Opinion

French-Sri Lanka

May 12, 2023

Following a meeting former Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama had with his counterpart Bernard Brice Kouchner in Paris, in 2009, with other senior French officials, on a three-day tour to Paris, it was agreed to accommodate job opportunities for migrants from Sri Lanka in France. It mainly dealt with professionals, skilled workers, and IT and natural science students. It was also proposed that a protocol be signed between the Governments of Sri Lanka and France in this connection, as per Dhamith de Silva in Paris, who has contacts with the IMO (the International Organisation for Migration and part of the United Nations) as the. IMO has connections with 175 member states and a presence in over 100 countries.)

Luncheon at the cost of IOM.

Yadmani of the IOM said a lunch was organised for the Sri Lankan delegation and IOM on Monday, 16 March 2009. The IOM France had been working with the Sri Lankan all panels from the beginning when they visited France. Mr Dhamith de Silva was also at lunch, and Mrs Himali Arunatilake (Ambassador at the time to Geneva) represented the Sri Lankan delegation that visited France.

Mr Sunil Sirisena led the Sri Lanka panel. They were informed to prepare an agreement in Colombo, and the French Minister would accompany them to sign it.

Dhamith De Silva followed it up with another email on October 2022. It read: “Dear Shantha, I am forwarding the mail sent to Himali Arunatilake by Marika Seke Maraki sent on 13 March 2009 stating that IOM will give a working lunch on 16 March at the restaurant l’Européen.

Dhamith De Silva also mentioned that they had worked hard to see this project efficaciously. IOM had a working lunch with the Sri Lankan delegation (Mr Sunil Sirisena and others) on 16 March 2009, hosted by IOM France. This meeting was crucial for the panel as they met the French officials the next day. The email was copied to Forster Florian and Seye Maraki, Envoyé le Vendrand, and it contained, “as discussed on the phone a few days ago. I confirm that IOM is inviting you for a working lunch on Monday, 16 March 2009, at the restaurant l’Européen, Paris. The booking was under IOM’s name. Apart from being a Sri Lankan delegation member, Dhamith De Silva would also be present at lunch.”

Dhamith de Silva visited Sri Lanka on 7 March 2023. He emailed the Ambassador’s secretary informing her that ‘Mr Dhamith de Siva would like to meet the Ambassador and brief him about the Agreement to be signed with France on Sri Lanka (bilateral Agreement) on the ‘re-admission agreement’ by the EU and Sri Lanka.’ He also mentioned that he previously reported to the former French Ambassadors in Sri Lanka and a few Sri Lankan Ambassadors in Paris. He has also briefed the former Ambassadors of France to Sri Lanka, Madam Christine Robichon, Mr Jean Marin Schuh and the Deputy Ambassadors Mark Lamy and Isabelle Miscot. On the verge of leaving Sri Lanka, he said he could not meet with the Ambassador because he left Sri Lanka suddenly on 8 March 2023. On 18 February 2023, EU-Sri Lanka Joint Readmission Committee met in ColomboIt revealed that Sri Lanka could still go for a bilateral agreement with France to help the labour migration to France and the Sri Lankan students to study in France free of charge.

Categorically unfortunate situation.

It is an unfortunate situation that when an EU country ( France) extends its arm to give a helping hand to Sri Lankans, including those who are illegally resident in France, and students to get free education, it is abandoned by the bureaucratic bungling of those who were in power for the past 12 years, from 2009. To this end, four Ministers had to work together – the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Public Security, the Minister of Foreign Employment and the Ministry of Education. The Foreign Ministry’s legal department apparently restricted it by neglecting to prepare the Agreement when the French were ready to sign; an Executing order should come from the top in Sri Lanka.

It was alleged that restrictions had come up by the Foreign Ministry’s legal department, where they needed help to prepare an agreement when the French were ready to sign. If more facts are required, don’t hesitate to contact Mr Damith Silva at +33. 870. 815. 615. 946 or email him at Dhamith De Silva <dhamithdesilva@yahoo.com>.

Regarding illegal Sri Lankan immigrants in France, Foreign Minister Bogollagama said in 2009 that it was estimated that about 120,000 Sri Lankans lived in France (mostly Tamil), and many enjoy refugee status. He said it has also been suggested that up to 30,000 of those would fall into the illegal category in 2009.

Damith de Silva says he must inform the concerned authorities why this agreement has yet to be signed since 2009. He says he holds French and Sri Lankan dual nationality and has lived in France for the last 41 years.

EC ACT

European Council Decision (2005/372/EC) of 3 March 2005 concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on the re-admission of persons residing without authorisation is approved by the decision.

Summary of the EC ACT.

“At the time of entry, a person should hold a valid visa or residence authorisation issued by Sri Lanka or entered the territory of the Member State (France).”

“The Agreement is without prejudice to the rights, obligations and responsibilities of the Community, the Member State France and Sri Lanka arising from international law and, in particular, from any applicable International Convention or Agreement to which they are Parties.”

“The Agreement applies to the territory where the Treaty establishing the European Community is applicable (except the Kingdom of Denmark) and Sri Lanka.

“The Contracting Parties will ratify or approve the Agreement under their respective procedures.”

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