The Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane extended his gratitude to the government of South Korea for donating USD 3 million worth of PCR test kits to be used in Sri Lanka and the Korean Embassy declaring the ‘Stay Strong’ campaign to strengthen Sri Lanka’s anti-COVID campaign.
The Speaker said collaborations of each other reminds that international cooperation is a very strong mechanism to reduce the impact of an international crisis. He said this while addressing formation ceremony of the Sri Lanka – Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association in Parliament on Thursday, January 7.
Mr. Woonjin JEONG, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea and several Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers and Members of Parliament took part in the meeting which was presided over by the Speaker and Dammika Dassanayake, the Secretary General of Parliament.
The South Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association was established in 1984 even before opening up a residential embassy of Sri Lanka in Seoul in 1987. It goes down in history as the first Parliamentary Friendship Association established in Sri Lanka Parliament. The Speaker in his opening remarks warmly welcomed the Ambassador and the Members of the Parliament on behalf of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
“At the outset, I wish to awake your memories on the diplomatic relations established between our two countries. Before the commencement of the formal diplomatic relations by establishing an Embassy with a resident Ambassador for South Korea in Colombo in 1977, there have been many instances to substantiate our deep-rooted friendship. I am pleased to mention that the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea has already been celebrated the 43rd anniversary on 8th December 2020,” the Speaker said.
“This Association was inaugurated in 1984 when Hon. E. L. Senanayake was the Speaker of Parliament of Sri Lanka and the senior Parliamentarians as the Hon. Ranil Wickramasinhge, the late Hon. Dharmasiri Senenayake, the late Hon. Norman Waidyarathna have held the presidency of the Association which attests the strength of this Friendship Association,” he also said
“I am delighted to learn that the Speaker of Republic of Korea has initiated to form the Inter Parliamentary Diplomacy Forum between Parliamentarians of South Korea and selected countries of South Asia in July 2019 and the Sri Lanka – South Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association is one of the initial members of this Forum,” the Speaker highlighted.
“I must not forget to extend my sincere appreciation for the employment opportunities provided to Sri Lankan expatriate labour force. Around 24,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers live and work in South Korea contributing to the economic advancement of both countries. The total remittances from the Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Republic of Korea in 2019 were approximately US Dollars 520 million and their contribution to the Sri Lankan economy is vital,” the Speaker added.
“Excellent bi-lateral relations between the two countries are marked by regular exchanges of high-level visits over the years. I would like to recall the official visit of H.E. Chung Hong-won, Prime Minister of South Korea to Sri Lanka in August 2013 and the State visits made by our former President to Korea in November 2017, which strengthened the relations of the two countries. I hope there will be many more bilateral as well as study visits between the two countries at the legislative level with the dying down of the impact of COVID 19 pandemic,” the Speaker also said.
While addressing the gathering, the Ambassador Woonjin JEONG said that South Korea and Sri Lanka will work together to face the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic in the futures as well.
“I am honored to say that this is one of the oldest Parliament Friendship Associations in the world. We have longstanding bi lateral ties and it will grow and thrive in the future,” the Ambassador said.