28th August 2017 10:35:25 Hours
Amid reverberating applause and hearty welcome, the curtains were raised this morning (28) at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) for conduct of the 7th ‘Colombo Defence Seminar - 2017’ sessions, the annual flagship project of the Sri Lanka Army with a record number of participants.
Preliminary inaugural sessions, comprised of colourful eye-catching aesthetic feats that symbolized ethnic communities of the country, showcased the tapestry of rich diversity and rhythmic beauty in Sri Lankan culture and her people as the opening ceremonials got underway after arrival of the Chief Guest HE the President Maithripala Sirisena, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, flanked by the driving force behind the whole arrangement, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army.
Lighting of the traditional oil lamp by HE the President, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and Minister of Regional Development, Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene (MP), State Minister of Defence, Mr. Austin Fernando, Secretary to HE the President, Mr. Kapila Waidyaratne, Secretary Defence, Admiral William J. Fallon (Retd) USN, Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah, Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy, heralded the formal commencement of the sessions with the welcome address delivered by the Commander of the Army.
The host of the Defence Seminar, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army extended a hearty welcome to the Chief Guest and all other participants and highlighted the importance of broadening horizons of knowledge among members of the armed forces.
Mr. Prasad Kariyawasam, Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Inspector General of Police, Mr Pujith Jayasundara, former Secretary of Defence, Past Commanders, Senior Army tri-service Officers and a host of dignitaries were present at the inaugural ceremony.
Here follows the full text of the Commander’s welcome speech;
“His Excellency, Maithripala Sirisena, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces,
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Minister of Regional Development,
State Minister of Defence, Honourable Ruwan Wijewardene,
Secretary to the President, Mr Austin Fernando,
Secretary of Defence, Mr. Kapila Waidyaratne,
Their Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners accredited to Sri Lanka,
Our Keynote Speaker, Admiral Willium J Fallon from the USA,
Zambian Army Commander Lieutenant General Paul Mihova,
11th Corps Commander of Pakistan Army, Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmed Butt,
Chief of Defence Staff to the Tri-services, Admiral Ravi Wejegunaratne,
Deputy Commander of Pacific Command. Major General Robert J Nobel,
Inspector General of Police, Mr. Pujith Jayasundare,
Eminent speakers and Chair Persons, other dignitaries,
Senior and Junior officers of Armed Forces and Police,
Distinguished invitees, media personal and journalists,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am indeed privileged and honoured to deliver this speech to welcome today’s Chief Guest His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and other dignitaries for their participation amidst all busy schedules. I am delighted to stand before this great audience that consists of dignitaries from countries across the globe, think tanks, intellectuals, academia, scholars and military officers in participation, having accepted our invitation for the event.
The ‘Colombo Defence Seminar’ is considered an attractive and lucrative platform to impart knowledge, share experiences and make interaction thus develop cordial friendship and relationship with our comrades of other armies. The Defence Seminar is indeed the brainchild of the Sri Lanka Army and initiated in the year 2011 with the intention of sharing experience and knowledge earned from a 3 decade long terrorist problem that was ended in 2009 after wipe-out of one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations that prevailed one time in the world. Subsequently, the organizing committees thought of moving-on by introducing further attractive themes that helped broaden the horizons of knowledge of participants.
As such, the Sri Lanka Army this time introduces a timely theme, that is ‘Countering Violent Extremism: Global trends’. Violence is perhaps one of the most challenging problems of our times. It doesn't matter anymore of which part of the world you live in. The unfortunate reality is that violence spurred by terrorism has gone global and every human being is equally susceptible and vulnerable to its ferocity.
The Sri Lanka Army is a proud military to have done its duty in liberating the motherland from the clutches of dreadful terrorism. This professionalism I believe, has enduring strategic utility. War's enduring nature is chaotic, violent and uncertain; a fundamentally human endeavour, but with its character constantly evolving. In this context, the Sri Lanka Army is concerned of restraining destructive re-emergence of violence on its shore, and the security of the region and Asia in general. Moreover, with first-hand experience in defeating terrorism and being in possession of a highly-trained professional outfit: a potent combination in the contemporary setting, the Sri Lanka Army earnestly aspires to engage in sharing its related security expertise in playing a vigorous role in influencing the security architecture of Asia and the region, and to strengthen regional integration in security ties.
I am proud to announce that we have the presence of prominent national and international scholars, think tanks and diplomats to engage in inspiring intellectual interaction to share with us their valuable ideas and experiences on the selected topics and also learned panelists for the syndicate discussions at the Colombo Defence Seminar 2017.
I take this opportunity to appreciatively make special mention that our successes down the line, including today’s effort would not have got off ground if not for the sanction of His Excellency the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Commander in Chief, and the unstinted consent of the Secretary Defence. I should also comment that, the battle-hardened Colombo Defence Seminar Committee had exerted their fortes to bring this event to reality and I am sure their prowess in organizing international events too of this magnitude will hold its glow.
To all of you, your support will surely add more inspiration to carry-out our tasks with extra vigour.
Once again, whilst extending my sincere gratitude to the Chief Guest, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Minister of Regional Development, All Governors, the State Minister of Defence, the Secretary to the President, the Secretary of Defence, Their Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners accredited to Sri Lanka, the Keynote Speaker, the Zambian Army Commander, the 11th Corps Commander of Pakistan Army, the Chief of Defence Staff to the Tri-services, the Deputy Commander of Pacific Command. Inspector General of Police, the eminent speakers and chair persons, other dignitaries, the Senior and Junior Officers of Armed Forces and Police, distinguished invitees, media personnel and journalists present here this morning for their participation amidst all their busy schedules.
Let me now respectfully invite the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence to address this dignified audience for the opening remarks. I should fail in my duty if I do not speak a few words about the Secretary of Defence Mr. Kapila Waidyaratne”.