‘Parliamentary diplomacy’ to strengthen bilateral ties

The Parliament has developed a new concept called 'Parliamentary diplomacy' to strengthen Parliament to Parliament contacts on a larger scale, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

“What we are doing is a country-to-country program. There is a close dialogue from Head of State to Head of State and then Foreign Minister to Foreign Minister dialogue and that is normally what is happening. But Parliament to Parliament contacts have not been that active or seen in larger scale,” he said.

“What we now feel is that as much as Head of the State and the Foreign Minister level, Parliament to Parliament level relationship should be further strengthened.

We have now established Parliamentary Associations and arranged exchange programs of MPs and that has worked well. We already have set up Parliamentary Associations with about 37 countries,” he said.

Speaker Jayasuriya said they have already exchanged visits. For an example, more than 75 MPs have already gone to China. Similarly, a large number of MP have gone to USA while the MPs have also started to go to European Union and the UK. Therefore this program is becoming very active. Now all Parliaments are becoming our friends.

He said in Sri Lanka we have this program on an aggressive scale. Earlier also there were Friendship Associations, but now it has become very active without burdening the Government. There will also be visits by some of our MPs to Germany. The European Union has also planned such visits and Norway has also arranged a visit and most of our women MPs are going to Norway. These are the results of establishing links with Parliaments.”

We have already signed working agreements with these countries. However, this is not a legal agreement as such. When they come, we discuss and formalise in our normal formal letters. We have already signed such agreement with USA. On that basis, we got US$ 13 million to strengthen democracy. We also work close with USA, India, China , Germany, EU and SAARC countries. These are all new developments for Parliament. This Parliament to Parliament diplomacy has worked well. 

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