In the framework of the reception, the Chief Guest Hon. Igor Morgulov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, presented Dr. Saman Weerasinghe, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Russia, with a token of appreciation at the request of Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, highlighting the distinguished and dedicated service of the Ambassador towards development of the bilateral relations between the two countries in various fields as the Head of the Diplomatic Mission in Moscow from September of 2015 to February of 2018.
The event gathered more than 175 guests among whom were officials of numerous Russian government authorities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, ambassadors and foreign diplomats, including Defence Attachés from Europe, SAARC, ASEAN and CIS countries, academics, representatives of Sri Lankan and Russian business sectors and tourism industries, and other agencies. The Sri Lankan side was also represented by Mr. Rohan Pethiyagoda, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board accompanied by an official delegation.
Before the main programme, the guests had an opportunity to visit an exhibition covering the history of Sri Lanka and its journey to independence, tourism and commercial potential of the country, Sri Lankan tea industry with the focus on Ceylon tea, as well as the visit of the President of Sri Lanka to Russia in March of 2017 and other activities carried out by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Russia over the past few years.
The main programme of the event included marvelous traditional Sri Lankan dance performances by the Channa-Upuli Performing Arts Foundation, one of the most famous dancing troupes in Sri Lanka, as well as astonishing live performances by the SOUL music group, whereas the focus of the event was set on creation of awareness on Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and promotion of Ceylon tea.
During the welcome speech, Dr. Saman Weerasinghe, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the Russian Federation, mentioned that “in regard to the human development, it is clear that the Sri Lankan progress, when compared to that of neighboring countries, is rapidly increasing and expanding onto more and more sectors”. At the same time, the Ambassador encouraged the audience to explore foreign relations most effectively, keeping in mind Sri Lanka’s shared interests and the principle of non-alignment. Dr. Saman Weerasinghe also extended the most sincere gratitude to the Russian Federation for the support and cooperation the country as well as great Russian people had been extending to Sri Lanka for the last 60 years as well as highlighted the flourishing nature of bilateral relations with the countries of co-current accreditation of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Russia, namely Moldova, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Armenia.
In addition, Dr. Saman Weerasinghe and Mr. Rohan Pethiyagoda presented a token of appreciation to Mr. Ramaz Chanturiya, Chairman of the Tea and Coffee Association of Russia, for his excellent service extended to the Sri Lankan tea trade sector, during the event.
The 70th Independence Day Gala Dinner Reception was acknowledged as a great success and became another remarkable event organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Russia with the sole aim of promotion of Sri Lanka and various directions of Sri Lanka-Russia cooperation.