“Sweet News” from Sri Lanka - Foundation Announces Resumption of Project Work
“It’s good to have you back,” said Dr. Harsha de Silva, Deputy Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka as he welcomed the guests at the reception hosted to formally announce the resumption of liberal project work in the island republic. The function in downtown Colombo was a who-is-who of friends and partners of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). Government ministers, diplomats, liberal activists and media people, who had been associated with FNF in the past, joined the event and expressed their joy that the Foundation would be back.
“In the recent past, we have gone through some challenging moments”, said Manfred Richter of the Foundation’s Board of Directors who joined from Germany referring to the harassment of the Foundation’s staff which eventually lead to the closure of the FNF office in 2013. All this is past, Mr. Richter said highlighting numerous positive signals the Foundation has received from the new government.
“One of the first things the new government asked me to do after they came to power was to bring back the Foundations”, said Germany’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka Dr. Jürgen Morhard at the FNF function. Throughout, the ambassador and his embassy have shown great support for the Foundation a fact all speakers highlighted on that evening.
The Foundation is planning to resume project work in Sri Lanka with an office and local staff in early 2016. Regional Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus said that in the new phase the Foundation will rely heavily on the sound base of old and tested partnerships. “At the same time we will be open to new ideas and initiatives”, he said.
The Regional Office would be assisted by Mrs. Sagarica Delgoda, who has been the face of the liberal Foundation for many years and who more than others suffered under the illiberal practices of the former government.
Coinciding with the announcement of the resumption of the project, the Foundation held an internal regional meeting in Colombo. For this, senior staff members from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the head office in Germany came to Sri Lanka. As a protocol highlight the delegation visited the Parliament for an audience with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. “Our country is opening up again”, he said discussing recent political changes in Sri Lanka. “It is very sweet news, that you are returning”, the Speaker concluded to the delight of his guests.