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Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne, Executive Director of LKI, delivered a lecture on 19 January 2018 on the “Role of Sri Lanka in South Asia and Beyond: Emerging New Contours” at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), a leading think tank in New Delhi under the Ministry of External Affairs in India.
The lecture was delivered at the invitation of Dr. Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General of RIS, and with the distinguished participation of H.E. Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India. It was attended by senior diplomats and public officials, as well as representatives of think tanks, the media, and private sector.
In her lecture, Dr. Panditaratne observed that Sri Lanka’s foreign relations have generally adopted a South Asian geographic identity; focused on political diplomacy; been strategically non-aligned; and sought to demonstrate global citizenship by following international norms. Dr. Panditaratne’s presentation highlighted small but discernible shifts in each of these four characteristics.
In particular, she discussed how and why Sri Lanka is (i) rebranding its geographic position as a centre of the Indian Ocean; (ii) focusing on economic diplomacy; (iii) cautiously but more actively engaging with regional powers; and (iv) playing a greater role in shaping, and not only following, normative frameworks.
She noted that these four developments pursued in combination, will elevate Sri Lanka’s standing and economy, while strengthening its neighbourhood relationships. Dr. Panditaratne also noted the experiences of successful smaller states like Singapore, the Netherlands and New Zealand, as instructive for Sri Lanka in this regard.
Download the full text of Dr. Panditaratne’s remarks below and access the accompanying presentation* from the lecture here.
*Amended version, including sources of graphs.