- Foreign Secretary Aryasinha calls for early inclusion for SL to build stronger ASEAN ties
Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha on Thursday called for an early decision by Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to include Sri Lanka as an ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partner, in order to strengthen engagement with ASEAN and its member countries.
This follows the submission to the ASEAN of Sri Lanka’s dossier for Sectoral Dialogue Partnership in March 2019.
The Foreign Secretary made this request when he addressed the ASEAN Day commemoration event held at the Indonesian Embassy in Colombo, where he conveyed the felicitations of the Government of Sri Lanka on the auspicious occasion.
The event hosted by the Indonesian Ambassador Gusti Ngurah Ardiyasa was attended by the Ambassadors/High Commissioners of Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps, Government officials, the business community and well-wishers.
He pointed out that the significant importance Sri Lanka placed on relations with the ASEAN region is evidenced by the fact that Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka had just returned from the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Thailand, while the President is currently on a State visit to Cambodia.
Tracing Sri Lanka’s historical events and engagements with the ASEAN countries, including through Buddhism, maritime connections, economic activity, people-to-people contact and other means since the early times, Foreign Secretary Aryasinha said Sri Lanka’s keenness to be integrally associated with the ASEAN region has been evident even before Independence.
Sri Lanka’s aspiration to bring together selected countries of the region through a regional mechanism was first articulated by jointly adopting the Resolution for the establishment of an Asian Relations Organisation at the Asian Relations Conference in 1947 in New Delhi. Subsequently, through the Colombo Powers Conference in 1954, a private members bill was moved by then Opposition Member J. R. Jayawardena in 1961, and active interest shown at the time ASEAN was formed in 1967. Subsequently, Sri Lanka articulated this vision on several occasions.
Foreign Secretary said Sri Lanka as a sectoral dialogue partner will provide the necessary mechanism to “continue the historical legacy of partnership we have had with your region and your people,” and that Sri Lanka looked forward to working with the respective ASEAN countries to pursue Sri Lanka’s application with a view to further strengthening and cementing Sri Lanka’s solidarity and partnership with ASEAN.
Ambassador Chulamanee Chartsuwan of Thailand, as the current Chair of ASEAN, addressing the gathering, highlighted ASEAN’s vision and emphasised key factors which govern ASEAN as a rule-based, people-centric organisation which is projected by some to become the world’s fourth-largest economic region by 2020.
Sri Lanka joined the ARF in 2007, preceded by the accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity in the same year. The Ambassador in Jakarta was first accredited to the ASEAN in July 2016.