The United Nations in New York belatedly commemorated the International Day of Vesak virtually on 2nd July 2020. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented Member States from gathering at the UN General Assembly Hall to celebrate this occasion, as in previous years. Rescheduling to July was also not without significance, as it was on the full moon day of this month that the Buddha preached his first Dhamma sermon.
The event, organized by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Thailand, featured a keynote message from Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka. Highlighting the value of Buddhism during this time of unprecedented global insecurity created by the pandemic, the Minister stated that the Buddha’s teachings could be a guide through this haze of uncertainty, towards light. He upheld that the practice of the four virtues of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity could ease the sufferings of mankind and generate trust and understanding. Minister Gunawardena outlined that the Dhamma is not only a religion but also a philosophy on the way of life, symbolized by a Path of Knowledge with its’ goal being the destruction of ignorance, characterized, among others, by the futility of the egoistic notion.
Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Relations, delivering a message during the virtual belated commemoration of the Day of Vesak at the UN
Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has observed that despite its immediate gloom, the present situation has been an eye opener in many respects that could help correct structural, procedural and human interface incongruities in Sri Lanka’s labour migration. It also presents an opportunity for Sri Lanka to re-orient foreign employment in a post-Covid-19 world, sensitive to the ground realities in both Sri Lanka and the migrant labour receiving countries, so that the future footprint of Foreign Employment Sri Lanka will provide the world – though probably Smaller, could be Smarter and more Sustainable.
The Foreign Secretary made these observations when he addressed the 33rd Annual Session of the Organization of Professional Associations (OPA) via a video link, on the theme “The Role of Foreign Employment in the Economic Revival of Sri Lanka; Challenges and Opportunities”.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated this year’s Annual OPA Session held on 27-28 June 2020 as a Digital Conference, on the theme ‘Bounce Back–Disasters and Opportunities”.
Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo engaged in discussions on matters of bilateral interest in a telephone conversation on 29 June evening.
US-Sri Lanka cooperation in COVID response-supply of PPEs to the US, donation of ventilators to Sri Lanka and COVID related bilateral assistance amounting to US$ 5.8 million- economic recovery initiatives, defence and security matters, counter terrorism and international economic cooperation featured in the discussions.
Minister Gunawardena briefed his US counterpart on the Review Report of the MCC, the forthcoming Parliamentary elections and thanked the US for the support extended to the reconciliation and resettlement processes in Sri Lanka.
He conveyed Sri Lanka’s felicitations for the forthcoming US Independence Day on 4th of July.
Ministry of Foreign Relations
30 June 2020
The Permanent Missions of Thailand and Sri Lanka to the United Nations
are pleased to invite you to the
Belated Commemoration of the International Day of Vesak 2020
in a virtual format
Thursday 2 July 2020
9.00 - 10.30 AM (NY time)
The updated programme and the technical note for participation are attached.
Please note the REVISED Zoom LINK to access the event.
We hope that you will be able to join us at this important event.
The first Board of Management meeting in 2020 of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) was held on Tuesday, 9 June 2020 at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies under the patronage of Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha, new Members of the Board of Management of the Institute, Professor Kapila Gunawardhana, Dr Rohan Gunaratna, Mrs Suganthi Kadirgamar, Mr Kosala Wickramanayake and Executive Director Dr Ganeshan Wignaraja participated at this meeting.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena explained the importance of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy and foreign relations.
The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Rome and the Consulate General Office in Milan have arranged facilities to cater to over 10,000 Sri Lankans who would seek consular assistance in the process of regularising their visa status under “Sanatoria 2020” special amnesty granted by the Italian Government with effect from 1 June to 15 July 2020, by providing essential consular services to the many Sri Lankan community members, to expedite the passport application process.
Comprehensive measures taken by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, in close coordination with the key Government Economic Agencies and the private sector to address and mitigate the impact of COVID 19 particularly on Sri Lankan exports, has helped in sustaining and regaining lost markets for traditional Sri Lankan exports, while enabling new opportunities. Exports which accounted for US $ 277 Million in April 2020, had increased to US $606 Million in May, and is expected to grow in the coming months, in line with the revised projections.
This observation was made by the Foreign Ministry’s Additional Secretary/Economic Affairs P.M. Amza, during an interview on Ada Derana on 10 June 2020, held to discuss the economic impact of COVID-19, and its demands and challenges for Sri Lanka.
The attention of the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Ottawa has been drawn to Media reports concerning the Private Member Bill 104 presented in 2019 to the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
The High Commission and the Consulate General in Toronto continue engagement in this regard with both the Federal and Provincial Authorities. Sri Lanka’s firm protest against the blatantly false claims being made in the Bill including the grossly exaggerated number of casualties at the conclusion of the conflict in Sri Lanka and allegations of “genocide” have been conveyed. The authorities have also been urged to consider a balanced view and not to be swayed by prejudicial viewpoints propagated by certain anti-Sri Lanka activists in Canada.
It is observed that several Sri Lanka groups and individuals in Canada have also engaged the Canadian authorities against the misrepresentations in the politically motivated Private Member Bill.
The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), in consultation with the Export Development Board (EDB) has initiated the Platform from Sri Lanka, aimed at supporting Sri Lankan companies to promote their products and services in the global market, and encouraging traders in connecting with local suppliers.