tea market is making extensive measures to capture the Russian tea market.  A special team of Kenyans are due to visit Russia soon and Kenya plans to export 44 Millions kilogras of tea to Russia. Tea market sources have indicated that if the Russian ban persists for about six months Sri; Lanka will lose the entire Russian market for its tea.   

The Chairman of the National Movement for Protection of Consumer Rigjts Mr. Ranjith Vithanage has asked that if a beetle was capaabe of removing the asbestos bam what is the use of having rulers for our country?  He says that asbestos ban was introduced saying that it causes cancer, and asks whether it will not cause cancer now.

Meanwhile, the joint opposition points out that it is not merely for the beetle issue that Russia has suspended tea imports from Sri Lanka.   Addressing a media conference in Colobo,the joint opposition said that it was due to the western slavish foreign policy of the country that Russia has taken a tough stance and imposed a ban on Tea imports from Sri Lanka.  They said that the whole world looking at Sri Lanka today as a junior partner of the West.

(To be continued)

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