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Chaminda Colonne Chairs the 80th Commission Session of the UNESCAP in Bangkok

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 09-05-2024 |
Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Bangkok

Ambassador of Sri Lanka and Permanent Representative to UNESCAP, Chaminda Colonne Chairs the 80th Commission Session of the UNESCAP and launched “Cooperation with Impact – Launch of the Technical Cooperation Highlights 2022-2023”

Ambassador of Sri Lanka and Permanent Representative to UNESCAP, C. A. Chaminda I. Colonne, led the Sri Lanka Delegation to the 80th Commission Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, (UNESCAP) from 22 to 26 April 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand, under the theme “Leveraging digital innovation for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific” and elected as the Vice Chair of the Bureau for the 80th Commission.

Delivering the opening address, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana stated that intelligently deployed and properly governed digital solutions, based on a common understanding, shared approaches and collaborative governance, form the foundations for the collective push necessary for the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Delivering his special remarks and welcome address as host Government, Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin, highlighted the initiatives taken in promoting Thailand's digital transition to a digital economy and financial system, and the importance of preventing risks arising from digital transformation, such as cybercrime. He also stressed on the importance of international cooperation to ensure a safe, equitable, and beneficial digital transition to all people in the region.

when Ambassador Chaminda Colonne was chairing the 80th Commission session on “Review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific and issues pertinent to the subsidiary structure of the Commission” on 05 April 2024, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina delivered her special remarks and stated that Bangladesh has declared their next vision to become a ‘Smart’ Bangladesh by the year 2041 and suggested that more inclusive and connected Asia-Pacific region needs to be fostered by enhancing e-commerce and digital trade and accelerating IT enabled services.

More than 800 delegates from 61 member States, associate members and Observer countries as well as various stakeholder groups and international organizations attended the 80th Commission session. Prime Minister of Cambodia, Foreign Minister of Mongolia (Chair of the 80th Commission session), President of the Seventy-eighth General Assembly, Coordination Minister for Economic Affairs of Indonesia, Minister of Finance of Bangladesh, Vice Minister of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan, Minister for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change, and Communication of Tonga, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan were among the other dignitaries.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Technology Dharmasiri Kumarathunga, First Secretary/Deputy Permanent Representative to UNESCAP, A.W.S Samanmali, were other members of the Sri Lanka delegation, and Secretary Kumarathunga delivered the Sri Lanka’s country statement through a video message under the theme “Leveraging digital innovation for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific” and the Ambassador intervened in the High-level thematic roundtable on "Digital innovations for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals".

During the 80th Commission, Governments from across Asia and the Pacific adopted a resolution encouraging countries to work together closely to promote research, dialogue, technical cooperation and development of digital technologies and digital economy initiatives in an efficient, affordable, inclusive, secure and accessible manner, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and population groups. Three other resolutions were also adopted. Covering sustainable energy connectivity, strengthened support for countries in special situations to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and meet other global commitments, as well as on improving procedures.

During a side event, jointly organized on 24 April 2024 by the Sri Lanka Embassy and the UNESCAP the publication of “Cooperation with Impact - Launch of the Technical Cooperation Highlights 2022-2023” was launched by Ambassador Chaminda Colonne. During the launch Executive Secretary Alisjahbana stated that Sri Lanka is one of the key partners which promotes South-South and Triangular cooperation in the region and stated that its commitment to the course also emphasizes through Sri Lanka’s current Presidency of the high-level committee of South-South corporation of the annual Asia Pacific DG Forum. She assured of the continuous support of ESCAP to countries in the region including Sri Lanka for a sustainable and inclusive resilience future as approach by 2030. Director, Strategy and Programme Management Division of ESCAP Adnan H. Aliani, briefed on the publication.

During the panel discussion, of the launch, Deputy Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization, Ko Barrett, Mayor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Kanop Ketchart, Secretary General, Rehabilitation International, Teuta Rexhepi and Regional Investment Lead, Asia Global Green Growth Institute, Gulshan Vashistha, showcased selected success stories and results delivered in collaboration with a wide range of partners, featuring examples of technical cooperation projects implemented across the Asia-Pacific region, including ESCAP’s Macroeconomic modeling study and GGGI’s (Global Green Growth Institute) support for Sri Lanka to advance sustainable finance by developing the Green Bond Framework that guides investment and provides training, co-financing the Second Party Opinion for market credibility.

In her remarks during the launch, Ambassador Chaminda Colonne, stated that Sri Lanka became a Member of ESCAP in 1954 and expressed Sri Lanka’s sincere appreciation to ESCAP for the continuous support given for its’ development throughout this long journey, especially during the critical time Sri Lanka passed recently, in the areas of Voluntary National Reviews (VNR), sustainable financing, inclusive business, transport, trade, climate action and women’s economic empowerment. Sri Lanka is also a beneficiary of multiple multi-country activities implemented by ESCAP in 2022-2023. The side event was well attended by the Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives from delegates from member States, technical and development cooperation agencies, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, as well as the private sector.

Second Sri Lanka – UK Strategic Dialogue held in Colombo

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 09-05-2024 |

Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Colombo

The Second Sri Lanka - UK Strategic Dialogue was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 07 May 2024. The Sri Lanka delegation at the meeting was led by Director General / Europe and North America Shobini Gunasekera and the UK side by Director / India and Indian Ocean Directorate at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Ben Mellor. Discussions were also held with Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane.

During the discussions the delegations acknowledged the cordial ties over 75 years of diplomatic relations and the regular exchange of high level visits. The two delegations exchanged views on foreign and security policy priorities in the context of evolving dynamics in the global stage, and mutual commitment to multilateralism. Discussion also focused on ongoing economic cooperation. Views were also exchanged on ways to maximise trade under the concessional trade facility -the Developing Country Trading System (DCTS), including by expanding the export basket, with further assistance and collaboration from UK. Both sides acknowledged the growth observed in tourism between the two countries and the need for expanding Sri Lankan Airlines operations to the UK.

The two delegations also exchanged views on climate change and environmental policies and further collaborate in this area. Sri Lanka appreciated UK’s collaboration through the Ocean Country Partnership Programme, which aims to strengthen marine science expertise in the country. Sri Lanka briefed on the Offshore Wind Roadmap, and views were exchanged on potential collaboration in this area with the expertise of the UK.

Both delegations exchanged views on the need for facilitating legal migration channels, including in the healthcare sector. Views were also exchanged on expansion of maritime cooperation focusing on the early conclusion of an MOU on Cooperation between the Hydrographic Offices of the two countries. Opportunities for collaboration in education and Cooperation at international fora, particularly at the UN, Commonwealth and IORA were also discussed.

British High Commissioner Andrew Patrick and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several government agencies also participated. The next Dialogue will be held in 2025.

‘Around the World Embassy Tour’ in Washington D.C.

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 09-05-2024 |
Embassy of Sri Lanka | Washington D.C.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. opened its doors for American visitors as part of Passport DC’s ‘Around the World Embassy Tour’ from 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on 04 May 2024. The open house launched under a special event, “Passport DC” was organized by Events DC in partnership with over 55 foreign Missions based in Washington D.C. including the Embassy of Sri Lanka. It is a month-long festival in May that pays tribute to Washington D.C.'s thriving international diplomatic community and its lively and varied culture. As part of the festival, the first Saturday in May, the ‘International Cultural Awareness Month’ in Washington D.C. is devoted to Embassy open houses.

Under the advice and guidance of Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Embassy made arrangements to promote Sri Lanka as an exciting tourist destination. Over 5,037 US nationals, as officially verified by the organizers of the Passport DC, visited the Embassy during the event which was a record despite bad weather.

As a unique feature of the event, a photographic exhibition of over 80 colorful photographs titled “Beauty of Sri Lanka” depicting the ancient cultural heritage, natural beauty with a special emphasis on wild life and the people of Sri Lanka, was presented by the "America - Sri Lanka Photographic Art Society Los Angeles" and captured the attention of all attendees.

The visitors were treated to traditional Sri Lankan hospitality and they were able to sample authentic Sri Lankan cuisine having witnessed live cooking demonstrations of preparing of kottu roti and hoppers. They were also able to taste a variety of finger foods from Sri Lanka. This was provided with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau. The Embassy also offered all visitors a freshly brewed cup of hot or iced Ceylon tea sponsored by “Basilur (Sri Lanka)” and “QTrade Teas & Herbs (California, USA)”.

Traditional Sri Lankan dances and drums showcased the vibrant diversity of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage. The performances were at regular intervals by students from four local academies and was a key attraction that captivated guests throughout the day.

In line with the theme of “Passport DC 2024” which was Music diplomacy, the Embassy made special arrangements for the “Serendib” band led by Kutila Dias to entertain the crowd. He was joined by saxophonist D. I. Senarathne who performed live music at regular intervals.

Another highlight organized by the Embassy to mark the occasion was a photo opportunity for visitors to while clad in traditional Sri Lankan attire. Many American women queued up to drape themselves in Kandyan sarees, while the men tried on vivid batik sarongs and shirts. Sri Lankan traditional handicrafts, Ceylon spices and tea were on display, sponsored by Sri Lankan-American vendors.

An art exhibition “Sri Lanka, through Lens and Brush” was presented by two Sri Lankan-American hearing impaired artists Chetana Senadhira and Thushara T. Wijetilaka who shared their memories and experience of the beauty of Sri Lankan culture was another key feature.

The Embassy seized the opportunity to showcase the diverse tourist attractions of the country by exhibiting vibrant photographic sceneries as well as continually screening tourist-oriented videos. Two companies owned by Sri Lankan-Americans offered tourism packages joining the event, which caught the interest and attention of the visitors, thus promoting tourism to Sri Lanka.

To the delight of the visitors, the first 4,000 visitors were offered a complimentary pack of Ceylon tea by the Embassy that was generously sponsored by “Basilur (Sri Lanka)”. The objective was to promote ‘Ceylon tea’ among the visitors.

At the request of the Embassy, voluntary support was extended by the members of six Sri Lankan community based Associations in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. The Sri Lanka Association of Washington DC, Sri Lanka Ranga Kala Kavaya, Kala Lanka Foundation, Ape Kattiya/American Sri Lankan Friendship Foundation, Bethesda Api and Hospital Services Council of Greater Washington Area helped in the smooth running of the event.

Organized annually, Passport DC showcases Washington D.C.'s embassies and cultural organizations with a wide range of performances, discussions, and exhibits. It has become very popular among Americans in the Greater Washington area (Washington D.C., State of Maryland and Northern Virginia, and surrounding metropolitan area), as it gives them a rare opportunity to enjoy many aspects of foreign cultures and traditions in a single day.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka participated in the Passport DC festival last year as well by opening up its doors to American visitors and had 3,750 guests coming to the Embassy and enjoying the beauty of Sri Lanka.

India offers scholarships for Sri Lankan nationals

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 09-05-2024 |
High Commission of India Colombo is pleased to announce scholarships for Sri Lankan nationals under the AYUSH Scholarship Scheme for UG/PG/PhD courses in following manner for the academic year 2024-25.

Ayurveda, UG/PG/PhD, Unani, UG/PG/PhD, Homeopathy, UG/PG, Siddha, UG/PG, Yoga
B.Sc /BA(Yoga Shastra)/ Msc/PhD

Candidates who wish to apply for Undergraduate courses in Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy should have qualified in Physics, Chemistry and Biology in G.C.E. Advanced Level.

The candidates applying for B.Sc in Yoga and B.A (Yoga Shastra) should have qualified in any stream in G.C.E. Advanced Level and applying for MSc in Yoga must have a relevant Bachelor’s Degree.

The candidates seeking Postgraduate courses in Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy must have a relevant Bachelor’s Degree recognized by Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM). Those applying for PhD in Ayurveda, Unani and Yoga must have a relevant Bachelor’s Degree and MD Degree recognized by CCIM.

These scholarships cover full tuition fees and a monthly sustenance allowance for the entire duration of the course. The scholarship also covers accommodation allowance and an annual grant.

The last date for submitting online applications on ICCR A2A portal (www.a2ascholarships.iccr.gov.in) is 31 May 2024. For more information, the eligible candidates may contact Education Wing of the High Commission of India, Colombo on 011-2421605, 011-2422788/ 011-2422789) or email to eduwing.colombo@mea.gov.in.

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
Relations between India and Sri Lanka are uniquely fraternal. They are very special and unlike any other we have with other countries.

Our shared civilizational past, common heritage and strong cultural connect create a natural warmth and comfort in dealing with each other. For us, as close and proximate neighbours, cooperation is the only option. It is not driven by choice and opportunity alone. Our approach to Sri Lanka is guided by our neighbourhood-first policy and our SAGAR vision. This entails that we share with our closest neighbours all that we can based on their needs and aspirations. It also entails that our approach remains generous and non-reciprocal.

Our support in recent years to Sri Lanka, during the Covid pandemic and the economic crisis,were driven by our sense of responsibility and obligation for our closest friend and neighbour. We stood shoulder to shoulder with our civilizational twin, when it was needed most, and without any hesitation. Many of you will agree that India is and will remain Sri Lanka’s most reliable friend and a trusted and dependable partner.
Our bilateral cooperation is expanding and diversifying. It is buttressed by India’s growing national capabilities.

We now cooperate in wider range of areas including infrastructure and connectivity, deeper economic engagement, trade and investment, culture and education, tourism and people to people ties.
Like in other areas, we are cooperating closely on security and defence matters. Because of our geography, our security is interlinked and intertwined. And when we speak of security, we must remember that it has acquired a wider meaning than we have traditionally associated with it.

After the covid pandemic and impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict, it has come to include energy, health,food and even economic security. This is because technology now permeates all aspects of our lives, and looking at security through a narrow and segmented lens is no longer possible. Our response, therefore, must keep this wider definition in mind. We must also act accordingly to address security in its entirety keeping the complex inter-linkages in mind.

Friends,
In recent years, the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, which means self-reliant India, has led to significant capability development within the Indian defence industry. The Government of India has promoted this vision through enabling policies and frameworks, initiatives such as establishment of defence industry corridors, and supporting and handholding different stakeholders.We have also promoted collaborations between private and government owned enterprises.

We have invested in research and development and promoted the use of innovation and new age technologies to build capabilities that are future-ready.
Our efforts are showing rich dividends in the last one decade. The Indian defence industry today rolls out state-of-the-art systems, advanced technologies and world class equipment. To name a few, this ranges from fighter aircrafts and helicopters to naval vessels, from electronic warfare systems to cyber security solutions and from small arms to large caliber precision long range artillery systems.

Not only are we producing for our own national requirements, but we have been willing to make these capabilities available to our friendly partner countries like Sri Lanka. In fact, our defence exports today stand at nearly 2.6 billion US Dollars. This is a ten-fold increase over the past five years. We export defence hardware and software to more than 85 countries with more than 100 indigenous firms active in this field.
In this effort, we have relied upon our 16 defence public sector undertakings, which have been the backbone of our defence industrial complex, and supplemented their efforts with a growing private sector participation. Our Innovations for Defence Excellence or iDEX initiative also help us building capabilities in critical and strategic technologies to bridge the gap between the expectations and requirements of the modern Armed Forces by fostering a vibrant defence innovation ecosystem.
Today, India can offer high quality, low cost,and reliable technology in defence with an assured supply chain for long term maintenance support.

As in other sectors, our endeavour has been that our growing capabilities must also benefit our neighbours, including Sri Lanka. We are committed to supporting the needs and requirements of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.
I am therefore happy that the Seminar today will focus on our security and defence cooperation and help identify our shared priorities in this regard. That this Seminar is being held in Sri Lanka for the second time in the last two years underscores the value we attach to our defence partnership with Sri Lanka.

The large defence industry delegation from India further underlines our strong commitment to building industrial cooperation in the defence sector in Sri Lanka. We would also be showcasing the various advanced platforms and equipment to enable the Sri Lankan armed forces to familiarize themselves with various capabilities that have been developed indigenously in India. We are confident that these can also become viable, affordable and modern solutions for the Sri Lankan military.

I once again thank all of you for participating in this exercise. I wish the seminar and its participants all success. With your close cooperation, we are confident that we will see important and meaningful outcomes.

SRI LANKAN STUDENTS IN AUSTRALIA are BEE'S KNEES

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 04-04-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera

Sri Lankan students studying in Australia have been recognized as a premier category compared to other students from around the world according to Auslanka TV.

AusLanka TV is a digital television channel for Sri Lankans living in Australia, which broadcasts news, entertainment and life-style programs. It also allows for the talents of Sri Lankans living in Australia and contributes to community works. AusLanka TV is a weekend channel that broadcasts through modern digital media and is easily accessible to the public. It reaches out to the public through www.auslankatv.com, Facebook, YouTube, twitter, and Instagram.

Australia is the top choice of destination for Sri Lankan international students. It has plenty to offer from excellent education standards to beautiful beaches and quality cricket clubs. If you’re considering a move from Sri Lanka to Australia for your studies, here are 6 reasons why it’s such a popular – and smart – choice.

Australia is home to a number of globally ranked higher education institutions, including the University of Melbourne (#34), Monash University (#44), the University of Queensland (#53) and the University of Sydney (#54).

Australian universities offer a wide range of courses and programs of study that are globally recognized, and most courses are taught in English. Australia’s education system is known for its focus on innovation and research, its flexibility and its promotion of hands-on and practical learning.

Cultural diversity and a warm welcome
Australia is one of the world’s most culturally diverse countries, with its cities being particularly multicultural. For instance, Sydney is currently* ranked the third most diverse city in the world (with 45% of its residents foreign-born) and Melbourne is fifth (41% of residents are foreign-born).
Immigrants tend to be treated with acceptance and respect, and on the whole the country offers a very safe and welcoming environment for international students. Australia’s biggest universities are located in its larger cities, so there’s plenty of opportunity to study in a multicultural, cosmopolitan environment, where it’s easy to create a sense of home.

Quality of life
Australia is considered one of the best countries in the world for a good quality of life – sitting at #7* on the OECD Better Life Index.

The country is famous throughout the world for its laidback lifestyle, incredible nature and wildlife, and surfers’ paradise beaches. It’s a perfect choice of study destination if you like to explore, play outdoor sports, or just take in some natural beauty in your free time.

According to OECD, it also outperforms the average for education, health, jobs, income, social connections, and life satisfaction.

Work opportunities
If you need to work to support yourself while studying, Australia is a great choice. During holiday periods, you’re free to work as many hours as you wish, and in term times you can work up to 40 hours a fortnight.

As an international student, you will have the same workplace protections as everyone else working in the country and you’ll receive at least minimum wage, whichever job you’re doing.
Throughout most of the country, you’re likely to find plenty of job opportunities in retail, hospitality, administration, cleaning and care services. In certain areas, you will also find seasonal work in fruit picking and farming.

You are also likely to be eligible to apply for a 2-4 year working visa once you’ve completed a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, via the Post-Study Work Stream of the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485). You can find more information about this and other pathways to a working visa, plus information on your possible path to citizenship in Australia, on the Australian Home Affairs website. To learn even more read also this blog on how international students can benefit from Australia’s workforce gaps.

English language immersion
Having strong English language skills can open many doorways, both for continued study and professionally. English is Australia’s majority language and most courses of study are taught in English. So, studying here will give you the chance to immerse yourself in the language and massively improve your skills. There’s no better way to become fluent in a language than to surround yourself with native speakers.

And cricket!
Being from Sri Lanka doesn’t guarantee you must love cricket – but there’s certainly a fair chance you do. If you’re a big cricket fan, then you’ll love living in Australia, where it’s the national game.

If you love watching the sport, you’ll find plenty of pubs and bars that play it and plenty of friends to watch it with. If you’re a player, with nearly 4,000 cricket clubs across the country, you’re bound to find somewhere nearby to get involved with the sport.

Transferring Money Between Australia and Sri Lanka
If you’re studying and working in Australia, you may want to regularly send money back home. Or perhaps your parents would like to be able to contribute towards your studies? Whatever the reason, if you want to transfer money internationally, it’s easy, convenient and reliable with Western Union.

Katchatheevu, the tiny island that has sparked India-Sri Lanka controversy

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |
A political dispute has erupted in India, revolving around a small, uninhabited island belonging to Sri Lanka. This island is Katchatheevu, measuring just about 1.9 sq km (0.7 sq miles), and sits in the Palk Strait, separating India and Sri Lanka. Located northeast of India's Rameswaram town in Tamil Nadu state and southwest of Sri Lanka's Jaffna city, it lacks a source of drinking water and features only a solitary church, hosting an annual three-day festival attracting devotees from both countries.

Since 1921, both British colonies, India and Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), laid claim to fishing rights in the waters surrounding Katchatheevu. However, India settled the dispute in 1974 by relinquishing its claim to the island. A subsequent agreement between India and Sri Lanka prohibited citizens of both countries from fishing in each other's waters.

The issue has resurfaced following accusations from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the opposition Congress party for ‘callously’ ceding the island to Sri Lanka. Modi's remarks stem from recent revelations by a leader of his Bharatiya Janata Party regarding government discussions about Katchatheevu in the 1960s.

Opposition leaders allege that Modi's party is exploiting the Katchatheevu issue, sensitive in Tamil Nadu, to garner votes in the upcoming general elections.

Documents unearthed by K Annamalai, chief of the BJP in Tamil Nadu, highlight debates within the Indian government regarding Katchatheevu in the 1960s. While some officials advocated for India's claim based on historical sovereignty, India eventually conceded the island to Sri Lanka.

Despite ongoing legal battles challenging the agreement, India's foreign minister, S Jaishankar, admitted that the issue had been concealed from public scrutiny for too long. However, he clarified that the matter was sub judice when asked about revisiting the 1974 agreement.
In 2013, the Indian Government informed the Supreme Court that Katchatheevu could not be ‘retrieved’ from Sri Lanka since it was never demarcated and remained disputed territory. Former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi echoed this sentiment, stating that India would have to engage in warfare to reclaim Katchatheevu.

Nevertheless, BJP's Annamalai asserts that the central government aims to reclaim Katchatheevu to safeguard the interests of Tamil Nadu's fishermen. The Sri Lankan Government, however, maintains that Katchatheevu falls under its jurisdiction and awaits official communication from India regarding control over the island.