More than 63 countries in the world have been invited to attend the three-day ‘Defence Seminar - 2012’ in Colombo with a view to sharing and discussing post-conflict experiences on the road to recovery and reconciliatory moves, designed for long-lasting peace and stability, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Army told a media conference at Army Headquarters Wednesday (11) evening.
‘Like any other Army in the world, we, in the Army as directed by the government have thrown our full weight behind the country’s post-conflict recovery machine and infrastructure development tasks and roles. It has been amply proved that our commitment for any development project could perform comparatively much faster and more effective than any other civil organization could do. Everywhere in the world, the armies play a vital role in post-conflict situations and Sri Lanka remains no exception’, the Commander remarked in response to a media query on the present day roles and tasks.
Final arrangements are now in progress to hold the Army-initiated international ‘Defence Seminar - 2012’, titled ‘Towards Lasting Peace and Stability’ from August 08-10, 2012 at Colombo Galadari Hotel and it is focused on the thematic 5Rs (Reconstruction, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reintegration, Reconciliation) in post-conflict Sri Lanka, Lieutenant General Jayasuriya explained at the outset of the briefing.
The Army Chief, expressing the belief that the scheduled seminar would be a huge success, considering the positive responses, the Army has so far received, said that countries, like the US, UK, China and many others have so far confirmed their participation in the sessions. ‘Some countries are working closely to send their high level senior state officials to the forum', the Commander said.
The Press briefing followed presentation of symbolic sponsorship cheques by representatives of main co-sponsors of the event to the Commander of the Army.
Mr Greg Yung, Chief Executive Officer in Sri Lanka Telecom, Ms Chanthal Samarasinghe, Promotions Manager, Sri Lankan Airlines, Mr Sithendra Senarathne, Chief Executive Officer, Ceylon Leather Products, respectively handed over their token cheques to the Commander soon after the Commander’s interaction with the Media.
Responding to another question, the Commander commented that troops in the Jaffna peninsula remain confined to their military formations, performing their routine legitimate duties, similar to the roles and tasks of any other Army. ‘No one can challenge or dispute the right of the Army to be serving anywhere in the country. It is their prerogative and area of responsibility. The public in Jaffna overwhelmingly support the Army presence and they know very well it is the Army who will come to their help in the event of any emergency. I don’t think the Jaffna public would ever dare to allow the Army to move out in any case,’ the Commander quipped.
The three-day ‘Defence Seminar - 2012’, slated to open, share and discuss a wide range of strategic and conceptual innovations and infrastructure issues, directly related to Sri Lanka’s post-conflict 5Rs and development, in the context of both regional and global scenario, is to be addressed by erudite scholars, administrators, military leaders and renowned experts of national and international fame.
Three-day deliberations are designed to dwell exclusively on Reconstruction and Resettlement (Day 1), Rehabilitation and Reintegration (Day 2) and Reconciliation (Day 3) spheres, highlighting the Army’s evolution to be effective peace builders from that of the role of most effective warriors in the past 3 years.
Over 22 speakers, including intellectuals, bureaucrats and military officers are scheduled to share their views, learn and adapt experiences, explore ways and means for applicability of new technologies for development, promote economic revival and reconciliatory moves for long-lasting peace and stability, etc during these sessions.
Guest speakers from the UK, US, India, Pakistan as well as Mr Lalith Weeratunge, Secretary to President, Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, Mr Basil Rajapaksa, Hon Minister of Economic Development, Mr Mahinda Samarasinghe, Hon Minister of Plantations, Dr Rajeev Wijesinghe (MP), Dr Ajith Nivard Cabral, Governor for Central Bank, Mr S.B. Divaratne, Secretary, Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security in the Northern Province, Mrs Imelda Sukumar, Additional Secretary, Presidential Secretariat and former District Secretary for Jaffna, Dr Malkanthi Hettiarachchi, Dr M. Safras, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Army, Major General M. Hathurusinghe, Commander, Security Forces Headquarters-Jaffna, Major General G.D.H.K. Gunaratne, Adjutant General, Major General S. Ranasinghe, Major General A.W.J.C. De Silva, Colonel Commandant, Sri Lanka Engineers and Brigadier D.D.U.K. Hettiarachchi, Commissioner General Rehabilitation, are among the invitees, scheduled to contribute to the seminar sessions.
Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence and Urban Development is to deliver the keynote address during the inaugural sessions.
By Tuesday (10), a total of 24 representatives from 14 countries have already confirmed their participation in the deliberations. In addition, a few more dozens of other foreign destinations are in close contact with the Army for onward arrangements.
Sri Lanka Army in the year 2011 successfully conducted the first-ever ‘Defence Seminar’ upon eradication of terrorism and set forth the factual background and operational context of the humanitarian operations. Over 94 delegates from 41 countries participated in the inaugural seminar at Colombo.
This forum, a novel feature came to the fore in 2011 as a conceptual notion of the Secretary Defence and Urban Development and was entrusted to the Commander of the Army for its annual implementation with the objective of overcoming challenges on the road to Sri Lanka’s recovery, durable peace and stability.