“Our foreign policy led us to enhance the importance of the Indian Ocean Globally… We should leverage our position in the Indian Ocean to ensure that Sri Lanka would get the maximum benefit”, these remarks were made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was the keynote speaker at the 23rd Convocation of the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI) held on 13th August 2019.
Highlighting the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean Prime Minister identified how Sri Lanka could benefit economically. As Sri Lanka marches forward into a more globalized world, the country will be prone to more challenges. As it is moving past a Civil war era, the country needs to formulate a foreign policy focused on its long term goals
Referring to Sri Lanka Foreign relations, the Prime Minister mentioned that we must look beyond our coastline and aim to be one of the main parties in the blue economy and promote freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. Therefore, holding no military alliances with any State but enhancing cultural and economic cooperation with all States. He also emphasised the dangers of the effects of climate change and the need for Sri Lanka to use its resources particularly the Navy and Air Force to protect the Indian Ocean while safeguarding the national security.
He stressed the fact that the Indian Ocean has become more prominent in global affairs as Asia has become the epicenter for world economic and military activity. Hence, Sri Lanka lies in an advantageous position having the potential to become a hub of economic activity working alongside China and India. These two countries are forecasted to be the largest contributors to the world economy in a few years.
The prime minister commended the BIDTI for its significant contribution in enhancing public understanding of global affairs and mentioned that there was an increased contribution by public in the media addressing social, political and economic affairs of the country which affects us all.