Ambassador Grace Asirwatham travelled to Luxembourg from Brussels for the occasion, welcoming guests together with honorary consul Dirk Van Der Ploeg. Jean Olinger, secretary general at the foreign ministry, and Walferdange mayor François Sauber were also at hand to light a traditional oil lamp to begin the event.
“This year, the independence of Sri Lanka is marked by an unwavering commitment to revival,” said the ambassador. The country in 2022 faced its deepest ever economic and political crisis, she said.
Economic mismanagement, food and fuel shortages, and inflation triggered widespread protests, some of which turned violent. Sri Lanka’s parliament in July 2022 elected a new president--Ranil Wickremesinghe-who appointed Dinesh Gunawardena the country’s next prime minister.
But the country is now firmly on the path of recovery, said ambassador Asirwatham. “Sri Lanka is beaming once again,” she said, adding that it hopes to attract more than 1m tourists this year.
“Sri Lanka attaches great significance to maintaining close relations with Luxembourg,” she said, speaking of “untapped potential” in the area of economic activities.
Luxembourg and Sri Lanka in 2019 enhanced diplomatic relations and the grand duchy appointed an ambassador to the country, resident in New Delhi. Foreign minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP) in 2020 visited Sri Lanka.
The ministry’s Jean Olinger during Wednesday’s reception said Luxembourg supports Sri Lanka’s ambition for closer ties with the EU as a founding member and welcomes “close political, cultural and people-to-people cooperation” with the country.
A dance troupe from Paris entertained guests throughout the evening performing traditional music and dances, with dishes such as dhal and chicken curry providing a taste of Sri Lanka.