Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena of Sri Lanka concluded a three day successful official visit to the Kingdom of Thailand from 31 May – 02 June 2023, at the invitation of the Rector of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Secretary General of International Council for the Day of Vesak (ICDV) and Executive Secretary of International Association of Buddhist Universities, Most Ven. Prof. Dr. Phra Dharmavajrabundit and President of ICDV, President of International Association of Buddhist Universities, member of Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand, Most Ven. Prof. Dr. Phra Brahmapundit, with the blessing of the Supreme Sangha Council and the Royal Thai Government for 18th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebrations 2023 under the theme, ‘Buddhist Wisdom Coping with Global Crises’ at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU) in Ayutthaya and United Nations Conference Centre(UNCC) in Bangkok and as a guest of the Government of Thailand.
On arrival at the Suwarnaboomi airport, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena was received by the Director General Worawoot Pongprapapant of the Department of South Asian, Middle East and African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and Ambassador of Sri Lanka and Permanent Representative to the UNESCAP C. A. Chaminda I. Colonne, spouse and staff of the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Bangkok.
Prime Minister Gunawardena delivered the keynote speech on ‘Buddhist Wisdom Coping with Global Crises’ at the 18th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebrations held at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Ayutthaya on 01 June 2023, which was presided over by His Holiness Somdet Phra Ariyavangsagatayana, Supreme Patriarch of Thailand and with 3,500 onsite audience. Prime Minister had discussions with the Supreme Patriarch prior to celebrations. Prime Minister also had brief interactions with leading monks from China, Myanmar, Lao PDR and Cambodia.
Prime Minister Gunawardena also visited Wat Dhammaram and Governor of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Niwat Rungsakorn welcomed him. Prime Minister gifted with artifact with Sri Maha Bo leaf to the Chief Abbot at the temple for the Upali Maha Thera Museum. Prime Minister also visited Chao Sam Phraya National Museum during his visit to Ayutthaya.
President of the Privy Council General Surayud Chulanont, representative of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, presided over the Opening Ceremony of 18th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebration 2023 at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in Bangkok on 02 June 2023 and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena of Sri Lanka, welcomed him on his arrival at the UNCC. During the luncheon hosted in honour of Prime Minister by the Under Secretary General of the UN and Executive Secretary of the UNESCAP, Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, both discussed on accelerating Sri Lanka’s cooperation with UNESCAP in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, Sri Lanka’s proposal on holding Climate Justice Summit in Colombo in October, 2023 etc.
Consolidating Sri Lanka’s longstanding excellent relations with Thailand based on Therawada Buddhist religious values, Prime Minister Gunawardena had Royal Audience with His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshna at Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall, Dusit Palace on 02 June 2023. An invitation was extended by Prime Minister Gunawardena for His Majesty the King to visit Sri Lanka at a mutually agreed time.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand at the Government House of Bangkok on 31 May 2023. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and other senior officials of the Thai Foreign Ministry joined the discussions. The wide array of historical, political, economic and trade discussions, included current socio-political situations, Thai-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement scheduled to be signed in the first quarter of 2024, enhancing Thai Investment in Sri Lanka and Colombo Port city Project, BIMSTEC summit scheduled to be held in November, 2023, establishment of Theravada Buddhist Centre in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and temple to temple contacts, enhancing cooperation through ‘One Tambon/Village One Product’ (OTOP/OVOP) under Thai sufficiency economy philosophy, engagement with ASEAN etc. Prime Minister Gunawardena also thanked the Government of Thailand supporting Sri Lanka during recent political unrest and the crisis.
Prime Minister Gunawardena addressed more than fifty Thai investors at an investment Promotion Event ‘Invest in Sri Lanka’-now is the time, organized by the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Bangkok in collaboration with the Federation of Thai Industries, Tourism Council of Thailand, Board of Investment of Thailand, International Chamber of Commerce of Thailand and Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand on 31 May 2023 at the Mission premises. During the event the e-version of ‘Ready to invest opportunities in Sri Lanka’ in Thai language was launched by the Prime Minister. Chairman, Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka and Chairman/Colombo Port City Economic Commission (CPCEC), Dinesh Weerakkody, and other senior officials of the BOI and CPCEC joined the event virtually.
Prime Minister Gunawardena also had discussions with Energy Absolute PCL on their battery-powered locomotive, the Gem and Jewelry Traders Association and the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand. Former Thailand Ambassador to Sri Lanka Poldej Worachat and his wife also paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister.
Matichon and Khaosod News channels interviewed the Prime Minister Gunawardena and local media gave wide media coverage for the visit.
Minister of Buddhashasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickremanayake, State Minister of Piriven Education Vijitha Berugoda, Member of Parliament Yadamini Gunawardena, Ambassador of Sri Lanka and Permanent Representative to the UNESCAP C. A. Chaminda I. Colonne, Additional Secretary of Prime Minister’s office Deepa Liyanage, Honorary Advisor to the Prime Minister T. Rusiripala included in the Prime Minister’s delegation and joined discussions.
The International Council for Day of Vesak (ICDV), has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The thrice sacred days of Vesak celebrating the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing away of Buddha Gautama was recognized by the United Nations at its General Assembly in 1999. The first Event was celebrated at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2001.
Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
12 June 2023