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Sri Lanka - Russia: Growing Friendship

Sri Lanka remains a popular place of attraction for Russian travellers 


by Yury Materiy

On 12 June, Russia celebrates its major National Holiday – Russia Day. It is a great pleasure to congratulate all the compatriots who are fortunate to be in Sri Lanka as well as our Sri Lankan friends on this solemn occasion.

This day the Russian people, wherever they are, rejoice over strong patriotic sentiments and respect for the Fatherland, a country with a 1500-year-old history, unique legacy and culture, which has united a multitude of peoples, religions and languages.


We have been going through numerous critical times and severe trials. But our people met all challenges with dignity and honour. 12 June is a symbol of free and future-oriented Russia, successful development of its economy, improvement of social security, consolidation of the friendship of the peoples of the Russian Federation, utmost promotion of democracy, strengthening of its position on the international arena as well as of great victories and accomplishments of many generations of our predecessors. The aforesaid has laid the basis for the inviolable sovereignty of our State and established a reliable foundation for the protection of our national interests.

An important event in our recent history was the reunification of the Republic of Crimea with Russia following the democratic expression of will of the people of the peninsula at the referendum which was held on 16 March 2014. This year we celebrated the 5th anniversary of this landmark event for the Russian people.

The modern world is undergoing deep transformation. International relations become increasingly complex and unpredictable, accompanied by economic and political turbulence both on a global and on a regional scale. Hence the objective of Russian foreign policy is to contribute to the creation of sustainable world system based primarily on the equality of all participants and non-interference in internal affairs, while maintaining the supremacy of international law in the world arena, declaring full support for the United Nations’ decisions and avoiding their unilateral and arbitrary interpretation. The essence of the transformation should be in the creation of a multipolar system of international relations.

Russia is pursuing a multidimensional foreign-policy approach. We are open for cooperation on the principles of equality and respect for mutual interests. Now it is high time for collective, collaborative actions in order to find adequate solutions to common challenges. Russia has put much effort into the formation of flexible target-oriented alliances with its active involvement.

South Asia and Asia-Pacific region remains one of the key priorities of our foreign policy. Russia is not only a European but also an Asian country, due to its geographical position, history, cultural and religious links with the East, thus becoming a natural bridge between the East and the West.

Our country is a prominent member of regional multilateral and trans-regional associations such as the Eurasian Economic Union, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue. All these alliances represent the overwhelming majority of the globe and serve as a link between Europe and Asia, promoting economic cooperation with Asian partners.

One of our closest partners and friends in the South Asian region is the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on February 19, 1957. Our long-lasting ties, fruitful and extensive exchanges in different spheres take roots in shared multicultural, multinational and multi-religious landscape. Russia has always supported and backed Sri Lanka in all international fora. We have received similar support from Sri Lanka, and we value it a lot.

A milestone event in our relations was the first official visit of President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka H.E. Maithripala Sirisena to the Russian Federation in March 2017.

The establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation and its two sessions held in Moscow (February 2016) and Colombo (October 2017) are significant steps in development of our economic ties.

As of 2018 the Russian export to Sri Lanka increased by 24% in comparison with2017 and the bilateral trade between our countries reached 400 million US dollars. Russia continues to be the largest importer of Ceylon tea.

Since 2015 Russia and Sri Lanka have signed a number of bilateral agreements in various fields of cooperation such as fisheries, tourism, culture, space research and many others. Such a solid base of the legal framework of our bilateral relations has provided for a good opportunity to bring the Russian-Sri Lankan ties to a new level.

Sri Lanka remains a popular place of attraction for Russian travellers. In 2018 more than 64000 Russian tourists visited the Island. In October 2018 direct Colombo-Moscow flights by Aeroflot were re-established, which will greatly contribute to the development of our bilateral tourist ties.

Russia and Sri Lanka have always valued the importance of education for young men and women. Thousands of Sri Lankans obtained their degrees in various universities in Russia and the former Soviet Union. During the past six decades, Sri Lankans who have graduated from Soviet and Russian universities became researchers, doctors, and engineers. Thanks to the efforts of the Russian Cultural Centre in Colombo every year we expand the educational opportunities for Sri Lankans by increasing the number of scholarships.

Russia has been outraged by the inhuman terrorist attacks on April 21, 2019 and has extended its full support to the Sri Lankan Government. Allow me once again to express my heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families and convey wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded. The tragic events in Sri Lanka confirm the need to consolidate the efforts of the international community to fight international terrorism. We are ready to share our experience with Sri Lanka.

The time-tested nature of the friendly Russian–Sri Lankan ties and their current status makes me confident that our bilateral political contacts and the mutually beneficial cooperation in the trade, economic, educational and cultural spheres will continue expanding and developing for the benefit of our peoples.

The writer is the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka

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