I am very glad to be here on this occasion to formally inaugurate the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute and I wish to thank the distinguished assembly of Honorable Ministers, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations, Consuls, Public Servants, Representatives of Business Organizations, Educationists and well wishers for their presence. The founding of this institute as the first of its kind in Sri Lanka is a source of personal satisfaction to me not only because it embodies the ideals to which my late husband was dedicated but also my own faith in its aims and its role for our country. It is I feel a long felt need which will open a new dimension in administration particularly in the sphere of our foreign relations. Though belated it is in my view a fitting recognition of our outstanding record since historic times in foreign relations and our potential in that field which emphasizes the need to gear ourselves accordingly.
I am sure you are all aware of the nature and background of this institute and its underlying rationale. There are two features of the Institute which I wish to highlight. Firstly it is intended to provide a training to recruits to the professional Foreign Service as well as other functionaries of the Ministry who are engaged in the conduct of foreign relations. Such a system of training should have been initiated decades ago considering that we embarked on our career as an independent sovereign state 47 years ago, but with the launching of this institute, we should be able I hope, to create a truly professional service with the necessary attributes, skills and commitment. Secondly, the Institute goes beyond the professional foreign service and reaches out to other sectors of the nation which are called upon to assume various responsibilities and participate in the process of foreign relations. These are what we refer to as the business and trade sectors, the state sector meaning the public administration, members of the defense and security services and other organizations, Non Governmental Bodies and members of the general public who are genuinely interested.
The rationale for these broad perspectives of the Institute is the growing interdependence and interaction between nations today as a result of the United Nations, of escalating political and economic multilateralism, of enveloping regionalism, all of which have radically transformed the international scene and imposed onerous responsibilities on member states. These bear particularly hard on smaller countries who are ill equipped to meet these challenges. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, it is on the threshold of a new chapter with its adoption of a market economy and visions of NIE status which have drawn it into the vortex of international relations at all levels obliging it therefore to acquire the skills and insights needed to meet these challenges. It is upto the executive community of the country holding leadership and decision making positions and are at the forefront to respond accordingly and measure up as required. This institute is a modest start towards providing the basic induction through its broad and comprehensive course curriculum which encapsulates the salient features of the current global scenario. This will be achieved by in-depth lectures by recognized authorities in these fields and practical exercises which will demonstrate the methods and techniques of modern diplomacy and conduct of international relations. It is therefore an unrivalled opportunity to the executive community of the country to gain an insight and background knowledge of the contemporary world which should be of inestimable benefit to them in their respective fields both in safeguarding and promoting their interests and contributing thereby to the greater good of the nation. Such knowledge would be an investment to them personally and a means of gaining excellence in their vocations.
The aim of the institute is to make it an international center for studies in Diplomacy and International Relations in keeping with the historic image of Sri Lanka as a meeting ground of nations. It is with this objective in mind that we are inviting foreign guest lecturers and foreign participants to our courses. We are prepared to give special concessions to representatives of small developing countries to induce participation. It is because of our international outlook that we have turned to the international community and invited their cooperation. I am happy to say that their response has been very encouraging and a number of governments have made prompt and generous contributions. I refer specifically to the outright financial grant by the Federal Republic of Germany which enabled the institute to pay for its equipment and installation, commitments of guest lecturers by the Federal Republic of Germany and France. Offers of lectureships and other help have been made by Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, China and Japan which are under discussion. I have no doubt that other offers are on the way. We are hopeful of support from the UN and the Colombo Plan in as much as the Institute accords with their priorities such as capacity training. I am also grateful to Her Excellency the President for her generosity in providing a financial grant for this institute.
Needless to say, the future of the Institute will depend on the ground support which it receives from the sectors for which it is designed. I expect the great business and industrial houses which dominate our economy to rise to the occasion and encourage participation. It is equally up to the public sectors, particularly in Trade and Industry which are now at the centre of the country’s foreign economic relations in the context of the globalisation of trade through the WTO to likewise respond. I address a similar message to the NGO’s which have been described by the Secretary General as key actors in the international scene to make use of all the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the global scene. It is incumbent on all of us meaning, states, peoples and those in key positions to get to know the world which is fast shrinking with the revolution in communications technology making us in reality an indivisible family. I conclude therefore with the hope and an appeal to all those concerned to extend their full support and for our friends in the international community to lend us their patronage as our Institute is a step which will enable our people with their inborn talents for diplomacy to perform even better.