Published on: November 10, 2023

President emphasizes Sri Lanka’s commitment to strengthening International Economic Relations

In a keynote address at the Annual Graduation ceremony of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo today (10), President Ranil Wickremesinghe outlined Sri Lanka’s strategic focus on expanding economic cooperation with key international partners.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted the country’s intent to foster economic collaboration with India and member nations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP), along with efforts to enhance ties with the European Union (EU). He underscored the historical significance of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy, citing the era from the late Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake to Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike as a golden period.

At the ceremony, a total of 390 students who successfully completed their studies across various academic levels, including international relations certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas, and post-graduate courses, were conferred with certificates. Additionally, commendable students who demonstrated outstanding academic performance during the years 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 were honoured with both certificates and gifts. The awards ceremony was conducted at the aforementioned venue, marking a significant recognition of academic achievements within this period.

Special honours were bestowed upon the late Jayantha Dhanapala and Mr. H. M. G. S. Palihakkara, prestigious diplomats by the President. In a touching moment, Mr. Sivanka Dhanapala, the son of the late Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, received the award on behalf of his father.

The President addressed the challenges posed by the post-COVID 19 era, including the debt crisis, delays in achieving sustainable development goals (SGDs) and climate change issues. He acknowledged the complexities arising from the U.S.-China rivalry and its impact on global geopolitics, characterizing the current state as a ” geopolitics of the global poly-crisis.”

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that Sri Lanka is in the same line along with the ASEAN outlook for Indo-Pacific region and stressed the unique identities of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. He noted China’s preference for the Asia-Pacific concept and the Belt and Road Initiative has established a connection between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. In light of these developments, President Wickremesinghe underscored the crucial importance of preserving the Indian Ocean as a region free from great power rivalry. This emphasis reflects Sri Lanka’s commitment to maintaining the Indian Ocean as a zone of cooperation and stability, irrespective of broader geopolitical dynamics.

The President expressed Sri Lanka’s support for debt relief for low-income countries in African region and proposed a focus on the tropical belt for climate change mitigation. He called for global cooperation on these matters and emphasized the significance of maintaining the global trade system.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored the vital importance of maintaining the global trade system. He emphasized the need for consensus among nations before implementing significant changes, highlighting the necessity for collaborative decision-making.

Expressing concern over the on-going conflict in the Gaza Strip, the President stated that resolving the situation cannot be achieved by targeting the leadership of the Hamas organization alone. He advocated for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further escalation, emphasizing the urgency of diplomatic efforts to address the complex issues surrounding the conflict.

The President also expressed optimism regarding a positive outcome in resolving the current global situation. He anticipates progress to be made during the upcoming meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in San Francisco. The expectation is that this high-level diplomatic engagement will contribute to addressing key international concerns and fostering constructive dialogue between the United States and China. The President concluded by emphasizing the need for collective efforts to overcome global complexities.

The event was graced by the presence of notable dignitaries, including Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya, Members of Parliament Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Dr. Harsha de Silva, and Eran Wickramaratne were in attendance. The distinguished gathering also included Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aruni Wijewardene, New Zealand High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Michael Appleton, French Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jean-François Pactet, and Japanese Deputy Ambassador Katsuki Kataro, among other esteemed foreign diplomats and former ambassadors.

Furthermore, the event was attended by Professor Gamini Keeravella, the Executive Director of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies, members of the Management Council of the centre and academic staff. Their presence added to the significance of the occasion, reflecting a collective commitment to scholarly engagement and diplomatic discourse.


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