The first LQA for 2017 was held at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) on Tuesday, 31st January 2017 marking the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Sri Lanka. Hailed as a milestone in bilateral relations, the LQA focused on the prospects and opportunities for the future. Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson and the Director General of East Asia and the Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ameer Ajwad discussed the contribution the two countries have made in a variety of fields, the achievements to date and the potential for further collaboration.
The Australian High Commissioner provided an overview of diplomatic relations from the time Australia sent Charles Frost to Colombo in 1947, through to the current phase of cooperation. He outlined commonalities between the two countries, noting that parliamentary democracy, commonwealth heritage and cricket were some of the strongest bonds. While the fields of education and skills development had seen greater cooperation, the Australian High Commissioner stressed that people-to-people contacts remained the bedrock of relations between the two countries. Sri Lankans continue to contribute immensely to Australian society in varying capacities enhancing the links with Sri Lanka.
Mr Ameer Ajwad highlighted the first contacts between the two countries as dating back to the 1800s when Ceylonese had made their first foray into Australia. This grew in the ensuing decades leading to the establishment of diplomatic relations and has been strengthened by consecutive governments in both countries. The Director General pointed out that the first Senior Official Talks between Australia and Sri Lanka in December 2015 had paved the way for further expanding areas of cooperation and ensuring a comprehensive outlook for the future.
Local and foreign participants from an array of fields of study and professions joined the LQA, with the dialogue generated at the session focused on Australia’s role in the pacific region, bilateral connectivity and regional cooperation as well as Australia’s continued support to Sri Lanka on national reconciliation and other fields.
Geared towards building awareness of issues in the field of International Relations, the LQA series of the BCIS creates a platform for dialogue in society for those interested in the sphere.
Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies
02 February 2017