Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana said that the prime duty of Sri Lankan Defence Attachés assigned to Sri Lanka Missions overseas is to serve the country and its people and that they should be mindful of the fact that they are ‘there to serve and not to be served’.
Foreign Minister Marapana made these remarks attending as the chief guest of the certificate awarding ceremony of the Intensive Training Programme for military officers who would be assigned as Defence Attachés/ Advisors in Sri Lanka Missions overseas, organized by the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI), the training arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The certificate awarding ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday (08 March). The participating military officers received their certificates from Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana upon successful completion of the training programme.
The Intensive Training Programme, which was conducted at the BIDTI from 18 February to 07 March 2019, was attended by thirty (30) officers from the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Air Force and the Sri Lanka Navy, who would be assigned as Defence Attachés/ Advisors in Sri Lanka Missions overseas in the near future.
This was the first time that the BIDTI conducted a Training Programme for prospective Defence Attachés/ Advisors of Sri Lanka.
Delivering the keynote address of the ceremony, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana further said that although these officers receive a comprehensive training in their relevant field, when serving abroad as Defence Attachés they are exposed to a new climate of work. In this context, the Minister observed, that training programmes of this nature would equip them with the broad spectrum of knowledge that is required to carry out their diplomatic assignments. The Minister further said that they should not forget the most important element of their work – that is to serve the people of Sri Lanka.
Addressing the ceremony, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha paid tribute to the defence services and the Defence Attachés who served during the conflict and the immediate aftermath of the conflict. He recalled with appreciation the tremendous support and leverage that the diplomatic agents received from Defence Attachés in their battle against the LTTE in international fronts. Referring to the rising extremism in the international arena and the importance of defence cooperation in curbing it, he requested the prospective Defence Attachés to help the international community to deal with the menace of terrorism with the benefit of their lived experience of fighting one the world’s most ruthless terrorist organizations.
Director General of the BIDTI Ambassador Pamela J. Deen welcomed the invitees and participants, and stated that the BIDTI was pleased to conduct this programme on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Commodore A.B. Dhanapala of the Sri Lanka Navy, on behalf of the participants, delivered the vote of thanks.
This Intensive Training Programme, which aimed at helping participants understand the nature and scope of their diplomatic assignments overseas, dealt with a range of topics that are relevant to their line of work.
The programme included lectures on theoretical as well as practical aspects of diplomacy, covering a wide range of topics including the history of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic relations, foreign policy of Sri Lanka since independence, bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, media relations, human rights, protocol and the role of a Defence Attaché in a Sri Lanka Mission overseas.
Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, members of the Colombo-based diplomatic corps including several Ambassadors, representatives of the Army and Air Force commanders, and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the certificate awarding ceremony.