The Director of Indo-Lanka Initiatives at the Pathfinder Foundation, Admiral Dr.Jayanath Colombage delivered a special lecture titled ‘Geo-Strategic Competition and Dynamics in the India Ocean: A south Asian Perspective’ at a conference titled ‘Security Challenges in Asia and Europe in 2017’, jointly organized by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s Japan office and the Japan Campus of the Temple University, held in Tokyo, Japan recently.
Admiral Colombage’s paper covered areas such as Geo-Strategic and Geo-Economic importance of the Indian Ocean, strategic significance of South Asia in the Indian Ocean, Major Maritime Users and their dependence and focus on the Indian Ocean, arguments and counter arguments for 21st century maritime silk route and Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, Arms race and Nuclearization of the Indian Ocean, Spillover effects from Western Pacific Ocean, strategic convergence of India, USA and Japan and status of an unofficial maritime cold war in the Indian Ocean, threats posed by non-state actors, and strategic dilemma of smaller less powerful states such as Dr. Colombage addressing the conference
Sri Lanka due to the strategic competition and influence of major players. Admiral Colombage emphasized the importance of maintaining a rule based maritime order to facilitate freedom of maritime commerce and freedom of over-fly in this ocean.
Admiral also spoke about the need to maintain effective “Commercial Diplomacy” by Sri Lanka and the possible role which can be played by Sri Lanka in coordinating Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and developing a Code of Conduct for Major Maritime Users in the Indian Ocean. The potential and the desire of Sri Lanka to be the financial and Maritime hub between Singapore and Dubai by leveraging the geostrategic location, without neglecting the geo-political and geo-economic realities and concerns was also highlighted during this lecture.
This conference was conducted under the Social and Economic Governance Program of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Japan Office and scholars and Subject Matter Experts representing universities, research centers, think tanks, media organization from NATO, Canada, Italy, USA, UK, Germany, Japan, and Philippines presented papers based on three main themes; German-Japanese Security Policy, Maritime Security: a multi-dimensional Global Outlook and Challenges in Security Cooperation: Overcoming Isolationism and unilateralism. On completion of the conference there was a discussion with the Journalists from the Yomiuri Shimbun, which is the largest circulated newspaper in Japan and another round table discussion at the Research Institute for Peace and Security (RIPS).
The main objectives of the conference and the follow up events were to examine recent trends in international security cooperation between global players in Europe and Asia, as well as changing security dynamics in the Asia-Pacific. For the first time, the organizers wanted to focus specially on the Indian Ocean Security as a connector to the Western Pacific. Admiral Dr. Colombage was the only academic invited for this conference from the Indian Ocean Region.