Asian Tribune – Sri Lankan Cultural Evening at the Berlin International Economics Congress 2013
Sri Lanka Cultural Evening at the Berlin International Economic Congress 2013
From 6th to 10th March, the Berlin International Economics Congress 2013 organized by the renowned Institute of Cultural Diplomacy (ICD), an international organization with headquarters in Berlin with the focus on the promotion of international understanding by cultural exchange, took place under the motto of “Intercultural Relations, Youth Development Advancement, Environmental Responsibility & Ecotourism: Opportunities for Successful Nation Branding in the 21st Century”.
Keynote Speakers from all continents were discussing a better future for their countries and the world.
On the evening of the 7th March, a Sri Lanka Cultural Evening organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka took place in the framework of the Congress. The keynote speech was delivered by Ambassador Upali Sarrath Kongahage. Mr. Rumy Jauffer, Managing Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, and Deepal V.Perera, Sri Lankan Airlines, made presentations. The event was opened by Hang Nguyen, Secretary General of the Diplomatic Council, an international Think Tank headquartered in The Hague.
In his keynote speech, Ambassador Kongahage highlighted that Sri Lanka has a written history of more than 2000 years. The Ambassador further elaborated the multitude of historic links between Sri Lanka and Europe. He mentioned that Sri Lanka and Germany are celebrating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2013. “As Sri Lanka once again takes its rightful place in South Asia after suffering of decades of terrorism on the world stage, both in terms of its economic potential and political profile, we want the world to take note of what is being accomplished in the country, and the hand of friendship, support and understanding to be extended to our people,” the Ambassador said. “This will enable our nation to march forward, complementing the efforts of the rest of the world and contributing towards economic, social and political advancement on the basis of our vibrant democracy.”
Rumy Jauffer, Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, highlighted the potential of tourism in Sri Lanka. He mentioned that tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka crossed the 1-Million-mark in 2012 with German tourists ranked third. He further said that the island still has a great potential with all parts of the island included the North and East of the country now being accessible and developed as tourism destinations. He invited all present to visit Sri Lanka in the near future.
Deepal V. Perera, Manager Media Relations of Sri Lankan Airlines, detailed the history of the national carrier of Sri Lanka. He highlighted the function of Sri Lanka as a trade hub in the Indian Ocean as well as tourism destination. He proudly announced the opening of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota as second international airport in Sri Lanka on 18th March and explained that tourists could reach many exciting destinations on the Southern Coast, including the old city of Galle and the Uduwalawe National Park, from there.
The keynote speeches were accompanied by cultural presentations of Sri Lankan traditional dances. Almut Jayawera, a German national, who studied the Kandiyan dance in Sri Lanka, presented Kandiyan dance and explained the symbolic of the dance to the audience in Sinhala and German languages. Anjali Dissanayake, Malki Gamage and Romessi Silva performed a folk dance, which enthralled the audience, and the Bharatha Natyam by two identical sisters received the admiration and applause of the spectators.
Mr. Mark Donfried, President and Founder of the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy, in his remarks thanked Ambassador Kongahage for organizing such a fascinating show of Sri Lankan culture as a part of the Berlin International Economic Congress. He described the keynote speech of the Ambassador and the presentations as both enlightening and informative. He further said that on this evening every participant had had the chance to become an expert on Sri Lanka. He mentioned the appearance of the Sri Lankan dancers as a true piece of cultural diplomacy.
A large crowd of guests from culture, business and diplomacy was present throughout the event, among them Hans B. Sicat, President & CEO of The Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc., and Lord Jack McConnell, Member of the House of Lords and Former First Minister of Scotland.