The annual International Maritime Conference ‘Galle Dialogue 2017’, organised by the Sri Lanka Navy under the patronage of the Ministry of Defence, commenced in Colombo on Monday with the participation of 51 countries.
Local and foreign scholars and experts in naval and maritime affairs representing 51 countries including India, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, along with 12 international organisations, are taking part in this year’s conference, the Navy media unit said.
Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and delivered the keynote address at the inaugural session. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was the Guest of Honour. Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah made the opening remarks.
The purpose of the two-day dialogue held under the theme ‘Greater Maritime Visibility for Enhanced Maritime Security’ is to provide a common platform for stakeholders of national and international repute to discuss and deliberate over maritime-related issues.
Delivering the keynote address, State Minister Wijewardene said that maritime stakeholders must focus their attention on greater maritime visibility for enhanced maritime security cooperation with friendly nations.
“The maritime domain and its affairs today have become one of the crucial factors that have the ability to decide and influence the present as well as future affairs to a greater extent,” he added.
“Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indo-Asia Pacific region is fast becoming the centre of gravity in world affairs. Fortified with the advantage of this unique position in the Indian Ocean, we are looking at the future with great expectations to regain our maritime glory in the Indian Ocean by promoting mainly trade and tourism,” he noted.
The State Minister added that the principal conditions affecting the sea power of nations are primarily their geographical position, their size and extent of coastline; the quantity of their sea-borne trade and the threat to it; maritime ambitions of their neighbors; and finally the number and determination of their population and the understanding and resolve of their leaders and Government.
“It is time a consensus is established on cooperation amongst states to share information in creating the finest real-time picture of what goes on in the oceans of the world,” Wijewardene said.
“As no nation is capable of addressing challenges and threats in the maritime domain in isolation, we too seek cooperation and assistance from all nations to ensure that the Indian Ocean is kept free from all threats and challenges,” he stressed.
The ‘Galle Dialogue’ was first held in 2010 with the participation of a number of international and local professionals representing the maritime fraternity.
Illegal maritime activities such as the proliferation of arms, piracy, human trafficking, maritime terrorism and narcotics trafficking in the Indian Ocean threaten the stability in the region and pose a great threat to sea lines of communication and the Sri Lanka Navy has played an enormous role for nearly two decades to defeat maritime terrorism and further strengthened the maritime security and safety of sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean region.