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Ambassador's Address at 70th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations in Seoul

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  • Date18-02-08 18:08
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Address by H.E. Manisha Gunasekera, Ambassador of Sri Lanka,

at the Reception to Celebrate the 70th National Day of Sri Lanka

7th February 2018, Seoul, Millennium Seoul Hilton​ 



Anneon Hashemika,

Good evening,


Her Excellency Park Enna, Ambassador for Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Guest of Honour this evening,

Hon. Joo Hoyoung and Hon. Jeong Kabyoon), Members of the National Assembly,

Ms. Lee Young-ae and Mr. Chung Ho-young,

Mr. Kim Im Kweon, Sri Lanka’s Hony. Consul in Busan,



Ladies and Gentlemen, 


I am delighted to welcome you this evening when Sri Lanka celebrates the important milestone of the 70th Anniversary of our Independence.  Sri Lanka is one of the earliest democracies in the post-colonial world and in Asia, having gained independence on 4th February 1948.  It is also a country that has consistently upheld parliamentary democracy without interruption, despite challenges.


This year, we celebrate our independence under the theme of ‘One Nation’ at an opportune moment in our bilateral cooperation with the Republic of Korea.  The celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries, combined with the state visit of His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, the President of Sri Lanka, to the Republic of Korea last November, has led to renewed collaboration between our two countries on the political, economic and cultural spheres.


Ambassador Park,

I am honoured by your gracious presence this evening.  I am also honoured by the presence of all distinguished invitees and friends of Sri Lanka when we celebrate this important milestone.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

While Ceylon at the time of independence was considered a model Commonwealth nation; post-independence, the country has had to confront formidable challenges.  Yet today, Sri Lanka stands proud among the community of nations as a country that has successfully overcome those challenges and consolidated peace.  Today, our nation is engaged in a transparent process to bring durable peace and reconciliation to all our peoples.


Three years into office, the national unity Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has, as pledged, taken concrete measures to strengthen democratic institutions, uphold good governance and the rule of law, and eradicate corruption, through constitutional, judicial and administrative reform.  For the first time in our history, a section of the National Budget for 2018 is dedicated to achieving reconciliation.


Today, our island nation, centrally located in the fast growing South Asian region, is making steady progress on the economic front.  I am pleased to observe that the Agreement on Economic Cooperation signed between Sri Lanka and Korea during the state visit, combined with the MOU signed between the two investment promotion agencies of the two countries, introduce conducive mechanisms to further expand bilateral investment, trade and tourism.


Last year, global foreign direct investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka doubled from the previous year, exemplifying the country’s attractive investment climate.  Sri Lanka’s FTAs with India, Pakistan and Singapore, the FTA under negotiation with China, combined with Sri Lanka’s ‘Look East’ policy, demonstrate the country’s interest in integrating in global markets and value chains, leveraging its advantageous location as a hub in the Indian ocean.


We welcome the steady progress made in collaboration between Korea and Sri Lanka under the Western Region Megapolis Plan in the context of the MOU signed with Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.  We also welcome Korean investment in key sectors and projects in Sri Lanka. 


Korea’s ODA plays a complementary role to Korean investment into Sri Lanka.  In this regard, the recent increase in Korea’s concessionary loan facility under EDCF cooperation to Sri Lanka by US$ 200 million, is salutary, as is our cooperation with KOICA.


Similarly, labour relations form a key pillar of our bilateral partnership.  Around 27,000 Sri Lankan youth are employed in Korea under the Employment Permit System (EPS), contributing to the economies of both countries.   


While our Buddhist ties go back 15 centuries or more, in more contemporary terms, the ‘K-wave’ or Hallyu has captivated the Sri Lankan imagination.  I am honoured to welcome among us today famous Actress Ms. Lee Young-ae who is a celebrity in Sri Lanka, ever since the Korean drama Dae Jang Geum became a box office hit on our television. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,


While Sri Lanka continues to hit the charts as a top tourist destination in the world, we are pleased that more and more Korean tourists are discovering the beauty and tastes of Sri Lanka.  In terms of branding, Ceylon tea remains synonymous with the world’s best, along with our blue sapphires and ‘true cinnamon’.



Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, we welcome President Moon Jae-in’s vision of a ‘New Southern policy’ which encompasses South Asia, and could mark a new and exciting chapter in our bilateral cooperation.  We also wish Korea success in the soon-to-commence Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.


I also take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to Sri Lanka’s Honorary Consul in Busan Mr. Kim Im-kweon; as well as the Cinnamon Group of Hotels and Resorts, among others, for the support extended in organizing today’s event. 


And last but not least, I thank each and every one of you for your valued presence today.  I hope you enjoy the authentic Sri Lankan food that is specially prepared for you today.  


Please enjoy the evening.


Thank you