Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Indonesia and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia organized a ceremonial opening and hybrid seminar to raise awareness on seven decades of friendly and mutually beneficial diplomatic relations between the two Asian countries, an LKI news release said.

The Seminar was hosted in the Auditorium of the LKI on August 10 and this event brought together many academics, practitioners, diplomats and other stakeholders who have contributed in cementing the strong ties between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, it said.The seminar was launched by Dr. Dayantha Laksiri Mendis, the LKI’s Executive Director who welcomed the distinguished participants and guests.

The main speakers were the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Her Excellency Retno L.P. Marsudi, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Hon. M.U.M. Ali Sabry. This was followed by statements by H.E Dewi Gustina Tobing, Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives of the Republic of Indonesia and Ms Aruni Wijewardane, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.After the opening session, an interactive panel discussion moderated by LKI Executive Director Mendis followed. The webinar focused on the multi dimensional relations between the two countries in a friendly manner.

The participants were H.E. Dewi Gustina Tobing, Ambassador of Indonesia to Sri Lanka, her counterpart, Her Excellency Yasoja Gunasekera , Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Indonesia , Prof. Kusnanto Anggoro, Executive Director of the Center for Geopolitical Risk Assessment of the University of Indonesia, Jakarta and Professor Chaminda Padmakumara, Head of the Department of International relations, University of Colombo.Prof. Kusnanto Anggoro has played an active role in reforming Indonesia’s security system, advising the Indonesian Government, communicating with the Indonesian parliament and civil society in this field.

This event was designed to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of formal diplomatic relations that were established on August 6, 1952. However there have been relations between the two countries in pre-colonial times, notably between the Sinhalese Kingdom and the Srivijaya Empire, both being Buddhist kingdoms. During the Dutch colonial period both countries were ruled by the Dutch East India Company. One significant result was the arrival in the island of Indonesians, whose descendants today are among the Sri Lankan Malay community.

Modern relations between the two Asian countries were strengthened by the fact that both countries played a major role as pioneers of the Non Aligned Movement. The birth of the Non Aligned Movement was the direct outcome of the Asian-African Solidarity Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in April 1955.

Since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the two countries have co-operated extensively, entering into important MOUs aimed at combating International terrorism, fostering diplomatic education and training, fighting the illicit trafficking of narcotics and other banned substances and co-operation in education, research and technology.

Sri Lanka and Indonesia have also worked together and supported each other in ratifying important treaties within the UN framework covering areas such as Human Rights, Humanitarian law, ILO conventions and conventions relating to environment, climate change, disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In addition both countries have been active participants and collaborated and indeed shaped policy in regional bodies including the Colombo Plan, Bali Democracy Forum, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the ASEAN Regional Forum.On the economic front several achievements have taken place. Currently four Indonesian companies have invested in Sri Lanka under the BOI Act and are engaged mainly in the apparel and tourism industries.

The Indonesian companies operating in Sri Lanka are Master Wovenlanka (pvt) Ltd, Bronto (Pvt) Ltd, Cooper Enterprises (private) Limited and Club Tex Mark (Pvt) Ltd.The objective of the seminar is therefore to serve as an opportunity to reflect on the strong bonds that have existed between Sri Lanka and Indonesia in both good and challenging times and examine ways in which stronger and more mutually beneficial relations can be forged in the future. (LKI news release)

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