- On 30 December, 2019
Commemorative stamp issued to mark the 60th anniversary of Sri Lanka-Nepal diplomatic relations
Remarks made by Ambassador Himalee Arunatilaka
Secretary to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology,
Director General of Postal Services Department,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to be here. My sincere thanks to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the Postal Services Department for the invitation to the launching of this joint stamp designed to mark the 60th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Nepal. I am very happy to see that the designer of this beautiful stamp is here too.
Formal diplomatic relations between our two countries were established in 1957. However, the cultural links and people to people contacts between our two countries go back much further.
I find it particularly significant that in commemorating this important milestone in our bilateral relations, we have chosen two sites of deep spiritual significance that truly represent the nature of the close bond between our peoples: Lumbini in Nepal and the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Sri Lanka.
Lumbini is the place where Prince Siddhartha Gauthama, who went on to attain Enlightenment, was born in 623 BC. Lumbini has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO and holds special significance to Buddhists the world over, including Sri Lanka.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa underlined the special place Nepal holds for Sri Lankans because of Lumbini, in acknowledging the congratulatory message of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli.
Sri Dalada Maligawa is the most sacred Buddhist Temple in Sri Lanka, located in Kandy, the hill capital of the island. Enshrined in the Temple is a Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which was brought to Sri Lanka in 4th century AD. This Temple is today revered by Buddhists the world over and has given the city of Kandy recognition by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
Buddhist links between Sri Lanka and Nepal were further strengthened in the first half of the 20th century when a delegation of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks came to Nepal and played a crucial role in reviving Theravada Buddhism here. This is a religious connection that runs deep to the present day, and many Nepali monks continue to travel to Sri Lanka to pursue Buddhist studies.
The religious thread weaving through the fabric of our bilateral relations is therefore very strong. Hence, choosing the Sri Dalada Maligawa and Lumbini for a commemorative stamp is entirely in keeping with the nature of our relations.
In more recent times, bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Nepal have expanded into other areas. Tourism, though still predominantly religious, has grown to include other attractions, and is increasing gradually. Trade has also shown marginal improvement, although much needs to be done to elevate it to satisfactory levels.
Cultural and people to people exchanges remain the mainstay of our bilateral links, with education and the services sector taking increasingly important positions in our economic cooperation.
Political relations have always been strong with high-level engagement between our leaders at regular intervals. Most recently in 2017, the Rt. Hon Bidya Devi Bandari, the President of Nepal visited Sri Lanka, as the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony of the UN Vesak Day celebrations in the historic city of Kandy; and former President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka visited Nepal in 2018.
Sri Lanka and Nepal are also members of SAARC and BIMST-EC and remain committed to intraregional cooperation. Similarly, the two countries hold similar views on global issues of common concern as well, such as climate change and terrorism. There are many areas of convergence between Sri Lanka and Nepal that can give impetus to expanding and promoting our bilateral relations further.
Sri Lanka and Nepal are both countries with long and proud histories. Our friendship is built on sincerity, trust and mutual respect. We must build on this strong foundation to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes in different sectors.
I congratulate the Postal Services Department of Nepal and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology for the successful issuance of this commemorative stamp marking 60 years of friendship between our two countries.
Thank you, 'Danyabad