Past Press releases (2015 - 2017)

The Global Ceylon Tea Party - Paris

The 150th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s tea industry was celebrated in Paris under the world renowned brand of ‘Ceylon Tea’ at the ‘Global Ceylon Tea Party’ held on 6th of July, 2017 at 5.00 pm at the official residence of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to France.  The focus of this event was to promote the Ceylon Tea Brand internationally and to celebrate this historic occasion with local stakeholders. 

The Global Tea Party was attended by tea traders, representatives from embassies of tea buying countries based in Paris, Ceylon tea lovers from various organizations, as well as the Sri Lanka Embassy staff.

H.E. Tilak Ranaviraja, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO delivered a speech at the occasion, highlighting the important facts and history of the Sri Lankan Tea industry and the purpose of conducting this unique 24-hour ‘Global Ceylon Tea Party’ in every time zone to promote Ceylon Tea world-wide.

Mr. Shanka Opatha, Founder and Representative, of ‘Imperial Teas’, who was the main sponsor of the event also delivered a speech in French, sharing his company’s experience in promoting Ceylon Tea in various markets.  He also described the seven regional teas and conducted a demonstration by brewing the different varieties and highlighting the unique features and flavors and providing an opportunity to taste the regional teas.  This was followed by a question and answer session with wonderful participation from the audience.

Thereafter, all the guests were served with their choice of a regionally flavored tea, accompanied by  early grey and ginger biscuits uniquely made for the occasion by Maliban featuring the logo ‘Ceylon Tea is 150 Years’, as well as an assortment of hor d’oeuvres, french pastries, and cup cakes.  

The guests also received a gift bag with samples of the seven regional teas, promotional material, and special tea from ‘Imperial Teas’. 

After the Global Tea Party H.E. the Ambassador invited all the guests for a reception featuring a buffet dinner.  The Global Tea Party event in Paris was a great success. 


Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja and Mrs. Ranaviraja attended the official celebration of the Portuguese National Day, Dia de Portugal, de Camoes e das Comunidades Portuguesas.

They attended a ceremony of greetings to the Head of State at the Paco Episcopal, which was followed by a concert and a reception at the Oporto Cathedral, organized by the Mayor of Oporto and presided by His Excellency the President of the Portuguese Republic.

A military parade was held on 10th of June 2017 at Avenida do Brasil at Oporto. Heads of Mission were also present.

03. Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris celebrates the 69 Anniversary of Independence

Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris celebrates the 69 Anniversary of Independence on the theme of national unity and reconciliation 

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris celebrated the 69th Anniversary of the Independence on 4th February 2017 at Espace Saint Pierre in Paris with the participation of over 550 invitees from the Sri Lankan community representing all ethnicities. 

Staying true to the spirit of reconciliation, the national anthem was sung in both Sinhala and Tamil by two groups of students followed by a two minute silence for all Sri Lankans who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of the country. The traditional oil lamp was lit by Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja and a group of children representing the four main ethnicities in Sri Lanka; Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher. Religious dignitaries from all faiths invoked blessings on the President, Government and all    Sri Lankans living all over the world and for durable peace in the country. As customary, the national day messages of President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera were read out by Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja and members of the staff. 

Ambassador Ranaviraja in his remarks highlighted the importance of national unity for advancing meaningful reconciliation and economic development which are also the policy priorities of the Government. In this context, he invited the Sri Lankan community living in France to join in the development process of the country.

Cultural performances featuring different dancing traditions of the country to display its rich cultural heritage made the event more vibrant. Guests  were treated to a traditional Sri Lankan meal consisting of rice and curry at the end of the event.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka
6th February 2017

04. New Year greetings to President François Hollande

At a reception hosted by President François Hollande to exchange greetings with the Diplomatic corps  in the New Year on 12 January 2017 at the Presidential palace, Palais de l’Elysée, Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja conveyed the best wishes of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe to the French President. During the brief exchange of pleasantries, Ambassador Ranaviraja thanked the French President for the support extended by France for the lifting of the EU fisheries ban and the reinstating of the GSP+ scheme. In response, President Hollande acknowledged the progressive developments underway in Sri Lanka and the positive attention gained by the Government of Sri Lanka in re-engaging with the international community. 

The Embassy of Sri Lanka

19 January 2017  

05. Open Government Partnership Summit

Advancing Open Government Values; Contributory factor for Good Governance and Sustainable Development of Sri Lanka - Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, at the “Open Government Partnership Summit”, Paris 2016 


The Open Government Partnership Global Summit convened in Paris from 7th to 9th December 2016, with the participation of over 80 governments and hundreds of civil society organizations around the world.  Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs representing Sri Lanka at the Summit and in the subsequent Ministerial round-tables highlighted the importance of building trust in Government – through advancing OGP values.  Minister Samaraweera, commented on many of the far-reaching state reforms undertaken and the consultative processes underway on key policy initiatives of the government thereby capturing the diversity of various viewpoints and interests to uphold the vision of the transparent, inclusive and participatory governance.

Sri Lanka became a signatory to the Paris Declaration for Open Government Partnership; Collective Action for renewal of our democracies launched at the end of the Summit in singing up to country specific commitments and pledged solidarity to take concrete measures to move forward the process.  Sri Lanka is also a signatory to the London Declaration of the London  Anti- Corruption Summit and has taken a range of domestic measures to strengthen legal and institutional measures to combat corruption.  Sri Lanka became a member of the “Open Government Partnership” in 2015.

Along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja, Mr Harim Peiris, Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Ministry officials and Embassy officials comprised the delegation of Sri Lanka to the Paris Summit.  

Embassy of Sri Lanka 

16th December 2016 

06. French Travel Agents Congress (Les Entreprises du Voyage) in Sri Lanka, from 31st October to 04th November 2016

The French Travel Agents Congress was convened in Colombo from 31st October to 04th November 2016 and over 300 Travel Agents attended this event along with local tourism stakeholders. It is also the second time in 15 years that this event had been held in Asia.  The Inaugural Session was held at the BMICH attended by Dr Sarath Amunugama as special Representative of HE the President.  It was revealed during the congress that Sri Lanka is now once again in the top 20 out-bound travel destinations of France and it was highlighted that Sri Lanka will be named the ‘destination to travel for 2017’ for French Travelers. ‘Our common goal is to re-establish Sri Lanka as a prime destination in the Indian Ocean for French travellers’,  LEV President Jean-Pierre Mas said at the inauguration. Mas also noted that the French travel professionals have no worry over Sri Lanka’s quality of product, safety and stability for tourism. His endorsement comes at a time when security concerns are on the rise at popular tourism destinations across Europe and the Middle East.

The inaugural evening was made more memorable with a touch of glamour, through a performance by the Channa – Upuli dance troupe, blending different Sri Lankan dance styles with modern and traditional music accompaniment. 

Madam Martine Pinville, State Minister for Commerce and Small- Scale Industry, Consumer Affairs and Socio- Economy of France Tourism was the special guest representing the French Travel Agents at this event. During her stay in Colombo meetings were arranged for Madam Pinville to meet with Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera and Tourism Minister John Amaratunga to discuss matters of bilateral importance including trade, investment and tourism promotion.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Chief Guest at the official dinner to welcome the French travel agents and the French Minister of Tourism, Madam Martine Pinville attending the LEV Congress in Colombo. The dinner was held at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. The French travel agents had the exclusive opportunity to taste the authentic food specially prepared to give them a taste of Sri Lanka.

At a press briefing held at the end of the Congress, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said by hosting the LEV 2016 Congress, Sri Lanka wishes to open its full tourism potential to the French market in the coming years, speaking at the press briefing LEV Vice President Richard Soubielle explained the potential for French tourists to visit Sri Lanka. During their stay the participants took a specially booked train to Habarana from Fort railway station on a sightseeing tour organized by the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau. They also visited Negombo, and Sigiriya with excursions to the cultural triangle in Sri Lanka. 

Created in 1944, LEV  previously known as SNAV is a professional organization, it has a membership of 1400 state approved travel agencies and tour operators of France representing more than 5,000 sales points in the country with the objective of attaining economic and social sustainability of the industry.  LEV travel agencies network with major associations of institutional tourism and is a permanent member of ECTAA (European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations).

Hosting the event is a significant landmark for Sri Lanka. French tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka stand at approx 87,000 for the year 2015, having moved up from 16,905 in 2009.  So far this year, an overall growth of 13% have been projected with a target of 100,000 by the end of the year. France has the potential of generating more than 300,000 tourists to Sri Lanka and this event will be a major catalyst in attracting the French travellers who are interested not only in leisure tourism but in the MICE segment, adventure tourism and other themes of attractions promoted by Sri Lanka.

During this event a considerable number of French travel agents had the opportunity to experience Sri Lanka for themselves and to become familiar with the country.   France has emerged as the fifth largest sourcing market for Sri Lankan tourism and the congress gave an opportunity to showcase the country to a large number of French travel agents. France generates the highest number of incentive travellers from all of Europe to Sri Lankan tourist industry. According to available statistics incentive travellers spend at least three times more than leisure travellers.  Along with this promotional event, Sri Lanka will bilaterally engage with French authorities in developing and branding the country as a destination in the western hemisphere. 

The exposure gained at this Congress will have a spillover effect in many other fields in the country and will further consolidate and strengthen the relationship between the people of Sri Lanka and France. Initiated by the Commercial Section of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris, the official campaign to bring SNAV Congress to Sri Lanka was spearheaded by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in France, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Christian Affairs and Land and the Industry authorities and Sri Lankan Airlines. 
Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja and Commercial Counsellor, Mr. Alexi Gunasekera were present during the Congress and closely coordinated the visit of Madam Martine Pinville and other related events in ensuring the success of the Congress.

Embassy of Sri Lanka 
09th November 2016      


07. 200th Session of the Executive Board, UNESCO


Director General, UNESCO Irina Bokova appreciates the Government of Sri Lanka for the progressive development made in advancing reconciliation

Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Minister of Education and Representative of Sri Lanka to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Tilak Ranaviraja represented Sri Lanka at the 200 session of its Executive Board from 7 to 10 October 2016 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.


Addressing the plenary session of the Board, Minister Kariyawasam reiterated the progressive advancements made by Sri Lanka in the fields of education, culture, science with a special focus on the efforts taken to mitigating climate change and achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this respect, he highlighted that Sri Lanka is the first country in the region to establish a Ministry dedicated for Sustainable Development and is currently the Chair of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. Further, Minister Kariyawasam added that a National Sustainable Development Act in conformity with the SDGs will be tabled in the Parliament within the coming weeks to facilitate a national policy in this regard.

Speaking on the education sector,  Minister Kariyawasam underlined initiatives taken by Sri Lanka as a champion of free, universal education to implement SDG goal 4, ‘Education for all’ including the proposed introduction of 13 years of compulsory schooling to ensure that no child is left behind.  On behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, Tilak Ranaviraja, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO thanked the Director General Irina Bokova for visiting Sri Lanka. 

In response, the Director General while appreciating the excellent arrangements made for her visit lauded the Government of Sri Lanka for the progressive developments made in advancing reconciliation during a short span of time as a country recovering from an internal conflict. 

A retreat for delegates attending the Executive Board was arranged on the sidelines of the 200 session on 8 and 9 October at Château de Chantilly to provide a platform to deliberate on the future direction of the Organization and its priority where Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of UNESCO to Sri Lanka, Tilak Ranaviraja represented the Minister.

The Executive Board, which is one of the two main governing bodies of UNESCO is instrumental in the decision making process and steering the organization forward. Sri Lanka was elected as a member of the Executive Board at the 38 session of the General Conference of UNESCO in 2015 receiving 149 out of 186 votes as part of Government’s policy to increase engagement with international organizations.

Minister was accompanied by Deputy Chief of Mission Shobini Gunasekera, Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Dhammika Wijayasinghe, Second Secretary of the Embassy Ruvini Munidasa, Chitrani Fernando and A.R. Karunaratne from the Ministry of Education.


The Embassy of Sri Lanka    
11 October 2016


08. Sri Lanka Exports Marketed at SIAL Paris – An exceptional event at the very heart of the Agribusiness World

SIAL Paris, 2016 one of the largest consumer Fairs in Europe, convened in France from 16th to 20th October 2016, attracted a large number of exporters from Sri Lankan prompting them to seek a wider market for their products mainly in the West.  More than 6,500 French and international exhibitors from 105 countries displayed their food products at SIAL Paris, ranging from ingredients to processed products, including fresh produce.

inaugural day of the exhibition Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja along with the Mr Alexi Gunasekera, Commercial Counsellor networked with the participants in discussing strategies to maximize Sri Lanka’s efforts in increasing the volume of its current exports.   As a catalyst to these efforts, the Embassy arranged for meetings for Sri Lanka officials on the sidelines of the Fair, to meet with Business France, Chamber of Commerce and Industries Paris and the France Tea Association focusing the discussions on enhancing cooperation in trade and investment. 

Sri Lanka pavilion attracted the world’s premier brand ‘Ceylon Tea ‘with popular labels on display.  The visitors to the exhibition were fascinated with the value added teas such as earl gray, lemon, apple, peach, mango, strawberry, mint etc and spice flavors such as cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.  Besides this, the opportunity was given for the visitors to taste the distinct flavor of ‘Ceylon Tea’ from 7 regions of Sri Lanka in the ‘Tea Board’stand.

A wide variety of coconut products from Sri Lanka was also on display.   Participating at SIAL presented a comprehensive opportunity to the coconut products exporters to get a detailed analysis of the market, its dynamics, structure, characteristics, main players, and growth and demand drivers.  Market research confirms that refined coconut oil enjoys a high demand in France and other developed countries, with its diverse applications as a health product and in the cosmetics industry.  The demand especially for virgin coconut oil and coconut, water has substantially improved in the French market and across Europe. 

Sri Lanka has been participating in this bi-annual fair continuously with many positive outcomes. In 2016, Sri Lanka’s participation numbered 30 enterprises/companies and a diverse exports basket   ranging from spices confectionaries, rice etc. apart from tea and coconut.  A large number of companies being present elevated the level of the country giving wide publicity. Sri Lanka exports to France stood at Euro 292 million according to French Customs statistics in 2015.

The companies represented with the Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Tea Board and the Coconut Development Authority  included  Adamexpo, Expolanka ( PVT) Ltd, Nestle Lanka PLC, Ceylon Biscuits Ltd, Renuka Agri Foods PLC, Consolidated Business Systems (PVT) Ltd, HJS Condiments Limited, Jayakody Natural Products,  Expolanka teas ( PVT) Ltd, Hero Nature Products (PVT) ltd, Grupo Canela ( PVT) Ltd, Tradlanka Agricultural Enterprises ( PVT) Ltd, Lanka Spices PVT Limited, Unitrades ( PVT) Ltd, Grand Emporium of Tea & Herb ( PVT) Ltd, Ceylon Tea Land ( PVT) Ltd, Euro Asia Co- Operation ( PVT) Ltd, Uva Halpewatte Estates (PVT) Ltd, Sri Lanka Tea Board,  Ceylon Coconut Company, Heritage Lanka Virgin Coconut Oil, NMK Agro Industries (PVT) Ltd, VSS Products ( PVT) Ltd and Abey Marine ( PVT) Ltd.  There were more than ten other individual companies participating at the fair displaying an array of Sri Lankan food products. 

The Embassy of Sri Lanka together with the Export Development, Board Tea Board and Coconut Development Authority had information booths setup in the fair in which the publicity material were displayed and distributed to the business visitors.  
SIAL Paris also known as the “largest supermarket in the world” – covering  27 hectares (the equivalent of 100 supermarkets), allows 5 intense days of engagement entirely dedicated to discovering products and trends, and the facilitating of meetings between producers and buyers from around the world. It also creates a platform for discussion and debate about industry challenges: sustainable food, zero waste, allergies, connected food.

Along with H E the Ambassdor and Commercial Counsellor, Chairman Cocoanut Development Authority, Darshana Perera, Director Export Development Board and Gayan Samaraweera of the Tea Board coordinated the Sri Lanka Participation at the Event.

Embassy of Sri Lanka


20th October 2016


09. Sri Lanka featured as a tourism hotspot at IFTM Top Resa Travel Fair in France, 2016

At the heart of the tourism capital in Paris, the 38th edition of the International French Travel Market (IFTM) Top Resa, France’s leading international B2B tourism exhibition was held from 20th to 23rd September 2016 with much colour and fanfare.  Sri Lanka tourism authorities supported by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris and the Travel Agents participated in this annual event which held much significance and promise for the country this year, due to the forthcoming French Travel Agents Congress (Les Entreprises du Voyage) to be convened in Sri Lanka from 30th October to 5th November, 2016.  This prestigious event which will be able to congregate over 400 travel agents from France to the country will be a catalyst and a stepping stone for attracting in numbers the French traveller to Sri Lanka, in the years to come.

Minister of Tourism, Christian Affairs and Lands, John Amaratunga, participated in the inauguration of the Fair as the guest of honour, along with Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad of the French Republic who was the Chief Guest.  The Sri Lanka Pavilion displaying the eight themes of promotion added colour to the structure with replicas of the Asian elephant and the dolphin and served Ceylon tea attracting a large crowd of visitors.  State Minister Fekl visited the Sri Lanka pavilion and witnessed the eye-catching dance performances portraying the traditions and the culture the island offered to the world.  Over 20 travel agents from Sri Lanka participated this year, showcasing their specialties.  IFTM Top Resa is the must attend and only event in the French market covering all grounds of travel, which include leisure, business, travel, groups & MICE.  

  The series of events for the Sri Lanka travel trade in Paris kicked off with a pre-promotional campaign organized in view of the French Travel Congress to be later convened in Colombo. This event was held in Salon Hoche, a plush location in Paris. The travel agents attending the congress, journalists, reporters and many others involved in the industry graced this occasion which captured the essence of Sri Lanka tourism in a fitting ambiance including a formal segment of presentations and speeches.  

 On the sidelines of the tourism fair, the Minister of Tourism, Mr P M Withana, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism and Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja along with Embassy officials had a meeting with the Bureau of Tourism in the Cabinet of State Minister Fekl, to obtain expertise and technical assistance for Tourism Master Plan Development in Sri Lanka and to enhance the final product value.  The French authorities were open to discuss a policy level initiative with Sri Lanka in further consolidating the bilateral partnership between the two countries. 

Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja, in further adding to the very positive atmosphere organized a networking dinner for the industry representatives at his residence towards the end of the travel mart, which enabled the representatives to interact better with their counterparts.

On the sidelines of Top Resa, Sri Lanka also participated in “Fete de la Gastranomie” a culinary fair in the banks of the river Seine along with 37 other countries in a display of the spice infused delectable cuisine of the country.  At the show was an ample spread of a variety of food from all over the world with culinary craftsmen creating elements of shared heritage and aiming to spotlight gastronomy in all its many and diverse forms.  

Ms Sarangi Thilakasena, Assistant Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Ms Achini Dandunnag, Senior Manager of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau along with Mr Alexi Gunasekera, Commercial Counsellor and Ms Ganista Rasanayagam, Commercial Assistant of the Embassy of Sri Lanka Coordinated the series of events which highlighted the potential of Sri Lanka as a unique destination for the French traveler.   

Embassy of Sri Lanka 
23rd September 2016      


10. Establishment of diplomatic relations between the Principality and Sri Lanka

11. Longstanding Friendly Relations between Sri Lanka and France Reach new Vistas of Co-operation

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, on a three day official visit to Paris, from 1st to 3rd June 2016, reiterated his commitment to elevate the bilateral partnership with France to a higher level in all spheres of co-operation strengthening the existing bonds of friendship between the two countries.

At bilateral discussions with Jean – Marc Ayrault, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, both Ministers acknowledged the longstanding affinities of the two countries bound by common values and aspirations.  Minister Samaraweera outlined the progressive political developments achieved by Sri Lanka since the historical presidential elections in January 2015.   Minister made reference to the three pillar approach of President Sirisena, strengthening democracy, achieving meaningful reconciliation and fostering economic development.  Giving an account of the measures taken by the new government to strengthen democracy, he spoke of the   formation of a national unity government for implementing constitutional and legislative reforms, passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution curtailing executive powers of the President and presenting of the Right to Information Bill in the Parliament in March 2016.

He emphasized that the decision by the Government to co-sponsor the UN Human Rights Council resolution was a means of coming to terms with its own past which also paved the way to forge ahead with meaningful reconciliation.  The structural arrangement devised to give practical orientation to this process namely, the recent statutory provisions passed to setup the Missing Persons Office, the process underway to finalize the Truth Commission, the Accountability Mechanism and the Office of Reparations was explained in detail to his counterpart.

Minister Samaraweera, underlining the development goals of the government emphasized on the need to kick-start the country’s economy in order that the dividends of peace could be felt by all sections of the Sri Lanka society and in this respect sought greater engagement by France in the economic development process. 

Minister Ayrault, welcomed the great strides taken by Sri Lanka during a short span of time in building a conducive environment for peace and stability. He applauded the ambitious programme launched by Sri Lanka and the timely structures that have been deviced to bring about reconciliation.

Minister Ayrault, pledged his country’s firm support in all Sri Lanka’s ambitious endeavours and  recognized that France has been a longstanding friend of Sri Lanka and is keen to engage in its development process. In this context, he reaffirmed France’s support for Sri Lanka’s GSP + application and the lifting of the EU fisheries ban. He further stated that the business conclave meeting concluded with MEDEF International  (Mouvement des entreprises de France), the most representative organization of the French private sector is a step in the right direction for a strengthened presence of French Investments in Sri Lanka.  He added that many opportunities were also present in enhancing trade and tourism ties in consideration of the impressive growth projections for this year.

Three Agreements were also concluded during the visiton improving the Teaching of French in Sri Lanka, cooperation in the field of Cultural Heritage and the sanitation and Hygene Initiative for the town of Negambo (SHIFT), which both Ministers saw as a further step towards strengthening relations.

Both Ministers pledged to deepen the existing ties towards greater convergence for co-operation in the fight against terrorism and climate change which would make the partnership stronger.

At a meeting with the President of the French Constitutional Council, Laurent Fabius, both parties had discussions on the consultative Constitutional reform process that is taking place in Sri Lanka.  In highlighting the need for such reforms, Minister Samaraweera, underlined as a prerequisite the reflection of the cultural and ethnic diversity of the social fabric of Sri Lanka. 

Minister Samaraweera, during the visit also had meetings with Mr. Matthias Fekl French State Minister for Foreign Trade, Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, where both Ministers agreed to have an economic road map to deepen the current economic partnership.

At a meeting with the French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, André Vallini, the two Ministers discussed avenues for cooperation in expanding the role of the French Development Agency (AFD) in the country stressing also on the importance establishing a fully fledged resident AFD office in Sri Lanka. 

Minister Samaraweera also met with Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova at the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris. During the very cordial and friendly interactions which took place, Minister of Foreign Affairs drew attention to the importance of the role of education in achieving the policy priorities of the Government.  He added that the Government is in the process of introducing changes to the national curriculum to nurture the concept of cohabitation amongst the diverse ethnic groups.  In this context, Minister requested the expertise of UNESCO in capacity development and technical assistance to incorporate such changes.

Concluding his official visit to Paris, Minister Samaraweera was also hosted to a luncheon by Madam Véronique Louwagie, President of the Sri Lanka – France Friendship group of the French National Assembly.  This event was attended by a distinguished gathering of members both representing the upper and lower chambers of the French Parliament.  During the interactions with the representatives which took place in a friendly atmosphere, the parties recognized the need to deepen the dialogue as a further means of consolidating the existing bilateral relations. 

Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja of France, Secretary Finance Dr. R H S Samaratunga, Senior Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  Mr. C.A.H.M. Wijeratne and other Embassy Officials were associated with the visit.


Embassy of Sri Lanka

4th June 2016


12. Sri Lanka as a Vantage Point for International Film Making

Sri Lanka as a Vantage Point for International Film Making The 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, one of the key events in the international entertainment calendar, from 11th to 22nd May 2016, in the city of Cannes, South of France saw the Sri Lanka flag fly high at the International Film Market for the first time.

The Marché du Film is the most important event of the film industry. This year there were over 10,000 professionals participating including 3200 producers, participating at this event. The International film village is a networking hotspot which highlights the industry, the production and cinematography. Sri Lanka’s breathtaking landscapes and scenery that have already become a salient feature with the French film makers were aptly brought to life at the country’s pavillion in the Cannes International Film Village promoting the country as an idyllic location for international film producers.

This initiative to represent Sri Lanka at the International Film Market, organized with the patronage of Dr Harsha De Silva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, was a public private partnership involving the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris, the Sri Lanka Film Cooperation, and six companies in the industry.

 The Sri Lanka Pavilion designed as a platform for stakeholders to market the country saw a lot of interesting activity, with packed attendance for the interactive sessions. Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja and the Trade Counsellor Mr. Alexi Gunasekera accompanied the Hon. Deputy Minister to the Sri Lanka Pavilion. Mrs. Sandya Salgado and Mr.Vimukthi Jayasundara, renowned industry personnel and other stakeholders, were also present on this occasion. During the 10 days, the Cannes Film Festival offered unique opportunity to engage proactively with representatives of other countries, institutions, professional organization and producers. The pavilions, while showcasing the rich diversity of countries, made space for official engagements, media events and signing of agreements and treaties.

 A notable feature of this year's activities at the Cannes Film Market was the exclusive networking receptions organized at the Sri Lanka pavilion attracting many producers, directors and other related professionals from many countries such as USA, Israel Japan Hong-Kong Italy, France and the UK. This new initiative aimed at promoting and forging ties for co-production and partnerships between Sri Lanka and these countries. Business meetings also took place between the Sri Lanka delegates and international stakeholders to facilitate business promotion and explore opportunities for partnership.

The foundation was laid to sign a co-production agreement with the CNC (French National Film Cooperation) during a meeting held with the French Film authority. At the meeting Dr Harsha de Silva De Silva remarked that after the signing of this agreement the filmmakers of France and Sri Lanka will have the opportunity to produce films under bilateral co-production agreements. Bringing different nationalities together, this agreement would also “forge new markets and wider audiences," the Deputy Minister added. The agreement that is intended to be signed at the 70th edition of Cannes will further support archiving of Sri Lanka films and digitalization of the Sri Lanka cinema.

 A second Agreement that has been discussed and that will be signed with the organizers of the Cannes film festival and the National Film Cooperation of Sri Lanka will allow networking opportunities with international producers and conducting of training sessions for Sri Lanka film makers to develop cinematographic skills that would enhance the skills of Sri Lankan film makers. French Film Producer Philippe Avril, General Manager of Les Filmes de l’étranger, also signed an MOU with Film Island/Sri Lanka to further synergise the concept of the country as a film production location.

 Conscious of the fact that co-productions can contribute to an expansion of film industries as well as growth in the economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries, further opportunities will be explored to sign co-production agreements with other countries in the future.

Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja speaking at the inauguration of the networking session pointed out that the medium of film provided a great platform to showcase the culture and diversity of a country. Many iconic films, French television series and documentaries have already been filmed in Sri Lanka due to our stunning locations as well as the accessibility, authenticity and compact nature of the Island.

Other officials represented at the Sri Lanka Pavilion in this maiden venture included Mr. P.M. Deepal Chandraratne, Chairman, National Film Corporation; Mr. M.L. Subasinghe, Working Director of the National Film Corporation; Mr Dushan Wickramasuriya, Director Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Ms. Ganista Rasanayagam, Commercial Secretary of the Embassy of Sri Lanka. Private sector representatives included Mr.Gopi Dharmarathnam, Mrs. Nihara Ratnam, Mr. Priyanga Kumarasiri, Mr. Nishantha Padmakumara Mr. Udaya Dharmawardana Mrs. Iranthi Abeyasinghe and Mr. Priyath Salgado.

Embassy of Sri Lanka Paris

13. International Vesak Day Celebrated at UNESCO to promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue

The Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO and the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to France Tilak Ranaviraja and the staff in collaboration with the Asia Pacific (ASPAC) Group of countries successfully celebrated Vesak, a United Nations Day of Observance at UNESCO Headquarters on Friday, 20 May 2016.

The celebrations commenced with a panel discussion on the theme, ‘Way of Life based on the teachings of Buddha’, organized with a view to promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue based on the teachings of Buddha to promote peace and security for all humankind as enshrined in the Constitution of UNESCO.

Renowned Buddhist scholars, Dr. G. A. Somaratne, Assistant Professor of the Centre of Buddhist Studies at the University of Hong Kong, Dr. Alice Collett, Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the York St John University, Ven. Prof. Ittademaliye Indasara Thero of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka and Rev. Jyotisar Shraman, Founder Director of Association Kusalayan Centre de Meditation Bouddhique in Paris took part in the session which was followed by a question and answer session.

The second session, an evening of vibrant cultural performances showcasing diverse forms of devotion to Lord Gauthama Buddha depicted by artists representing various countries of the ASPAC group added more colour to the celebrations.

Following the performances was a reception where invitees were treated to an array of authentic Asian cuisine prepared by the Permanent Delegations of the Asia Pacific.

The Vesak Day Celebrations was attended by over 550 people including members of the Buddhist clergy, other religious dignitaries, Permanent Delegates accredited to UNESCO, staff of the UNESCO Secretariat, Members of the Sri Lankan and other communities.

14. Sri Lankan Community in France to receive solutions for longstanding consular issues

Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris successfully concluded the first ever consular forum conducted by the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Paris with a view to address issues faced by the Sri Lankan Community in France pertaining to issuance of passports, registration of birth, citizenship certificates and issuance of dual citizenship certificates.

On an invitation extended by Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja, a team of Senior Officials consisting of Mr. D. Swarnapala, Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs, Mr. M. N. Ranasinghe, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration and Mr. K. P. Yogachandra, Deputy Controller, Overseas Missions, Department of Immigration & Emigration visited Paris from 6-11 May 2016 and held discussions with the Embassy Officials as well as members of the community.

The Forum which was organized on 7 May 2016 was attended by members of the Sri Lankan community representing all ethnic groups. They were given the opportunity to present common as well as individual issues and difficulties faced by them at present.

Mr. M. N. Ranasinghe, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration speaking at the event mentioned that while taking into consideration the difficulties expressed, the Department of Immigration and Emigration would look at ways and means of finding appropriate solutions in consultation with the relevant stakeholders of the Government. Further, he added that given the policy priorities of the present National Unity Government with regard to reconciliation, he is very hopeful at finding viable solutions.

Members of the Sri Lankan community appreciated the initiative taken by the Embassy and the Department to explore avenues to find solutions to their existing issues.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka

11 May 2016


15.  Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris celebrates the 68th Anniversary of Independence Day on the theme of reconciliation

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Paris celebrated the 68th Anniversary of the Independence Day on 6th February 2016 at the Salons Hoche, one of the most prominent venues at the heart of Paris.

The Independence Day ceremony started with the event for the Sri Lankan community living in France. Around 500 guests representing all ethnic groups participated in the celebration, 40% being from the Tamil community living in France which is noteworthy. It was the first time in the recent past that a large number of members from the Sri Lankan community gathered at one event under one flag in keeping with the true spirit of reconciliation. The national anthem was played simultaneously followed by a two minute silence for all national heroes who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of the country. Religious dignitaries from all faiths who were seated at the main stage performed brief religious ceremonies blessing the country and its people to have a united country with durable peace. As customary, the national day messages of HE the President, Hon. Prime Minister and the Hon. Foreign Minister were read out both in Sinhala and Tamil by Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja and members of the staff. Ambassador Ranaviraja while addressing the gathering highlighted the measures taken by the Embassy and the Government to address the issues faced by the Sri Lankan community living in France. He also requested the assistance of the community members living in France to join in the development process of the country. The cultural performances by two dancing schools established in France made the event more colourful. Guests were treated to a traditional Sri Lankan meal consisting of rice and curry at the end of the event.

The event for the Diplomatic and business community took place at a different reception hall of the same venue. Around 200 Ambassadors, Permanent Delegates to UNESCO, members of the Diplomatic Community, Officials and their spouses were invited for the ceremony and around 150 were present at the event. The national anthem was sung by a group of small children representing all ethnic groups. The guests enjoyed the colourful and glamorous cultural items performed by the cultural groups showcasing the rich and diverse culture of the country. Ambassador Ranaviraja made a brief speech outlining the efforts taken by members of all ethnic groups to gain independence in 1948. He also underlined the policy initiatives taken by the new National Government to pursue durable peace through reconciliation strengthening of the rule of law, good governance as well as economic development. The guests were presented traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and an array of fusion cuisine. Arrangements were also made by the Embassy to promote Sri Lanka tourism, Sri Lankan tea and the SriLankan Airlines to the prestigious gathering present at the event. 

The Embassy of Sri Lanka France

8th February 2016