Ambassador Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka said, “Korean investors and joint ventures can make use of Sri Lanka’s open investment climate, fast-developing infrastructure, strong economic fundamentals and ideal location along the Indian Ocean sea and air routes to access and service markets in South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe.”
Ambassador Gunasekera made the statement at a reception she hosted at the Millennium Seoul Hilton on Feb. 3, 2017 to celebrate the 69th anniversary of Independence of Sri Lanka and the 40th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Sri Lanka.
“It is in this context” she said, “that the western Region Megapolis Plan, a 40 Billion USD project to develop the greater Colombo urban region, has opened a new and important chapter in economic cooperation between our two countries.”
Then she stated that in May 2016 an MOU was signed in Seoul between Minister Kang Hoin and Sri Lanka’s Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka on collaboration between the two Ministries under the Megapolis Plan and that Sri Lanka looked forward to continuing this collaboration.
The reception was attended by many distinguished guests from Korean society and the international community, the Seoul Diplomatic Corps in particular.
Among them were Minister of Land, Infrastructure & Transport Kang Hoin, Minister of Disaster Management Anura Priyadarshana Yapa of Sri Lanka and Minister of Women & Child Affairs Chandrani Bandara also of Sri Lanka.
Attendance from the diplomatic community was also very large and included ambassadors and senior diplomats with their spouses. Among them were Ambassadors
Jorge Roballo of Argentina, Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Dimanche Long of Cambodia, Danus of Chile, Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo of Dominican Republic, Aingeal O’onoghue of Ireland, Khamsouay Keodalavong of Lao Republic, Thura Thet Oo Maung of Myanmar, Zahid Nasrulah Khan of Pakistan, Alexander Andreevich Tomonin of Russia, ValSarun Charoensuwan of Thailand, and Charles John Hay of United Kingdom
There also were many civic figures representing all walks of life, including the religious and media circles whence came Head Priest Ven. Park Seung-eok of the Cheonnam-sa Buddhist Temple and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post from the media.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Gunasekera:
I am delighted to welcome you this evening when Sri Lanka celebrates its 69th Anniversary of Independence which falls tomorrow, the 4th of February. This year is of particular significance as we also mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea on 14th November 2017.
I am deeply honoured by your gracious presence this evening, which is symbolic of the increasing importance of Sri Lanka – Korea relations.
I am also honoured to have among us this evening, three distinguished Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament from Sri Lanka, who I respectfully recognize on this occasion.
As we enjoy today’s celebrations, it is opportune to reflect briefly on the progress made by Sri Lanka in the past 69 years in building a democratic nation as well as a harmonious society.
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon when it gained independence in 1948, was considered a model Commonwealth nation. Yet since independence, Sri Lanka has had to confront formidable challenges as a young nation, including the conflict that ravaged the nation for nearly three decades. Yet today, over seven years since the end of the conflict, Sri Lanka stands proud among the community of nations as a country that has successfully defeated the forces of terror and consolidated peace. Today, our nation is engaged in a transparent process to bring durable peace and reconciliation to all people, of all ethnicities and religions.
Two years into office, the national unity Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has, as pledged, taken concrete measures to strengthen democratic institutions, uphold good governance and the rule of law and eradicate corruption, through constitutional, judicial and administrative reform. In order to achieve reconciliation, the Government has, among other measures, established the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms.
Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea enjoy longstanding friendly relations based on historical and Buddhist cultural links spanning 15 centuries or more.
The past year saw heightened interest in strengthening bilateral ties. The visits to Korea in 2016 by Sri Lanka’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs; Foreign Employment; Megapolis and Western Development; and Development Strategies and International Trade; paid special attention to enhancing political and economic cooperation.
As the two countries prepare to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations, the Sri Lanka Embassy in Seoul hopes to commemorate this important milestone with many promotional events this year.
Today, Sri Lanka is also making steady progress on the economic front, and is placed among the world’s middle income economies.
Korean investors and joint ventures can make use of Sri Lanka’s open investment climate, fast developing infrastructure, strong economic fundamentals and ideal location along the Indian Ocean sea and air routes to access and service markets in South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
It is in this context that the Western Region Megapolis Plan, a 40 Billion USD project to develop the greater Colombo urban region, has opened a new and important chapter in economic cooperation between our two countries. In May 2016, an MOU was signed in Seoul between Minister Kang Hoin and Sri Lanka’s Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka on collaboration between the two Ministries under the Megapolis Plan. Sri Lanka looks forward to continuing this collaboration.
Today Ceylon tea is synonymous with the world’s best, along with our blue sapphires and true cinnamon. In terms of tourism, Lonely Planet and Forbes magazine named Sri Lanka among the top 10 destinations to visit in 2015 / 2016.
Labour relations form an overarching aspect of our bilateral cooperation with approximately 25,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers engaged under the Employment Permit System (EPS) in Korea.
In conclusion, I would like to convey my Government’s sincere thanks and deep appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Korea led by His Excellency Hwang Kyo-ahn, the Actg. President and Prime Minister, for the continued friendship and cooperation extended towards Sri Lanka in all spheres. My Government looks forward to further strengthening Sri Lanka’s longstanding friendly relations with the Republic of Korea.
May I also take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to Mr. Shin Jung-Teak, Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consul in Busan; as well as RCK Enterprises, Spa Ceylon Korea, Jstar Solution, Indian Ocean Company, Kolon Global Corporation, SLIC Holdings, Skyline Sports and Millennium Seoul Hilton for their generous support in organizing today’s event.