Galle Dialogue was inaugurated by the Sri Lanka Navy in 2010 under the patronage of the Ministry of Defence. 132 delegates representing 42 countries and 12 International Organizations have participated in this year’s Galle Dialogue held under the theme of “Fostering Strategic Maritime Partnerships”.
The connectivity to East and West was primarily through our island nation
State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene
The maritime domain and its affairs today have become one of the crucial factors that have the ability to decide and influence present as well as future affairs to greater extent, State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene said.
“The importance of fostering stronger partnerships among the maritime community holds a great er deal of significance than ever before. International conference like the Galle Dialogue therefore can play a major role in providing a platform for the much needed discussion and medium to form strong partnerships especially among the maritime community”, he said.
The connectivity to East and West was primarily through our island nation. We were very much a part of the ancient maritime silk route and were known by ocean travelers as a great maritime trade hub.
I am confident that our present as well as future contributions in the fields of; trade, energy, and security will be able to make a significant impact the Indian Ocean Region.
If you look at the transshipment sector, we facilitate nearly 70% transshipment of the Indian subcontinent. A very vital shipping highway run just South of Sri Lanka carrying energy and trade to the East and West. We expect a major leap forward on this field in the coming few years.
Sri Lanka also has a huge responsibility in ensuring the continuous flow of this vital lifeline. As no nation is capable of addressing challenges and threats in the maritime domain in isolation, we too seek cooperation and coordination from all nations to ensure that the Indian Ocean is kept free from all threats and challengers.
Importantly, Sri Lanka recognized the value of ‘freedom of navigation’ and the smooth flow of trade and energy across the Indian Ocean to other parts of the globe.
SL is emerging as a major maritime hub in the region
Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne
Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne said country dependency on the maritime domain would continue to grow with the ever increasing maritime trade and energy flow.
Sri Lanka is emerging as a major maritime hub in the region and is also an important partner in maritime security. 95 foreign warships from Navies and Coast Guards around the world visited our ports from January 8, 2015, the day new government of President Maithripala Sirisena came into power, till to date.
The Sri Lanka Navy has to expand in terms of assets and acquire professional competencies by fostering stronger partnerships with navies and other stakeholders.
The Sri Lanka Navy is more than happy to foster partnerships with others to share our experience. Such partnerships will assure freedom of navigation, secure seas for trade, economic prosperity and stability.
Relations between India and SL are stronger than ever before
Indian Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba
The Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral Sunil Lanba said the 7th edition of Galle Dialogue came at a time when warm and cordial relations between India and Sri Lanka were stronger than ever before. “It is of particular significance that our strong bonds are ascribed to maritime trade, culture and religious interactions for ages” he said, delivering the speech at the forum.
Admiral Sunil Lanba said fostering strategic maritime partnerships in the region would certainly help evolve a more integrated view of the region. “It is beyond doubt that regional actors have a better understanding of the local patterns of relations and interactions. The Indian Ocean Region denotes such a region. India’s maritime heritage is characterised by a range of peaceful cultural exchanges and trade endeavours. The same impulse governs India’s maritime outlook even today”, he said.
For a free and secure maritime environment, it is imperative that there is a shared commitment from maritime nations across the region.
He said that the Indian Ocean held immense promise for political, economic and maritime security co-operation. “It is beyond doubt that the threats and challenges, and the opportunities that they offer, cannot be managed single-handedly. The challenges and opportunities provided by the Indian Ocean necessitate a cooperative and collaborative approach,” he further said.
The people of Sri Lanka have witnessed the restorative effects of democracy
U.S. Pacific Command Commander Admiral Harry B. Harris
Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to justice and the rule of law would bring expanded cooperation with the United States, U.S. Pacific Command Commander Admiral Harry B. Harris said. While delivering the keynote speech at the 7th Galle Dialogue; International Maritime Conference held in Colombo, Admiral Harris said the people of Sri Lanka had witnessed the restorative effects of democracy in action. “I personally admire the tough steps taken by the people of Sri Lanka and your leaders,” he said. He said Sri Lanka could be a convening power to discuss freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. “Your voice matters. That’s especially important considering this year’s first port visits to Sri Lanka by US Naval ships since 2011. This validates the strengthening of military ties – a benchmark event in the Sri Lanka-US bilateral relationship.”
In March, USS Blue Ridge, the US 7th Fleet Flag Ship, hosted President Sirisena right here in Colombo’s port. Its success paved the way for subsequent port visits by three other US ships this year – USS New Orleans, USS Frank Cable, and most recently the USS Somerset which visited Trincomalee just a few days ago. Expanded cooperation with the United States – cooperation that benefited both countries in meaningful ways – would be matched with Sri Lanka’s efforts to continue on its path of reconciliation and transparency after three decades of tragic conflict. “I believe we must share information between navies and law enforcement, at both the national and regional levels, to build a common operating picture. This common operating picture will help us understand what those many vessels at sea are doing – whether they are military or merchant ships lawfully operating in the exclusive economic zones, or commercial vessels potentially engaged in drug smuggling, illegal fishing or trafficking in persons” Admiral Harris said.