Sri Lanka, currently caught in an economic crisis, has decided to close its embassy in Oslo on April 30. Sri Lankan officials attributed the closure to a “general” restructuring of its diplomatic representation around the world, at a time when the country is also suffering severe financial problems.
The country’s foreign ministry in Colombo reported that it also will be at least temporarily closing its embassy in Baghdad and its general consulate in Sydney. The decision to close its embassy in Norway comes several years after Norway played a key role in peace negotiations between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers.
The Tamil Tigers were brutally defeated in 2009, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was president. Today he’s prime minister and his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is president, but both suffered a blow earlier this month after massive demonstrations around the country: More than 40 Members of Parliament withdrew their support for the Rajapaksas’ party, SLPP, with the BBC reporting that the MPs will now be independent.
The demonstrations have come in response to the country’s worst economic crisis since Sri Lanka became independent in 1948. An inability to pay for imported fuel has resulted in power failures and a transport crisis, all coming on top of rising foreign debt and rising prices. The pandemic also badly hurt Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
The Sri Lankan government stressed that its decision to close its embassy in Oslo will have no effect on the country’s “good relations” with Norway. Consular services will now be handled through Sri Lanka’s embassy in Stockholm.