Addressing a special BIMSTEC public event held on 20 – 21 November 2020 in Bangkok, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Thailand Samantha K. Jayasuriya said that Sri Lanka believes and promotes safety and security in navigation and peaceful and sustainable harnessing of Ocean resources as per the internationally agreed instruments, and considers it as an important priority for all of us in the Bay of Bengal or BIMSTEC Region.
Speaking further on the theme of the special event, “The Bay of Bengal: An Aspiration for Sustainability”- My country’s vision on BIMSTEC”, the Ambassador said it is “our aspiration that the region should be free of all traditional and non-traditional security threats, as sustainable blue-economy is the future of our region”, and in this regard “collective efforts in strengthening mutual legal cooperation, sharing security related information and intelligence, enhancing maritime connectivity plays an important role”.
For Sri Lanka, these are not limited to aspirations, but are already being set well within the National Policy Framework of the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in securing a prosperous and peaceful Sri Lanka, and beyond, including the Bay of Bengal region”, the Ambassador said.
The two-day public event on the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was organized by the Institute of Asian Studies of Chulalongkorn University and BIMSTEC Network of Policy Think Tanks in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, aimed at sharing knowledge and creating better understanding among the Thai public on the diverse and rich traditions, cultures and way of life, that keep the seven countries around the Bay of Bengal together as an important regional group.
Sri Lanka as the current Chair of the BIMSTEC, during its tenure has undertaken to strengthen the institutional structure and its foundation which includes finalizing the BIMSTEC Charter, and the rationalization of sectoral and sub-sectoral partnerships, and the Ambassador stated that this allocation of defined areas among the member States will enhance the focus of the future activities of BIMSTEC. “As the lead country for Science, Technology and Innovation with sub sectors Technology, Health and Human Resource Development, during this COVID 19 health pandemic that has impacted every aspect of normal life including the economies of member States, Sri Lanka is looking forward to present its proposals on innovative use of technologies, as well as setting up and operationalization of the BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Sri Lanka”, Ambassador Jayasuriya said.
She further stated that the seven BIMSTEC countries around the world’s largest Bay- the Bay of Bengal cherish a shared histories and cultures, ranging from a rice-based culture to vibrant civilization, yet they maintain unique identities as sovereign Nation States, and this diversity and uniqueness in each of the seven member States is the strength of BIMSTEC.
The Ambassador said that the event calls for more celebration as on 20 November 2020, Sri Lanka and Thailand celebrates 65 years of establishing diplomatic relations. She also added that Sri Lanka is confident that great headway could be achieved in the next lap of BIMSTEC under the able leadership of Thailand, when the leadership of the organization is handed over to Thailand by Sri Lanka early next year.
The Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives of all seven BIMSTEC nations attended this event, and shared the views of the respective countries on BIMSTEC. Head of Chancery Poornima Gunasekera coordinated Sri Lanka’s participation and the staff of the Embassy joined at the special Sri Lanka booth in promoting Sri Lanka tourism, cuisine including Ceylon tea and spices, which was well received by the Thai public.