Foreign Relations | Speeches

Bavaria-Sri Lanka Relations

Dinner Hosted by Bavarian Ministers

Munich, Bavaria, Germany

March 15, 2001

Let me thank you most sincerely for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and the members of my delegation during our current visit to your beautiful state of Bavaria. I am also immensely grateful for this dinner organised in our honour and for the presence, on this occasion, of a member of dignitaries from the State of Bavaria. I am profoundly moved by the warm sentiments and the kind words expressed by you.

It is customary to include in the programme for official visits such as the present one, a visit to one of the landers which constitute the Federal Republic of Germany. When the option was given to me of choosing the State for this purpose, I had no hesitation in requesting the authorities to include a brief visit to Bavaria.

For more than one reason, I am delighted to be able to visit the Free State of Bavaria. Bavaria posses almost every kind of landscape, ranging from one of the last primeval forests in Germany, the Bavarian forest to the breath taking steep and majestic Alpine panorama.

Furthermore, since late 19th century, many Bavarian scholars and writers, who specialised in Asian studies, have contributed immensely to the study of Sri Lankan culture. Foremost among them was Wilhelm Geiger from Bavaria, who translated the Sri Lankan historical chronicle, the Mahawamsa into German. The German version was later translated into English and other European languages. Geiger’s interest in the Sinhalese language had been aroused by his meeting with the Sri Lankan scholar, Don Martino de Silva Wickramasinghe, which resulted in his longing visit to Sri Lanka. The Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences enabled Geiger to realise his dream by generously supporting his first study tour of my country. Geiger was also a linguist, who wrote the grammar of Sinhala. Geiger’s Sidathsangara is still being used as a guide for Sinhala grammar.

Modern Bavaria presents a happy blend of tradition and modernity, unity in diversity. Traditional agriculture and dairy farming coexist with the modern high tech industries, particularly in the aeronautical, electronic and automobile manufacturing sectors. I am happy to note that a number of companies from Bavaria have invested in Sri Lanka and Bavarians find Sri Lanka an attractive tourist destination. Sri Lanka participates in trade exhibitions in Munich and Nuremberg in the State of Bavaria.

I should like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the Chambers of commerce and industries in Bavaria who have readily supported our investment, tourism and trade promotion in the past.

I hope very much that we will be able to build on the traditional academic links between the Bavarian scholars and Sri Lanka as well as the ongoing exchanges in the trade and economic fields between this State and my country.

Once again let me thank you very much for all the excellent arrangements for my visit and I hope many of you will be able to visit Sri Lanka.

May I take this opportunity to convey my greetings and best wishes for the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of the State of Bavaria.