On October 14-16, 2017 Hon. Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, made an official visit to St. Petersburg, Russia to participate in the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly held on October 14-18, 2017.
The Honorable Speaker was the head of the Sri Lankan Parliamentary delegation which also included the Minister of Foreign Employment and Minister of Justice Hon. Thalatha Atukorale, State Minister of Science, Technology and Research Hon. Lakshman Senewiratne, Member of the Parliament Hon. Mavai S. Senathirajah, Secretary-General of the Parliament Mr. Dhammika Dasanayake, and the Chief of Protocol of the Parliament Mr. Upali Kumarasinghe. The delegation was also joined by His Excellency Dr. Saman Weerasinghe, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Russia, and Mr. Dulmith Waruna, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Russia.
The opening ceremony of the 137th IPU Assembly was led by the President of Russia His Excellency Vladimir Putin and the Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Hon. Valentina Matviyenko who addressed more than 100 chairpersons of foreign Parliaments who attended the Assembly. The total number of registered participants exceeded 2300 people.
In the framework of the official visit to St. Petersburg Honorable Karu Jayasuriya conducted a series of high level discussions with representatives of Russian state authorities.
One of the key meetings was held with the Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Hon. Evgeniy Bushmin, during which both Sri Lankan and Russian delegations highlighted that this year the two countries celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. It was noted that currently Sri Lanka and Russia are at the stage of active enhancement of cooperation in many sectors and both parties concluded that it [cooperation] should further expand into humanitarian, cultural areas.
On October 14, 2017 the Sri Lankan delegation met with the Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Hon. Vladimir Kirillov. In the course of the conversation, Hon. Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka highlighted the plans of the Sri Lankan Government to double the trade turnover between Sri Lanka and Russia. One of the promising areas of long-term cooperation, according to the parties, is the development of the tourism sector. "Undoubtedly, the launch of a regular all-the-year-round air service will help greatly strengthen our contacts," said the Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg. This opinion was supported by representatives of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, who informed their St. Petersburg colleagues about the planned launch of a direct air service by the end of this year. A special attention was paid to the expansion of cooperation in the scientific, educational and cultural fields. Hon. Vladimir Kirillov invited Hon. Karu Jayasuriya and members of the Sri Lankan delegation to take part in the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum, as well as festive events timed to the 315th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg.
Further, Hon. Speaker of the Parliament Karu Jayasuriya along with the accompanying delegation held official discussions with Hon. Petr Tolstoy, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. During the meeting, both parties pointed out the sustainable development of cooperation between Sri Lanka and Russia as well as large potential in expansion of bilateral relations into new spheres.
The official visit of the Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka Hon. Karu Jayasuriya to St. Petersburg and participation of the Sri Lankan Parliamentary Delegation in the 137th IPU Assembly have become one of the key events carried out in the framework of bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Russia in the year of 2017. It is believed to have boosted the further improvement of cooperation between the two countries and set additional platforms for exploration of new ways of collaboration.