By Roel Raymond
The three day official visit of Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Ukraine from June 30 to July 2 has widened bilateral relations and made way for higher levels of understanding and cooperation in sectors relating to trade, economy, tourism and human resources between the two countries.
Bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the Ukraine had existed only in the form of a Treaty and legal basis, covering just four international treaties, with the last visit by to the Ukraine being that of Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona in 2008, for the first Ukrainian-Lankan Political Consultations.
In the first ever visit of a top level official to the Ukraine, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had taken with him a delegation that included the Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L Peiris, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka accredited to the Ukraine Udayanga Weeratunga, Senior officials from the Presidential Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs, as well as a number of senior officials representing key institutions in the private sector.
A number of Ukraine-Sri Lanka intergovernmental documents and agreements were signed between the two Heads of State on Wednesday (30th June), among which were an agreement to establish a Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation and a Ukrainian-Sri Lankan Business Council.
Speaking at the Ukraine-Sri Lanka Business Forum that was held later that day (30th), President Mahinda Rajapaksa had said that post-war stability and Sri Lanka’s plans for development would give ”much scope for the expansion of economic relations between Sri Lanka and Ukraine”, adding that the Business Forum itself would provide opportunity to exchange information on markets, business climates and other opportunities.
Ukrainian President Yanukovych, at the Business Forum, had assured Sri Lanka that Ukraine was ready to develop mutually beneficial business relations and said that he was sure that by ”joining efforts, both sides will be able to awake interest in each other’s capabilities and potentials”.
President Rajapaksa had also met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Thursday (1) where the two had agreed on a number of issues pertaining to the current discussions and the Ukrainian PM had made clear his government’s readiness to immediately begin implementation of the agreements.
Mahinda Rajapaksa — Visit to the Ukraine will give Sri Lankan delegation an opportunity to observe Ukraine’s advanced technological and industrial achievements.
Viktor Yanukovych — Sri Lanka President’s visit will “open a new page in relations between Ukraine and Sri Lanka.”
Mahinda Rajapaksa — Today Sri Lanka looks forward to a post-conflict era of stability and progress. Ukraine too is poised to achieve rapid economic recovery and modernization.
Viktor Yanukovich — Main task for the future was further development and a deepening of trade and economic cooperation between Ukraine and Sri Lanka.