It was an impressive sight as the Norwegian Prime Minister arrived at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. A horse cavalcade, Kandyan dancers and drummers as well as the air force greeted her upon arrival. She was also honoured with a 19-gun salute. Solberg is in fact the first sitting Prime Minister of Norway to visit Sri Lanka, she is also the first European Head of State to visit after last year’s presidential election. Solberg had a productive bilateral meeting with the President, and also met with the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader. These were valuable follow-ups to Foreign Minister Brende’s visit in January and State Secretary Hattrem’s visit in May. Cooperation within fisheries, the energy sector as well as business opportunities between Norway and Sri Lanka were discussed.
Memorial lecture on Sustainable Development Goals
The Prime Minister held the memorial lecture at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, on the 11th anniversary of the assasination of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar. Solberg honoured his efforts in the peace building process and recognized Sri Lanka’s strong ties to the UN, and their positive progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. She is co-chair of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group and emphasized the importance of free health services and education, which Sri Lanka has had for decades, providing a good basis for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG’s requires cooperation across national borders to succeed, as an example, Solberg mentioned the Sri Lanka Norway fisheries cooperation on sustainable use of marine resources.
Potential fishery cooperation
The second day of the visit the delegation travelled south to visit Mirissa fishing harbour and the historical Galle Fort. Foreign Minister Samaraweera and Minister of Fisheries Amaraweera accompanied the Norwegian Prime Minister. After an interesting tour through the colourful harbour where local specialities such as yellow-fin tuna were presented, the ministers had a good discussion around opportunities for cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture. The sunny day in the south concluded with a walk along the famous Galle Fort Wall.
And, only the next day the Sri Lankan Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture flew to Norway to participate at the Nor-Fishing exhibition in Trondheim and for further discussion on fishery cooperation.