Sri Lanka has called for an early decision by
ASEAN to include Sri Lanka as an ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partner, in order to
strengthen engagement with ASEAN and its member countries. This follows the
submission to the ASEAN of Sri Lanka’s dossier for Sectoral Dialogue
Partnership in March 2019.
The Island Nation’s Foreign Secretary Ravinatha
Aryasinha made this request, when he addressed the ASEAN Day commemoration
event held at the Indonesian Embassy in Colombo last week. He conveyed
felicitations of the Government of Sri Lanka on the occasion.
The event hosted by the Indonesian Ambassador
Gusti Ngurah Ardiyasa, was attended by the Ambassadors / High Commissioners of
Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, as well as members of the Diplomatic
Corps, Government officials, the business community and well-wishers.
The Sri Lankan foreign secretary pointed out that
the significant importance Sri Lanka placed on relations with the ASEAN region
is evidenced by the fact that Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka had just returned
from the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Thailand, while the President is
currently on a State visit to Cambodia.
Lanka’s keenness to be associated with ASEAN evident before Independence
Tracing Sri Lanka’s historical events and
engagements with the ASEAN countries including through Buddhism, maritime
connections, economic activity, people to people contacts and other means since
the early times, Foreign Secretary Aryasinha said Sri Lanka’s keenness to be
integrally associated with the ASEAN region, has been evident even before
Sri Lanka’s aspiration to bring together selected
countries of the region through a regional mechanism was first articulated by
jointly adopting the Resolution for the establishment of an Asian Relations
Organization at the Asian Relations Conference in 1947 in New Delhi.
Subsequently, through the Colombo Powers Conference in 1954, a private members
bill moved by then Opposition Member J. R. Jayawardene in 1961, active interest
shown at the time ASEAN was formed in 1967 and subsequently on several
occasions, Sri Lanka had articulated this vision.
The Foreign Secretary said Sri Lanka’s as a Sectoral dialogue partner will provide the
necessary mechanism to "continue the historical legacy of partnership we
have had with your region and your people."
Sri Lanka looked forward to working with the
respective ASEAN countries to pursue Sri Lanka’s application with a view to
further strengthen and cement Sri Lanka’s solidarity and partnership with
of Thailand highlighted ASEAN’s vision
Ambassador Chulamanee Chartsuwan of Thailand as
the current Chair of ASEAN, addressing the gathering highlighted ASEAN’s vision
and emphasized key factors which govern ASEAN as a rule-based, people-centric
organization which is projected by some to become the world’s fourth largest
economic region by 2020.
Sri Lanka joined the ASEAN Regional Forum in
2007, preceded by the accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity in the same year.