Sri Lanka: Dignitaries look forward to a prosperous 2020
President of Sri Lanka
"Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour"; What we need at this hour is correct vision and unshakable leadership. I thank you for entrusting me with the task of overcoming the challenges our country faces and leading our Motherland towards peace and prosperity. This journey is being undertaken under the guidance of a proven leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa. His wisdom and experience will be a great source of strength to us in this national endeavour. I strongly believe that I will be able to create the peaceful, prosperous and beautiful Sri Lanka that you aspire.
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka marks 72 years of independence on February 4, 2020. During the past few years, the independence that we won on February 4, 1948, faced unprecedented challenges. What we can learn from that experience is that achieving freedom and preserving it are two different matters entirely. The freedom that we obtained in 1948 in the eyes of the law, came very close to being vitiated after 2015 through bad politics. But the result of the presidential election held last November showed the determination of our people to safeguard our status as an independent nation.
When we look back upon the 72 years that have passed since we gained independence, we see some cause for satisfaction. Even in the midst of some serious challenges, the system of representative democracy based on universal suffrage has survived in this country. We are ahead of most countries in terms of indices relating to health and literacy. We have a free media and every citizen is assured of his personal safety. During the period 2006 to 2014, this country was also able to achieve a major leap forward in economic terms.
The challenge before us today is to restore to this country the economic progress that was lost due to bad politics. Today, we mark the first Independence Day of a new decade with a new government in power. I can confidently state that due to the patriotic enthusiasm and the desire to build a new country that has galvanised the people, especially the youth, we are now on the cusp of a golden era once again.
It is my belief and expectation that people belonging to all ethnic groups and religions living in this country will come together as one, to participate in the task of taking this country forward into an era of prosperity.
Dinesh Gunawardena, M P,
Minister of Foreign Relations, Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations
On this day, as we celebrate the 72nd Independence Day, I wish to convey my warm greetings to all Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka as well as in various parts of the world. Today, as a nation, we stand proud of the progress made towards safeguarding the freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country whilst strengthening the economic and political rights of all our citizens.
This year marks the commemoration of the first Independence Day under the leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was elected to office on November 16, 2019, to usher in an era of peace, prosperity and national reconciliation. Under his leadership, we embark on a new path of development formulating national policies, which will focus on national security, stability and law and order in the country, while empowering the people's economic well-being and livelihood.
As we celebrate this day, it is incumbent upon all Sri Lankans to recognise our bounden duty to respect our national heroes whose leadership and commitment steered the country towards freedom from colonial rule. We must also pay tribute to the great sacrifices of our valiant war heroes who protected our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the fight against terrorism over 30 years.
While we can be proud of the progress made thus far, much remains to be achieved. The task of nation-building is one that requires the dedication and commitment of all Sri Lankans, shedding all differences in order to build one strong nation. It is our steadfast belief that the strength of our freedom largely depends on how we are able to give Sri Lanka a global standing as an independent sovereign state. Through a people-centred economic policy, using the strategic importance of Sri Lanka in global geo-politics, we seek to embrace new technologies and harness indigenous skills and knowledge, while protecting the bedrock of cultural and social heritage of our past, to move ahead to victories in the future.
As we commemorate independence, let us dedicate ourselves to make a firm resolve to achieve the vision of prosperity for our country. I invite all Sri Lankans, living in both Sri Lanka and overseas, to join hands with the Government in this endeavour.
Chairman, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment
On the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day celebrations of Sri Lanka, I am pleased to convey my greetings to all Sri Lankans working in the UAE. Since the establishment of bilateral relations between the two countries in 1979, it was strengthened gradually and progressively with mutual understanding and respect.
I wish to state that the UAE remains one of the most preferred destinations for Sri Lankan skilled workers, covering broad spectrum of employments. I also take this opportunity to appreciate the active role played by Sri Lankan expatriate workers. Their valued contribution by means of foreign remittances for the acceleration of development activities are taking place in the country.
On this great occasion, I kindly request our beloved Sri Lankan expatriate community working in the UAE to get together as one nation and build our Motherland as a prosperous and peaceful country.
Ambassador of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the UAE
It is with a great sense of pride and happiness that I extend my warmest greetings and sincere felicitations to the Sri Lankan expatriate community living in the UAE and to the friendly people of UAE on the auspicious occasion of our beloved motherland, Sri Lanka. It is indeed a momentous occasion for all Sri Lankans to celebrate the 72nd Independence Day of Sri Lanka, bringing us together in a spirit of unity and strength.
Sri Lanka-UAE special relations span many decades. Sri Lanka has been serving as an important trading post over decades, with the UAE being a vital destination in the Middle East.
Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and UAE were established in 1979. Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to establish a resident Diplomatic Mission in UAE. In 2019, Sri Lanka and the UAE celebrated 40 years of diplomatic relations, which was an auspicious opportunity to reflect on and rekindle this vibrant bond of friendship that has continued for many decades.
Over the years, relations between the two countries have grown exponentially, covering a multitude of areas with mutual benefit. During the past four decades, high level visits between the countries have contributed to the further strengthening of relations. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father and first President of the UAE visited Sri Lanka to attend the 5th Non-Aligned Summit in 1976. Mahinda Rakapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, undertook an official visit to the UAE in 2014. The late Lakshman Kadirgamar, PC., MP, visited UAE in 2001, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation visited Sri Lanka in 2009 and 2017. There have also been visits at all levels further promoting these special bonds of friendship, expansion of bilateral relationship and providing opportunities for closer collaboration and cooperation. People-to-people contact have also influenced the cuisine, language, culture and religion among our peoples.
Trade between the two countries has been steadily increasing with UAE emerging as one of Sri Lanka's major trading partners. Investment opportunities have also increased over the years. The connectivity with over 60 direct flights weekly between the two countries have spurred an increase in the inbound and outbound tourism markets.
Over the years, Sri Lankans have been working in every sphere of activity in the UAE, leaving an indelible imprint in the development of UAE. Today, the number of Sri Lankans living and working in UAE is well over 300,000 and the number is steadily increasing.
I wish to thank the Government of the UAE for its continued support in all spheres, which has further enhanced the warm and cordial relations existing between the two countries.
Consul-General of Sri Lanka to Dubai and Northern Emirates
I have great pleasure in extending my warm wishes and felicitations to all Sri Lankans living in the UAE on this special day of celebrating the 72nd Independence Day of our Motherland.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of Sri Lanka Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 1979, the cordial and friendly bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the UAE have witnessed a number of important milestones throughout its journey. This includes the establishment of a fully-pledged Embassy in 1983 and establishment of a Consulate Office in 1993, which subsequently upgraded to a Consulate General status in 1999. Over the period of 40 years, the cordial relations between the two countries which are based on mutual trust and understanding, have spread in all the spheres including trade, investment, tourism and economic cooperation.
The UAE is the largest export market for the Sri Lankan products in the Gulf region, ranking at number seven among Sri Lanka's export destinations. Being Sri Lanka's largest import partner in the region, it also ranks at number three in Sri Lanka's global import destinations. The total bilateral trade value has now reached new heights of $2 billion mark signifying the great trading relationship between the two countries. The contribution of the UAE in Sri Lanka's foreign direct investment and tourism sectors is also very significant.
The Consulate General of Sri Lanka is entrusted with the tasks of providing consular services for the large number of Sri Lankan expatriate community living in Dubai and Northern Emirates of the UAE, and also promoting bilateral trade, tourism, investment and economic relations. It is noted that the UAE, due to its conducive environment for employment, remains as one of the most desired employment destinations among the Sri Lankans. The contribution of this expatriate community to the betterment of Sri Lankan economy is highly commendable.
As we celebrate the 72nd Independence Day of our Motherland today, the new Government of Sri Lanka, under the leadership of His Excellency the President and Honourable Prime Minister and guided by His Excellency the President's manifesto, "Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour", is now progressing towards sustainable economic prosperity.
I am happy to note that the tourism industry, the country's third largest foreign exchange earner that brings around $4.4 billion foreign exchange annually, has come back to a progressive track in 2019. The country has begun to re-establish itself as a prime tourist destination while a number of international travel magazines and media have recommended Sri Lanka as the best tourist destination. These include, Sri Lanka featured as one of the top destinations to travel by Condé Nast Traveller Middle East in February 2020, Sri Lanka ranked among CNN Travel's 20 best places to visit in 2020, and Sri Lanka nominated as top destination for winter travel by USA Today, among many others.
In the above backdrop, the year 2020 will be a year of opportunity where the international community as well as Sri Lankan expatriates will get further opportunities to extend their contribution towards the development of Sri Lanka. I kindly request the Sri Lankan community living in the UAE to join hands with us to be a part of this success story.
On this special occasion, I wish to convey my sincere gratitude for the UAE Government headed by The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, all other Highnesses and Supreme Council Members of all the emirates, UAE government authorities and all well-wishers, for the generous cooperation extended to the Sri Lanka Consulate General to carry out its duties in Dubai.
I wish all the best for the Sri Lankans living in the UAE.
Happy Independence Day, Sri Lanka!
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