Certificate Awarding Ceremony of Defense Attaches

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.

Training programme for the prospective Defence Attachés / Counsellors inaugurated at the BIDTI

A training programme for the prospective Defence Attachés/ Counsellors scheduled to assume duties at the Sri Lanka missions overseas was inaugurated on 18th of February 2019 at the BIDTI. Thirty officers selected from the tri forces viz the Army, the Navy and the Air Force have joined the training programme.

Welcoming the invitees and participants, Director General Pamela J. Deen stated that the programme was the first of this nature taking place in Sri Lanka, thus filling the void felt for a long time. While congratulating the participants for being selected, she mentioned that the training envisaged was intensive and would cover all necessary aspect for them to perform duties as Defence Attachés. Further, in view of the responsibilities involved their spouses would be invited to attend the programme appropriately.

Speaking at the inauguration Director General of the Ocean Affairs and Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sashikala Premawardhane, representing the Secretary of the Ministry emphasized the relevance and the importance of the programme. It would enlighten and equip all Defence Attachés prior to their assuming duties overseas.

Demarcating the roles of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she mentioned that there was a strong link between the two ministries. Director General Premawardhane gave an overall picture to the audience emphasizing the need of both Ministries to work together for the national interest and national security of the country. She said that the end of the war brought out changes needed and outlook shifts, but the national security and the national interest remain as the focal points.

Main objective of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to promote, protect and projection of national interest and the prospective Defence Attachés should focus on working closer relations with defense establishments of countries assigned in order to accrue benefit to Sri Lanka. In that exercise they could promote defence dialogue, thematic conferences and seeking to enter into agreements on defence cooperation. Further, she opined a new vista for the selected Defence Attachés to be innovative in thinking while being alert to grasp opportunities to promote domestic and foreign interests.

Director General Staff, Training and Doctrine Major General H.R.N. Fernando representing the Chief of Defence Staff appreciated the initiative taken by the BIDTI in organizing the programme. Brigadier I.G.R.G. Bogodawatta, Coordinator of the training programme and Commander Amila Darmawardhane of the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff were present.

 

Economic Diplomacy programme at the BIDTI

A training programme on Economic Diplomacy had been conducted at the BIDTI from 3rd to 8th April 2019 with the collaboration of the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI). Upon request made by the BIDTI, the Global Affairs Canada arranged the visit of Ambassador David Devine to conduct series of lectures on economic diplomacy. Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated the conduct of the training programme in three stages enabling large number of participants to benefit from the expert experience.

 

Ambassador Devine, a skilled negotiator has an experience over 36 years involved in negotiations for Canada in trade, free trade agreements and the World Trade Organisation Agreement.

Senior and mid-level Sri Lanka Foreign Service officers, nominees of the key stakeholders involved in promoting trade and investment attended the programme held from 3rd to 5th April 2019. Among the participants were Ambassadors designated to number of countries, nominees of the Board of Investment, Gems & Jewellery Authority, Export Development Board, Tea Promotion Bureau, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade and Dept of Commerce. On 6th April cadets of the Foreign Service and Trade Service attended an exclusive programme organized for them. Ambassador Devine also made a presentation on 8th April to participants of the 20th Diploma in Diplomacy and World Affairs course where robust discussion took place.