Sri Lanka’s foreign policy seriously misguided: Dayan

Published : 9:59 am  June 30, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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dayan2By Chandeepa Wettasinghe

Sri Lanka should ally itself with the East instead of the West due to the country’s geopolitical and economic attributes, according to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, a leading political analyst in the country.

“Sri Lanka is part of Asia. The United National Party (UNP) administration from 1977 to the late 1980s thought that we should be allied with the West. It is imprudent to be pro-Western. Our primary ties and identity should be Asian. When we forget that and think we can be part of the alliance of the West, I’m sorry to say that we are being delusional,” he said.
The current UNP regime too is widely considered to be aligning with the West, despite the policymakers saying that Sri Lanka will be non-aligned.

However, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been quoted saying that the Eastern markets prefer to mirror Western lifestyles, therefore justifying Sri Lanka catering to and developing Western tastes— a belief accepted by many businessmen.
Since a large portion of China’s oil supply travels by Sri Lanka through the new Maritime Silk Route, both Chinese and Western influence into the country could increase naturally as part of the international standoff between the major powers. However, Dr. Jayatilleka said that the West would not help Sri Lanka in times of turmoil.

“If the West can’t bail out Greece, which was the birthplace of their civilization and democracy, they won’t help Sri Lanka,” Dr. Jayatilleka made his case.
According to him, China is a better principal for Sri Lanka, over the Western powers.

“Playing the China card makes a lot of sense economically. Why should we forgo the opportunities of Asia as an economic power? Can China serve our national interests – not ideologically but realistically?” he inquired.

It remains to be seen whether China would be altruistic in its relations with Sri Lanka, already coming under criticism for providing high-interest loans in lieu for developmental funding. Further, China’s ambitious expansionist policies in the East and South China seas come as warnings.

Dr. Jayatilleka said that the foreign policy has to be based on realism, determined by the location, democracy, long-term trends and very specific, sharp, challenges of a country, instead of ideologies.

“The making of foreign policy has to be determined by the clear awareness of the national interests and interests of our industry. Those who conduct our foreign policy should be lucidly aware of the interests of the country,” Dr. Jayatilleka said.

He expressed disappointment over the policymakers not realizing the national interests since 1977, barring the time of office of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. However, he was also critical of the past regime’s treatment of India. “I am not happy with the way the previous administration tapped into China at the expense of India. We can’t have an equidistant relationship with India and China,” Dr. Jayatilleka said.