'Galle Dialogue 2016' held on a successful note in Colombo

The International Maritime Conference, 'Galle Dialogue 2016' organized by the Sri Lanka Navy in partnership with Ministry of Defence, commenced at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo today (28). This year's conference is promoting the theme of ' Fostering Strategic Maritime Partnerships' to affirm strong collaboration with the stakeholders in the maritime sphere. Local and foreign scholars and experts in naval and maritime affairs representing 41 countries and 12 international organizations are expected to share their expertise and discuss matters of professional interest at the two-day dialogue. Further, 7 Naval Chiefs are also among the distinguished participants that include over 130 foreign delegates.

His Excellency the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Maithripala Sirisena graced the occasion as the Chief Guest at the flagship event. Minister of Finance, Hon. Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Ports and Shipping, Hon. Arjuna Ranatunga, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Regional Development, Hon. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Harsha de Silva, State Minister of Defence Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Kolitha Gunathilaka, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Krishantha de Silva, Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathi, Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara, several Ambassadors and High Commissioners to Sri Lanka, senior Government and military officials were also among the VIPs attending the inaugural session.

The Commander of the Navy making the welcome remarks extended a warm welcome to all participants of the Galle Dialogue International Maritime Conference, which is being held for the seventh consecutive year. He thanked His Excellency the President for his gracious presence on the occasion as the Chief Guest and expressed his appreciation for the guidance and assistance given by the Ministry of Defence for the successful conduct of the event. Besides, he highlighted that Galle Dialogue had become a very prominent International Maritime Conference in our region as everyone speaks of the importance of establishing partnerships to address maritime threats and challenges.

"If partnerships are to prosper, we have to have confidence in our partners. Confidence building among partners can ensure regional stability by way of eliminating misunderstanding and mistrust. We need to work towards establishing stronger connections by fostering seamless maritime partnerships. As we all know, maritime domain has the ability to promote regional peace, prosperity, and stability. And, our dependency on the maritime domain will continue to grow with the ever increasing maritime trade and energy flow", Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne stated further.‍

Meanwhile in his speech, the State Minister of Defence, Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene, highlighted that the global strategic balance was unprecedentedly becoming maritime centric in modern times and the Indian Ocean space has become so influential and an interesting region for the global economy and its stability. The attention to the Indian Ocean Region has evolved, especially during the last few decades mainly due to the shift of global economic attention towards Asia. The growth in the density of global maritime trade and shipping network across the oceans in the Indian Ocean Region and the emergence of regional powers are some of the other reasons that resulted in the shift of global focus of attention on our region. Therefore, all the events that are unfolding in this ocean space today have a very important global strategic influence, Hon. Wijewardene opined .

Apart from that, the naval and other military chiefs along with eminent scholars participated in today's dialogue, presented their papers making room for further deliberation with regard to seamless maritime partnerships among the stakeholders in the region. Accordingly the first day of Galle Dialogue 2016 cane to a successful end today (28).