Minister of Media and State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene today said that the Indian Ocean region (IOR) maritime domain and its affairs have become one of the crucial factors that decide and influence present, as well as future maritime affairs.
Making the Keynote Address, State Minister Wijewardene said that cooperation and partnership among nations have become a realistic approach in addressing global issues in the present day, and various interested communities are looking for opportunities to establish partnerships with their counterparts in terms of mutual agreement, in trade, in defence etc. In this backdrop, maritime stakeholders must strive to enhance maritime security through cooperation with friendly nations.
The ‘Galle Dialogue- 2019’, the 10th Annual International Maritime Conference of the Sri Lanka Navy commenced at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, yesterday.
Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General (Retd) S.H.S. Kottegoda, Admiral of the Fleet, Wasantha Karannagoda, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva were also present at the occasion. The conference is being held under the theme “Refining Mindset to Address Transnational Maritime Threats; A Review of the Decade”. Speaking further Minister Wijewardena also said that the oceans will continue to be the meeting ground for nations and they will also constitute the hope of mankind in search of new sources of sustenance.
“Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean plays a vital role in the maritime route of the East and West and the strategic importance of Sri Lanka in the maritime history is much bigger compared to its small size,” he said. “Transnational threats are becoming one of the major security issues in the IOR and this has endangered the security of the major sea routes of the Indian Ocean.” Fortified with the advantage of this unique position in the Indian Ocean, we are looking at the future with great expectations to regain our maritime glory in the Indian Ocean by promoting trade and tourism so that we can make Sri Lanka an important maritime node in this vital sea stretch, he further said.
Sri Lanka recognises the value of Freedom of Navigation and the smooth flow of trade and energy across the Indian Ocean as a common norm abided by each and every peaceful nation. Therefore, Sri Lanka will take part in any initiative that helps to protect this vital Freedom of Navigation and the smooth flow of trade and energy. In doing so, we are ready to work with our regional as well as global partners, he stressed.
He said that no country is capable of handling maritime security threats and challenges in isolation. The need is to think globally and engage in a structured and cooperative mechanism in view to effectively address maritime security threats and challenges. In conclusion he expressed confidence that the Galle Dialogue 2019 would be an eye-opening forum to understand the issues in IOR and establish a common mindset and this endeavour will focus on preparing for the future with a revised structure offering a cooperative mechanism and a renewed “mindset” to address transnational maritime threats based on the experiences of the stakeholders in last 10 years.