His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales with Dr. Chris Nonis at the CHOGM 2007, Kampala, Uganda
The Royal Household today confirmed that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Heir to the Throne, will represent Her Majesty the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka this November. HRH Prince Charles has previously represented The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth in the past, including at the Commonwealth Games 2010.
Her Majesty celebrated her 87th Birthday this April, and unfortunately had to cancel her attendance at the Commonwealth Day celebration in March this year at London’s Westminster Abbey after many years, due to Her Majesty being indisposed, and having been recently hospitalised.
Buckingham Palace stated that this decision reflects the wish of Her Majesty at this time in her reign to limit her long distance travel. In addition, several other members of the Royal Family represented Her Majesty on a number of long-haul visits to Commonwealth countries during the celebrations of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee last year.
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has always taken an active interest in supporting and encouraging the Commonwealth and its values, and attended the 2007 CHOGM in Kampala, Uganda. Whilst paying enormous tribute to Her Majesty’s continuing dedication and deep sense of duty to the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka warmly welcomes His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for CHOGM 2013.
British Prime Minister David Cameron with Dr.Chris Nonis, Sri Lankan High commissioner to the UK
British Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron, and Foreign Secretary Rt Hon William Hague, will be attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, Dr Chris Nonis, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK confirmed. The Commonwealth biennial meeting in November this year, will be preceded by the Commonwealth People’s Forum, the Commonwealth Youth Forum, and the Commonwealth Business Forum, and usually attracts several thousand delegates, and global media coverage. It will provide the opportunity for the 54 Heads to meet to discuss matters of global and Commonwealth concern, and agree collective policies and initiatives.
Although there had been intensive lobbying in the past year by anti-Sri Lanka activist groups with collateral agendas, in particular in London, which is home to the Commonwealth Secretariat, they had not succeeded in their attempts to pressurize Commonwealth Nations to shift the venue, nor to pressurise the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to place Sri Lanka on its formal agenda.
In that context, Dr Nonis reiterated the strong support that Sri Lanka enjoyed amongst the Commonwealth countries, represented by the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Secretariat, comprising the 54 London-based Commonwealth High Commissioners, during their regular deliberations at Marlborough House, in the spirit of unity and friendship. He also recalled the unwavering support of all except one Country, at recent meetings, which necessitates a depth and breadth of understanding that Commonwealth countries are at different stages of development, with a commonality of values and aspirations, as well as challenges and constraints, and it is precisely this rich and diverse tapestry that makes up the modern Commonwealth.
Dr Chris Nonis also spoke earlier this week at the BBC’s RADIO 4 “Today” Programme in London, the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme, which provides insight, analysis and expert debate as key policy makers are challenged on the latest news stories throughout the UK. He articulated the comprehensive reconciliation, reintegration, and reconstruction programme underway in Sri Lanka in the post-conflict era, under the leadership of HE President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Questioned by BBC interviewers, he also pointed out the imperative for the international community to visit Sri Lanka and make an objective and impartial analysis of the reality of contemporary Sri Lanka, and extended an invitation to all those countries to experience Sri Lanka, the Host Nation of CHOGM 2013.
(From L to R) H.E. Dr. Chris Nonis , High Commissioner for Sri Lanka to the UK with Mr. Keith Williams, Chief Executive Officer of British Airways, at the Sri Lanka High Commission.
Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Chris Nonis said that the fact that British Airways, the UK’s National carrier and third largest airline in Europe, has taken the decision to resume flights to Sri Lanka is an excellent index of their substantial confidence in Sri Lanka and its future growth potential.
British Airways suspended its flights to Sri Lanka in the late 1990’s due to security reasons and resumes flights to Sri Lanka after a fifteen year absence in the island, and is represented by the Hayleys Group, one of the largest diversified conglomerates in Sri Lanka. The country offers a wealth of culture, history, heritage, and rich diversity of experiences from pristine beaches and stunning landscapes to wildlife and adventure, all within a compact location, and was named the top travel destination for 2013 by British Airways. The UK was the second largest source of tourists to Sri Lanka in 2012 at over 114, 000, from a total of over 1 million, Dr Nonis said.
Keith Williams, Chief Executive Officer of British Airways, will be taking the inaugural flight on the 14th April, and spoke at the Sri Lankan High Commission about his confidence in Sri Lanka. British Airways is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom and the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations. Following its merger with Iberia, the International Airlines Group, IAG, created the world's third-largest airline in terms of annual revenue and the second largest airline group in Europe, serving over 150 destinations.
Keith Williams said “This is an extremely exciting new route for us. Sri Lanka is experiencing a boom in tourism, and the industry is expected to grow further. The addition of BA would give British tourists additional flexibility, and create value for both the aviation and tourism sectors. The UK has the second largest number of tourists visiting the island after India, so it’s a great opportunity for them to fly there with British Airways. “
Keith Williams said “We will be operating flights to Sri Lanka from UK's Gatwick airport to Colombo's Bandaranaike international airport via Male in the Maldives. We will operate Boeing 777’s, long-range wide-body twin-engine jet airliners in a three class configuration on a thrice-a-week flight schedule to Colombo. I am looking forward to our inaugural flight, at the time of New Year celebrations, and the dawn of a new opportunity for the UK and Sri Lanka.”
L to R : H.E. Mr Gordon Campbell, Canadian High Commissioner, Ambassador Prof. Miomir Zuzul, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia, H.E. Ms Ruth Elizabeth Rouse, Grenadian High Commissioner and H.E. Dr Chris Nonis, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK.
Dr. Chris Nonis spoke on the Ambassadors Panel of the Global Economic Forum 2013, UK, and highlighted the geo-strategic positioning of Sri Lanka at the nexus between shipping and aviation routes of the West and the East, and the substantial infrastructure development in the country in the post-conflict era. He spoke of the recently inaugurated Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, along with the Hambantota Port, which will help to position Sri Lanka as a logistics hub within the Indian Ocean. Dr. Nonis also spoke of the infrastructure investments in “Uthuru Wasanthaya” and “Nagenahira Navodaya” in the North and East, in addition to the comprehensive reconciliation and reintegration programmes in Sri Lanka.
He also highlighted the increasing number of tourists to Sri Lanka, with over 114,000 tourists from Britain alone, from a total of over 1 million in 2012, and that British Airways will shortly recommence its flights to Sri Lanka, which are strong indices of the tourism potential of the Country.
The panel consisted of H.E. Mr Gordon Campbell, Canadian High Commissioner; H.E. Ms Ruth Elizabeth Rouse, Grenadian High Commissioner; chaired by Ambassador Prof. Miomir Zuzul, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia; and H.E. Dr Chris Nonis, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, who each spoke about their respective Countries on the theme of “Economic Diplomacy” and its value in increasing trade and investment inflows to their Countries.
HRH the Prince of Wales, President of the British Asian Trust, announced the new appointments to the British Asian Trust’s Advisory Councils, at the 5th anniversary dinner of the Trust, held at Windsor Castle on Monday 11th February. Mr Mukesh Ambani - Managing Director and Chairman of Reliance Industries, was appointed to head the Trust’s India Advisory Council, and Dr. Chris Nonis, Chairman of the Mackwoods Group and Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK was appointed to head the Trust’s Sri Lanka Advisory Council. They join Tom Singh, OBE, founder of New Look Fashion, who heads the Trust’s UK Advisory Council, and Arif Naqvi, founder and CEO of Abraaj Group, who heads the Trust’s Pakistan Advisory Council.
The British Asian Trust is one of Prince Charles’ charities, founded in 2007, and is dedicated to help disadvantaged communities and rural upliftment through education, health and livelihood initiatives that generate self-sufficiency. The Trust has already touched the lives of more than 800,000 people across South Asia. The Advisory Councils are intended to provide the British Asian Trust with further in-country insight and assist with their rigorous selection of future projects.
HRH Prince Charles, during his speech to an audience of over 200 at the Trust’s Anniversary dinner, whilst announcing the Advisory Board appointments, said that “I am hugely grateful to Mukesh Ambani who has offered his support in India, also to Arif Naqvi in the lead in Pakistan, His Excellency Dr. Chris Nonis in Sri Lanka and Tom Singh here in the UK. We are incredibly lucky to have such important and supportive people.”
Dr. Chris Nonis stated that he was honoured to have been entrusted with this role, and that his experience in Medicine, Pan-Commonwealth development issues and International Affairs, Business, and Charitable work, will assist him in helping to realise the aims of the Trust.
L-R: H.E. Abdulla Ali Al-Radhi, H.R.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Maktoum Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, H.E. Dr. Chris Nonis, Hon. Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Brig. Mohan Gupta, Aiden Burley MP, Ian Paisley MP
Professor G.L. Pieris, Minister of External Affairs who graced the High Commission’s Independence Day Celebration delivered a seminal address on the Country’s progress in the post-conflict era, highlighting the tremendous challenges and constraints Sri Lanka had faced, and the remarkable progress it had achieved, in particular in rehabilitation, demining, livelihood development, infrastructure development, education and capacity building. Professor Pieris also highlighted the recent Independence Day celebration in Trincomalee, and the significant programme of investment and infrastructure development taking place in the North and East.
He was addressing over 180 Members of the Diplomatic Community, Parliamentarians from the House of Lords and House of Commons; Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Commonwealth Institutions; Think Tanks and Opinion Leaders, at the celebration of Sri Lanka’s Independence Day at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London.
Referring to the nature of the Commonwealth as a voluntary organisation of 54 member-states with diverse cultures, ethnicities and value systems, the Hon. Minister articulated that it was not a monolith. If a few member-states attempt to turn such an organisation into a political tool in pursuit of their own agendas, it would not only damage the ethos that the Commonwealth represents but also threaten the very future of the organisation.
High Commissioner Dr Chris Nonis articulated that Sri Lanka had achieved Universal suffrage 17 years prior to Independence, and has always cherished the values of Democracy and Development, which were twin pillars of the Commonwealth. He recounted the success of the recent Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s Conference attended by over 700 Parliamentarians, and the ongoing preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2013, and the three Fora which precede it.
He commented on Sri Lanka’s progress on Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, reintegration and reconstruction, and the growth rate in the previously conflict-affected areas of the North and East, which was a firm index of the economic dividends that are accruing.
What does the South Asian island nation Sri Lanka have to add to the most prestigious fashion event in the UK? A unique lesson on how fashion can encompass sustainability, heritage crafts and state-of-the-art green manufacturing.
Sri Lanka is more than just 2013’s hottest travel destination (www.lonelyplanet.com). One of the 27nations participating in the British Council and British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase 2013 (IFS), in parallel with London Fashion Week, this small island has something refreshingly unique to share with the fashion and design world. Home to one of the world’s largest ethically fortified fashion making industries, Sri Lanka is also an emerging regional centre for using ‘design’ as a power tool for sustainable development.
The Sri Lanka High Commission in London celebrated a Christmas Carol Service on the 14 December 2012, with the participation of over 150 members of the Sri Lankan Diaspora community living in the UK. The evening commenced with the lighting of the advent candles.
Rev. Father Rohitha Rodrigo; Rev Father Tony de Alwis, Venerable Konwawe Ariyarathana Thero; Pastor Charles Abraham; and Rev Father Colvin addressed the gathering, conducted prayers , and highlighted the significance of Christmas, and the message of peace, love and goodwill to all.
Hon Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management and Leader of the House, addressed the diaspora community. He congratulated High Commissioner Dr Chris Nonis on all his initiatives in bringing the diaspora communities living in the UK together as a symbol of unity, friendship, and peace. He said that Sri Lanka today is a Nation for all communities and all religions. He spoke of the sincere reconciliation efforts, in addition to rehabilitation and reconstruction, and the imperative of bringing the hearts and minds of the diaspora together. He wished the diaspora community the joy and peace of the Christmas Season on behalf of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan People.
Dr. Chris Nonis, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK addressed the Defence and Security Forum, UK, the Foreign and Defence affairs “think tank” which is chaired by Major General Patrick Cordingley, DSO, who commanded the ground forces in the First Gulf War. Its Deputy Chairman is Rt Hon Sir John Wheeler, former Minister of State for Northern Ireland, and Lady Olga Maitland, former Member of Parliament, serves DSF as its President. DSF serves to inform and brief members of the City, the professions, diplomats and servicemen on current events in the field of defence and foreign affairs, and bearing in mind the impact that the economies of the world have on international relations, DSF also keeps a monitoring eye on trade relations and economic issues.
Sri Lankan High Commissioner Dr. Chris Nonis and several British Parliamentarians were invited to address the Multifaith Forum in British Parliament, during Multifaith week in the UK. In his address, Dr Chris Nonis spoke of the multiculturalism of Sri Lanka and the spirituality of its people, and the value of faith as a unifier across communities. He also spoke about the progress Sri Lanka had made in the post conflict era, and that it was incumbent upon all communities to open their hearts to each other, to respect the diversity of each other, thereby providing each other dignity, which in turn will ensure a durable peace in Sri Lanka in the post conflict era.
Over 130 members of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora and other Sri Lankan community members living in the United Kingdom participated at the Deepavali celebration organised by the Sri Lanka High Commission in London on 16th November 2012.
Fifteen Venerable members of the Maha Sangha from several Buddhist Viharas in the United Kingdom gathered to invoke blessings on His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a Pirith Chanting and Sanghika Dana organised by the Sri Lanka High Commission in London.
Chief Incumbent of the London Buddhist Vihara Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of the Kingsbury Buddhist Vihara Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of the Birmingham Buddhist Maha Vihara Ven. Dr. Vitharandeniya Kassapa Nayake Thero and Venerable Maha Sangha Theras from the following Buddhist Viharas also participated at the Pirith Chanting and Sanghika Dana on 17th and 18th November 2012:
London Buddhist Vihara, Chiswick; Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre, Kingsbury; Birmingham Maha Vihara in Birmingham; Thames Buddhist Vihara in London; Eastham Temple, London; Edmonton Temple, London; Letchworth Dhamma Nikethanaya, Letchworth; Ilford Temple, London; Heathrow Athula Dassana Temple, London.
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner for the UK, His Excellency Dr Chris Nonis, was awarded the “Diplomat of the Year” for Asia, at the Annual Diplomat Awards Ceremony at the Langham Hotel in London last night, in the presence of the Diplomatic Community. This is the first time a Sri Lankan High Commissioner has won this award, which is chosen from the 164 Embassies and Diplomatic Missions in London.
Hugo De Blocq Van Kuffeler in his introduction to the Diplomat Awards ceremony stated that
“Yet another year has passed us, leaving us at an extraordinary time in world history, more complex and challenging trials for its citizens to cope with, and for its Diplomats to resolve. In a year that has seen dramatic shifts in International power, it appears that the modern Diplomat needs to be an expert in conflict resolution, poverty alleviation, climate change as well as government PR and Nation branding. The scale of global challenges facing us today, economic, social, environmental, and security weigh upon us all. There has been more states in conflict in the past 12 months since the 2nd World war, and yet Diplomacy is more important than ever. Governments must believe that diplomacy should displace defence at the core of International policy, and so the role of the diplomat is as important as ever. Despite the conveniences of modern technology, the tact, persuasiveness, influence and guile, of a great Diplomat is far more effective than an email or letter. Diplomacy is the brain of a Nation. It is been said that the quality of a Nation’s diplomacy is its direction and weight, and so it is important that we appreciate the great conductors of Diplomacy this evening. Already dealing with one of the most intense workloads in 2012, Diplomats posted in London will face a year when almost every country will have a delegation visiting the capital for Her Majesty's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and London's 2012 Olympics.
A two-day photographic exhibition capturing in graphic detail Sri Lanka before and after the 30-year conflict attracted a wide cross-section of foreign and local dignitaries.
Held at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London the exhibition was viewed by parliamentarians from the House of Commons, House of Lords and the European Parliament, leading Buddhist monks in the UK, London-based diplomats, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials and from Commonwealth institutions, public figures and the Sri Lankan community.
Among the attendees was Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat who was in Sri Lanka recently during the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's Annual Conference.
The photo-exhibition graphically conveyed the various acts of terrorism of the LTTE and the enormity of the damage and destruction caused across the country. During that tragic period the LTTE gunned down or blasted several dozen Sri Lankan leaders including Tamil politicians and intellectuals.
Dr. Chris Nonis addresses the Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council at the British Parliament
Sri Lankan High Commissioner for the U.K., H.E. Dr. Chris Nonis addressed the Conservative Foreign & Commonwealth Council, chaired by Sir Ronald Halstead, which provides a forum for discussion of International Foreign relations, and the promotion of greater understanding and awareness amongst Conservative Party members and activists, in the House of Lords building of the British Parliament. The patrons of this society include The Rt. Hon William Hague MP, Foreign Secretary; The Rt. Hon Sir John Major KG, CH; The Rt. Hon Lord Howe of Aberavon QC; The Rt. Hon Baroness Chalker of Wallasey and The Rt. Hon Lord Hurd of Westwell CH CBE; and whose President is Sir Malcolm Rifkind, KCMG, QC.
The Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council members applauded the progress made by Sri Lanka in the post-conflict era, the comprehensive LLRC Report, its recommendations and implementation programme. Dr. Chris Nonis in his keynote address called on the Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council to look beyond the inflammatory rhetoric of the agents of separatism with collateral agendas, and the imperative that the people of the UK do not fall prey to covert pressure from extremely well-funded lobby groups who use coercive measures for fundraising, and subsequently use their funds to influence opinion leaders, think tanks, and legislators, but who are in reality surrogates for the extreme rump of terrorism. He reiterated that this was anathema to the fundamental democratic values which we all cherish.
High Commissioner Dr. Chris Nonis briefed British Parliamentarians from the House of Commons and the House of Lords, academics and Think Tanks, at an interactive dialogue on the LLRC Report held last afternoon in Portcullis House in the British Parliament.
Dr. Chris Nonis articulated that the holistic approach of the LLRC is entirely consistent with restorative justice embedded with accountability. He further stated that it is a comprehensive, objective and impartial report which demonstrates the integrity of the LLRC, and it is set in the context of International Humanitarian Law incorporating the principle of distinction and principle of proportionality. He said that it has a wealth of content and provides a nuanced understanding of the conflict, and many lessons can be learnt from it. He further stated that the release of the LLRC Report in full by the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa demonstrates both its sincerity and commitment and is a landmark in the reconciliation process of Sri Lanka in the post-conflict era.
Conservative MP Mr. James Wharton said “This is an extremely welcome opportunity to discuss the way forward for Sri Lanka after what has been a very difficult period of its history. The High Commissioner gave us a very thorough overview of the (LLRC) Report including answers to a wide range of questions. I know that a number of my Parliamentarian colleagues look forward with the intent to seeing Sri Lanka progress over the coming months and years”.