Officials of the new consulate of Sri Lanka in Thiruvananthapuram, to be formally opened next week, believe that it would play a ‘crucial’ role in repairing bilateral ties due to the growing bonhomie between Sri Lanka and China.
It will also be a help because “India’s hard posture during the recent times on the Tamil issue had caused a dent in bilateral relations with Sri Lanka,” said A Jayaprakash, Advisor to the Honorary Counsel Joemon Joseph whose appointment to the post has received the sanction of President Pranab Mukherjee.
Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam had on January 29 handed over the ‘Commission of Appointment’ to Mr. Joseph as honorary consul in Thiruvananthapuram.
The consulate is slated to start functioning from the middle of next month.
The Ministry of External Affairs was unaware of the formulation about India-Sri Lanka ties as articulated by Mr. Jospeh’s Adviser. The Sri Lankan High Commission, in the midst of quarterbacking their Foreign Minister G L Peiris’ ongoing visit to India also does not seem to have been consulted on the issue.
Presently, only Russia and the Maldives have consulates in the Kerala capital. Along with Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates that hosts a substantial Malayalee diaspora is also slated to open its consulate in Thiruvanthapuram.
According to the notification published in the Gazette of India, the consular jurisdiction of Mr. Joseph comprises the state of Kerala with the seat in Thiruvanthapuram.
“India has been and continues to place utmost importance to its bilateral ties with Sri Lanka and more particularly in view of the growing bonhomie between the latter and China. India’s hard posture during the recent times on the Tamil issue has caused a dent in bilateral relations with Sri Lanka,” said the statement by the official.
The move to open a new consulate in Trivandrum is seen as a measure to strengthen bilateral ties with Sri Lanka.”
India has consulates in the Tamil dominated Jaffna, the central Kandy and Hambantota in south which is also the power base of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka doesn’t think this has brought about parity “This is an Honorary Consul and not a proper Consul. An Honorary Consul is an Indian citizen appointed in an honorary capacity. We have two Honorary Consuls. One in Kolkata and one in Thiruvananthapuram,” said a Sri Lankan diplomat.
India has a DHC’s office in Kandy, and Consul General’s in Jaffna and Hambantota. “So they should technically give us permission to open another consulate on the basis of reciprocity,” added the diplomat. (The Hindu)