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The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) in collaboration with the High Commission of Bangladesh in Sri Lanka and the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Bangladesh hosted a commemoration event to celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, on Friday, 04th March, 2022.
The Executive Director of LKI, Dr. Dayantha Laksiri Mendis, in his welcome address, reflected on the long-standing bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and explored ways in which this relationship could be further strengthened in order to ensure increased cooperation and engagement. H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, in her goodwill message noted that the last fifty years have provided a strong foundation for lasting bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, in his goodwill message highlighted that the relationship between the two nations has matured to be a mutually rewarding partnership and stated that this occasion provides an opportunity to reflect on innovative means to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two South Asian nations.
Hon. Tharaka Balasuriya, State Minister of Regional Cooperation, in his opening remarks underscored that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have excellent people to people ties and noted that there remains tremendous scope for further collaboration. He further emphasised the importance of regional associations such as SAARC, BIMSTEC and IORA as platforms through which regional and bilateral cooperation could be further deepened.
Amb. Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh joined this significant occasion virtually and noted that the two South Asian neighbours have maintained a high level of cooperation, bilaterally, regionally and in international fora. Adml. Prof. Jayanath Colombage, Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka, in his message, stated that membership of SAARC and BIMSTEC reflects the shared interests of the two countries and has opened avenues to foster engagement and further strengthen bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He further noted that Bangladesh remains an important trading and investment partner for Sri Lanka.
The opening session was followed by a panel discussion consisting of H.E. Tareq Md. Ariful Islam, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, H.E. Prof. Sudharshan Seneviratne, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh, Amb. Kazi Imtiaz Hossain, Chairman of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and Dr. Asanka Wijesinghe, Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).
H.E. Tareq Md. Ariful Islam noted that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have excellent relations and emphasised that trade is the most important element through which this relationship could be further deepened. He added that the second most potential area for cooperation is shipping connectivity. H.E. Prof. Sudharshan Seneviratne, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh recalled the manner in which Bangladesh and Sri Lanka progressed despite having had a chequered history emerging from colonial oppression, natural disasters and terrorism. He also discussed the way forward to fostering bilateral cooperation and emphasised that the two countries need to work together in order to fulfil this objective.
Amb. Kazi Imtiaz Hossain, Chairman of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) added that the relationship between the two countries is multi-faceted and is free from any kind of tension or conflict. He also emphasised that there is immense potential for increasing cooperation between the two countries through spheres such as agriculture and trade for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries. Dr. Asanka Wijesinghe, Research Fellow of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) discussed the similarities of the economic structures of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and explored the impact of establishing a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries.
The excellent views expressed by these learned High Commissioners and other speakers will be published by the LKI.
The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Dayantha Laksiri Mendis, Executive Director of LKI and the Director of the LKI, Mr. Chathuka Senanayake thanked the participants for ensuring a stimulating discussion on the history and the strong relationship existing between the two South Asian countries.