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Diplomats from 23 countries attend Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy and Economic Diplomacy Dialogue

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The Sri Lanka Foreign Policy and Economic Diplomacy Dialogue, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commenced on Monday ( 15 October) with the participation of mid-career diplomats from 23 countries from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Australasia.

The two week long programme is held as part of the Economic Diplomacy Programme (EDP) of the Foreign Ministry and will primarily focus on Sri Lanka’s Economy with special emphasis on its emergence as a ‘Hub of the Indian Ocean’ and as a trade, investment, and tourist destination, while showcasing Sri Lanka’s international brands, entrepreneurship, as well as important strides in research and innovation. It will also explore Sri Lanka’s rich history and culture, aspects of foreign policy including positions on international politics, and thematic issues - good governance, sustainable development, and right to information, social media and cyber security. Sri Lanka’s key government officials, academics, scientists, and business leaders will participate in the discussions, and a 3- day field visit will follow.

Read more: Diplomats from 23 countries attend Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy and Economic Diplomacy Dialogue

 

Sri Lanka successfully launches a platform to define the future of the Indian Ocean

Representatives of 40 countries were in Sri Lanka from 11-12 October 2018 to discuss the future of the Indian Ocean. “The Indian Ocean: Defining Our Future” , Track 1.5 dialogue  brought together senior representatives from the Indian Ocean littoral states and major maritime users to Colombo on an initiative by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to increase focus on an Ocean that has the potential to become a growth pole in the world economy in the future. Representatives included, among others, key senior officials from India, South Africa, USA, China, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan together with key think tank representatives from the region and beyond. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean Ambassador Peter Thomson was also in Colombo for the Conference. President Maithripala Sirisena graced the occasion with his presence.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, delivering the keynote address of the Conference highlighted the need to maintain Freedom of Navigation and Freedom of Digital Connectivity for the region to grow and prosper and the need for a shared understanding in order to maintain peace and security.

This Conference provided an inclusive space for discussion and consensus building for littorals and users of the Indian Ocean. It explored four particular areas including the Indian Ocean’s future as the new global growth pole, safety and security at sea, sustainable and low-pollution development, and stability of the Indian Ocean within a rules-based approach.

Read more: Sri Lanka successfully launches a platform to define the future of the Indian Ocean

 

Launch of the Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) e-Module

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An online training module, designed to enhance capacities of officials attached to Sri Lanka Missions abroad on combating human trafficking, was launched on 9 October 2018 at the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI) in Colombo.  The module, prepared by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be a part of the BIDTI's Electronic Learning Space. The Government of Australia has supported the initiative with financial assistance.

Launching the online training module, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Prasad Kariyawasam noted that human trafficking “is a scar on our sense of common humanity and is an injustice to human beings.” He further said that “human trafficking endangers people’s health; and is linked to organized crime and many criminal activities” adding that the first steps in stopping trafficking lies in the ability of being able to spot trafficking and incidents of trafficking. In this regard, this training module has been designed to assist officers stationed at Sri Lanka Missions overseas to be properly equipped to identify, assist and protect victims of human trafficking.It is our hope that this training will help them acquire the basic skills to respond effectively and with sensitivity when they encounter potential victims of trafficking,” the Secretary added. He also stressed the importance of building partnerships in combating trafficking.

Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Prison Reforms W.M.M.R. Adikari,  in her capacity as the Chair of the National Task Force (NTF) against Human Trafficking, reiterated the necessity to strengthen the coordination between key government agencies in combating trafficking in persons. The NTF, since its establishment in 2010, has been an effective inter-agency mechanism through which Sri Lankan government institutions share information, intelligence and best practices in addressing the crime of human trafficking, both within the borders of Sri Lanka and beyond.

In this e-learning platform, a total of seven modules have been developed to provide officers with a basic understanding of the crime of human trafficking including, and how it differs from, smuggling. The modules also explain the related legal framework, relevant international processes and Conventions, how to effectively identify and interview potential victims, refer cases for assistance, protection and ensure victims’ safe return, and further elaborates on the role and responsibilities of consular and diplomatic staff in this regard.

The High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka Bryce Hutchesson, addressing the event appreciated Sri Lanka’s cooperation in combating trafficking in persons, and highlighted Sri Lanka’s consistently strong role as a member of the Bali Process against human trafficking. The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime offers a regional platform for Asia-Pacific countries for policy dialogue, information sharing and practical cooperation. Australia is also a key bilateral partner of Sri Lanka in developing capacities of several government institutions, including the Ministry of Justice, Department of Immigration and Emigration, and the Sri Lanka Navy, on addressing the issues of human trafficking and people smuggling.

Chief of Mission of the IOM in Sri Lanka Guiseppe Crocetti noted that the content of the module is based on a counter trafficking training manual and forms part of IOM Sri Lanka’s “Combating Trafficking in Persons through a Public Information Campaign” project.

Director General of the BIDTI Ambassador Pamela Deen said that the BIDTI, as the Training Arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to host this important module in its Electronic Learning Space.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken a proactive role in addressing the issue of human trafficking in recent years and due to the combined efforts of relevant government institutions, Sri Lanka has succeeded in retaining its Tier 2 ranking in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report in 2018, for the second consecutive year.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

10 October 2018

 

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"Indian Ocean: Defining our Future" Conference to be held in Colombo on 11-12 October 2018

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The "Indian Ocean: Defining our Future" Conference, which aims to create a platform for Indian Ocean littoral states and major maritime users to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern, will be held in Colombo on 11-12 October 2018.

This Conference is held at a time when the Indian Ocean has emerged as one of the world’s busiest and most critical trade corridors, carrying two thirds of global oil shipments and a third of bulk cargo and hosting the most critical Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs), directly impacting global trade and economy.

The "Indian Ocean: Defining Our Future" Conference will explore the region’s strongest challenges and opportunities in a 2-day symposium featuring international dignitaries and experts from the littoral states and beyond. Sri Lanka’s geographical location in the Indian Ocean and its long history of peaceful engagement with the international community makes it an ideal convenor of such an international Conference.

The Conference, scheduled to be held at Temple Trees, is an initiative of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena.

The inaugural address of the Conference will be delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will deliver the keynote address. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson will also address the inaugural session.

The Inaugural Panel titled “Navigating Challenges and Prospects in the Indian Ocean: Towards a Shared Understanding” will include key policy makers such as Indian Deputy National Security Advisor Pankaj Saran, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US State Department Alice G. Wells, and Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China Yi Xianliang, and Deputy Director General at Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa, and Chair of the Committee of Senior Officials of IORA, Dr Anil Sooklal.

The speakers and participants will focus their discussions on four thematic areas, namely:  The Indian Ocean Economy: The New Global Growth PoleLife below Water: Reframing the Oceans as Development Spaces; An End to Uncertainty: Safety and Security at Sea; and Reinforcing International Law in the Indian Ocean:  United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Emerging Issues.

The Conference is expected to lead to a multilateral  diplomatic Conference to be held early next year in Sri Lanka building on the work of this Conference and move towards an understanding among littoral states and major maritime users that would contribute towards greater peace, security and prosperity in the Indian Ocean.

It is envisioned that events of this nature would further augment the government's policy towards transforming Sri Lanka into a regional trading, logistics and financial hub.

The Conference, which is a Track 1.5 exercise that includes policy makers and senior government officials along with academia, is organised by the  Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in collaboration with the Global Maritime Crime Programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

05 October 2018

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

 

State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake visits Portugal

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake paid an official visit to Portugal from 18 – 20 September 2018.

State Minister Senanayake met with Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal Teresa Ribeiro. During the discussions, the State Minister highlighted the longstanding historical ties between Sri Lanka and Portugal, with special focus on centuries-old shared history and heritage, exchange of knowledge, visitors and trading companies.

State Minister Senanayake recalled the influence of Portuguese culture in Sri Lanka, especially the grandeur of Portuguese architecture in some of the coastal areas and the remnants of Portuguese intangible cultural heritage in language, music, dance, clothing, and cuisine.

It was observed that shared ties between Sri Lanka and Portugal would be a catalyst to attract Portuguese tourists to Sri Lanka. Both sides agreed to explore the potential for joint investment and partnership in the tourism sector. State Minister Senanayake  proposed that Portuguese authorities may consider  renovating the Fort of Mannar which was originally built by the Portuguese in 1560. He suggested that the Fort of Mannar be renovated like the Dutch Fort in Galle, improving and preserving its monuments.

The State Minister and the Portuguese Secretary of State also focused on sharing expertise in using renewable energy sources such as hydropower, wind and solar power.

On inquiry by the Portuguese side about Sri Lanka’s journey towards achieving reconciliation, the State Minister acknowledged the support extended by the European Union in this regard, and emphasized on the need for continuous support.

During the visit, State Minister Senanayake also met with the Minister of Culture of Portugal Luis Filipe de Castro Mendes, the Chairman of the Museu do Oriente (Museum of the Orient), and the Head of Instituto Camões, an institution established in 1992 for the worldwide promotion of the Portuguese language and culture.

Third Secretary of the Sri Lanka Mission in Paris Damith Hewawickrama accompanied the State Minister during the visit.

 

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Paris

26 September 2018

 

Address by H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly 25 September 2018, New York

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May the Noble Triple Gem bless all of you !

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Distinguished Heads of State,

Distinguished Delegates,

Friends,

I am extremely pleased to participate in the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly representing Sri Lanka for the fourth consecutive occasion.  Sri Lanka, as a Member State of the United Nations, is fully committed to adhere to its Charter, Conventions and Agreements and their implementation.

As Head of State, I am pleased to note the progress that has been made by Sri Lanka and my government during the past three-and-a-half years. When I was elected by the people of Sri Lanka as Head of State in January 2015, the Executive Office that I hold today, had excessive powers, which were comparable to those of a king, or even an emperor.  I am pleased to state that I was able to relinquish these emperor-like excessive powers and transfer them to the Parliament of Sri Lanka, fulfilling the utmost duty of an elected leader.

During the past three-and-a-half years, democracy has been strengthened in my country.  In addition, human rights, freedom of the people and the media as well as the independence of the judiciary have been strengthened. Therefore, the Sri Lanka of today is not what it used to be three-and-a-half years ago. I can clearly state that the Sri Lanka of today is a society which is more inclusive and humane.

We, as Member States of the United Nations, must consider it as our duty and responsibility to comprehensively study and reflect upon the contemporary political developments, economic disparities, and common challenges faced by humanity.When speaking of international political developments and trends, we must in particular focus our attention on refugees that have become a global issue as there are a large number of refugees all over the world. Therefore, I believe that the efforts of the United Nations, its Member States and other organizations dealing with the issues related to refugees must be broader and more effective.

Sri Lanka is a country that follows moderate policies with regard to the exercise of its foreign policy. We are a senior member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The 1976 Non-Aligned Summit, which is considered one of the most successful, was held in Sri Lanka. Within the framework of non-alignment, we consider all nations of the world as friends. I am glad to note that Sri Lanka does not have adversaries in the contemporary world.

When discussing international political issues, we must especially mention the issue of the Palestinian people. I believe that the United Nations and the world powers should approach this issue with greater understanding and attention. Successive governments in Sri Lanka have supported the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people. I believe that the United Nations and all Member States should adopt a more humane approach when advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people, and taking into account the inhumane conditions they face, approach this issue in a broader manner.

We all know that poverty is one of the fundamental problems affecting the world. I am of the view that the United Nations can do more to address the issue of poverty. We know that today, hundreds of millions of people across the world suffer from hunger. Climate change, income disparities, and certain shortcomings of governments to fulfill obligations towards their citizens, are among the key causes of poverty. The negative effects of climate change on economies have further exacerbated this problem. Therefore, it is essential to assist and support countries which are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. I must mention that just as poverty plays a central role in many problems that plague the world, trafficking in weapons, illicit drugs and narcotics have also become grave threats to humanity.

In this context, I am pleased about the agreement reached under the auspices of the United Nations and the leadership of the US President Donald Trump on a ‘Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem’, yesterday. It is necessary that all countries do more towards combating illicit drugs with the assistance of the United Nations, as a matter of priority.

Within the framework of action of the United Nations, we must all work at national and international levels towards the implementation of the agreed outcomes of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, finalized under the guidance of the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for the benefit of humanity as well as other living beings, our streams and rivers, and planet Earth as a whole. I must state that Sri Lanka, as a UN Member State, gives utmost priority to these endeavours.

Speaking of internal matters of my beloved motherland, as I stated earlier, we have broadly strengthened democracy, human rights, fundamental rights and media freedom in the country. We must reflect on the situation of our country that prevailed forty years ago, and on the conflict that lasted for nearly thirty-years. It has been almost ten years since terrorism and armed conflict ended. During these ten years we have undertaken a broad range of reforms.  My government in particular, has implemented several important steps in the post-conflict context. We have implemented, and continue to implement many programmes aimed at fostering national harmony and reconciliation, and ensuring non-recurrence of conflict. As a country that has fulfilled and continues to fulfill our human rights obligations, we respectfully request the United Nations and all other countries to continue to assist us in our endeavours.

Sri Lanka's security forces defeated one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world. As a result, Sri Lanka remains an undivided country that enjoys sustainable peace. Therefore, I must respectfully recall the yeoman service rendered by our security forces in defeating a dreaded terrorist organization, and I take this opportunity to thank our security forces for their great sacrifices in ushering peace and ensuring territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. At a time when almost ten years have passed since the end of the conflict, I call upon the international community to look at my country from a new perspective with new ideas. I call on you all to refresh your views on my noble motherland and assist us in our efforts towards achieving economic development, prosperity, and a secure future as a country at peace following a deadly conflict; as a country that is strengthening national reconciliation; as a country where national harmony prevails; as a country that has taken and continues to take every possible step to prevent recurrence of another conflict; and as a country that protects and upholds human rights.

I respectfully request you to allow us the opportunity to resolve our own issues. The independence of a country is of paramount importance. I seek your support in our efforts, including in strengthening democracy and enhancing human development, while respecting our sovereignty. The sacrifices we have made and the initiatives we have taken in this regard are important for us in resolving our issues. As an independent country, we do not require foreign interference or threats. As a strong nation, we request all of you to allow us space to resolve our problems and to progress as an independent country. In this context, once again I wish to reiterate our request for your assistance and support for us to resolve our own issues as Sri Lankans. I further request your support in the efforts of my government to alleviate fear and suspicion among the communities living in our beloved motherland, and to build greater harmony.

As I stated before, it is imperative to accord priority to address the issues of people in Sri Lanka and the world over who are poverty-stricken. We must find solutions to their problems, taking into consideration the ideas and thoughts of the younger generation.

Considering all of the above, I wish to finally reflect on what Lord Buddha stated in the Salla Sutta of the Samyuktha Nikaya in the Thripitaka where it is said that a man pierced by a dart suffers twice: firstly, the physical pain caused by the dart, and secondly the mental agony caused in recollecting the act. Similarly, the people of Sri Lanka have suffered both the physical pain of the prolonged conflict as well as the mental agony caused by the recollection of those unfortunate experiences. Therefore, it is no one else but the people of Sri Lanka who need to be relieved of this pain. In conclusion, I respectfully request all to extend support to my people and country to progress towards a  just, fair, equitable and humane society with economic prosperity, alleviating the pain that my people have endured.

Thank you. May the Noble Triple Gem bless you.

   

State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake represents Sri Lanka at the Bled Strategic Forum -2018 in Slovenia

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake visited Slovenia at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Karl Erjavec to attend the 13th Bled Strategic Forum, which was held on 10-11 September 2018. The theme of this year’s Forum was “Bridging the Divide”.

State Minister Senanayake was a panellist at the panel discussion on “Alone we fail: Working together for a sustainable future”. The panel consisted of high level speakers drawn from different countries representing governments, academia, civil society and the corporate sector.

Read more: State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake represents Sri Lanka at the Bled Strategic Forum -2018 in Slovenia

   

State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake Visits Ethiopia

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake undertook an official visit to Ethiopia from 13 to 17 September 2018.  Sri Lanka established formal diplomatic relations with Ethiopia in 1972, and the Sri Lankan resident Embassy in Addis Ababa was officially opened in February 2017, jointly by the Foreign Ministers of Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.

In honour of State Minister Senanayake, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Hirut Zemene hosted a breakfast meeting attended by senior officials of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The discussion centered on further consolidating bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and  Ethiopia and diversifying the areas of cooperation.  Exchange of business delegations between the two countries was also discussed and State Minister Senanayake extended an invitation to his Ethiopian counterpart  to lead a trade delegation to Sri Lanka.

State Minister Senanayake also  paid a courtesy call on Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome.

During the visit, State Minister Senanayake also visited the Headquarters of the African Union Commission and had a meeting with Dr. Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security and the Acting Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The discussion focused on promoting  relations between the African and Asian continents.  Sri Lanka obtained accreditation status of the African Union in April 2014 as a Non-African State and Sri Lanka’s first resident Ambassador in Addis Ababa presented his credentials to the African Union Commission in December 2016 as Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka.

Further, the State Minister had meetings with senior officials of the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, and exchanged information on trade and investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka and Ethiopia for promoting bilateral economic relations. State Minister Senanayake also visited the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa.

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission Sumith Dassanayake accompanied the State Minister to the meetings.

 

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Addis Ababa

 

18 September 2018

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

   

Minister Sagala Ratnayaka Undertakes Official Visit to the United States

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Minister of Youth Affairs, Project Management & Southern Development and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Sagala Ratnayaka undertook an official visit to Washington D.C. from September 12-13.

During the visit Minister Ratnayaka met with Chairman Mac Thornberry of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and Chairman Ted Yoho of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. The Minister also met with senior interlocutors of the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Department of Defence, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Minister Sagala Ratnayaka briefed them on current developments in Sri Lanka. They discussed the ongoing Sri Lanka–U.S. partnership and opportunities for further expanding bilateral cooperation within the framework of President Donald Trump’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. In this context, he welcomed the recent announcement by the U.S. of approximately $39 million in Foreign Military Financing for Sri Lanka, pending congressional approval.

Minister Ratnayaka also expressed Sri Lanka’s deep appreciation to the U.S. for the transfer of the high-endurance ex-U.S. Coast Guard cutter to the Sri Lanka Navy in August. The cutter will be the largest ship in the Sri Lankan naval fleet and will strengthen bilateral defence cooperation and enhance the capacity and the operational capability of the Sri Lankan Navy to more effectively secure the country’s maritime interests.

Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Sri Lanka Priyanga Wickramasinghe and senior officials of the Embassy were associated with Minister Ratnayaka in the bilateral discussions.

Later, Minister Ratnayaka visited California where he attended the 2018 International Democrat Union (IDU) Meeting from September 16-18 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is the Chairman of the Asia Pacific Democrat Union is an IDU Vice Chairman (ex-officio) since 2005.

 

Embassy of Sri Lanka

 

Washington D.C.

 

September 18, 2018

 

   

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