FM MARAPANA CALLS ON SL DIPLO­MATS TO BOOST IM­AGE OF SRI LANKA

He urged the Sri Lankan diplo­mats to be in­no­va­tive in this im­age-build­ing ex­er­cise and in chang­ing the per­cep­tions about Sri Lanka

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

For­eign Min­is­ter Ti­lak Marapana has called on the Sri Lankan diplo­mats to boost the im­age of Sri Lanka over­seas through ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive ex­e­cu­tion of pub­lic diplo­macy, uti­liz­ing its in­trin­sic brands such as Bud­dhism, gems, tea, spices, high-end ex­port prod­ucts and the warmth of tra­di­tional Sri Lankan hospi­tal­ity.

Min­is­ter Marapana made these re­marks at the cer­tifi­cate- award­ing cer­e­mony on Fri­day (11) of the twoweek long Pub­lic Diplo­macy and Me­dia Re­la­tions train­ing pro­gramme, or­ga­nized by the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs for its of­fi­cials in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Sri Lanka Press In­sti­tute (SLPI) with a view to en­hance their pub­lic diplo­macy and me­dia re­la­tions skills.

This was the first time in two decades that the Min­istry or­ga­nized a pro­fes­sional train­ing pro­gramme ded­i­cated to pub­lic diplo­macy and me­dia re­la­tions for its of­fi­cials. The pro­gramme was at­tended by the of­fi­cers of the 2018 in­take of the Sri Lanka For­eign Ser­vice and a group of mid-level of­fi­cers serv­ing in the Min­istry.

Ad­dress­ing the cer­e­mony, the For­eign Min­is­ter stressed the im­por­tance of por­tray­ing Sri Lanka’s im­age over­seas as a civ­i­lized na­tion with peo­ple full of lov­ing kind­ness who felt for each other and who have an abun­dance of tal­ent. “That mes­sage has to be given loud and clear,” the Min­is­ter said.

He urged the Sri Lankan diplo­mats to be in­no­va­tive in this im­age­build­ing ex­er­cise and in chang­ing the per­cep­tions about Sri Lanka. The Min­is­ter also ob­served that skills in pub­lic diplo­macy and me­dia re­la­tions would be ex­tremely use­ful in those en­deav­ours.

Speak­ing at the event, For­eign Sec­re­tary Rav­inatha Aryas­inha said the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs had a piv­otal role to play in pub­lic diplo­macy both at home and abroad and that the rig­or­ous train­ing pro­gramme had equipped sev­eral groups of for­eign ser­vice of­fi­cers at dif­fer­ent lev­els with the nec­es­sary skills to ex­e­cute the pub­lic diplo­macy agenda of the gov­ern­ment for the next twenty years.

While em­pha­siz­ing the ne­ces­sity for diplo­mats to build re­la­tion­ships with the me­dia, he said the twoweek train­ing pro­gramme pro­vided a plat­form for the diplo­mats and the jour­nal­is­tic com­mu­nity to en­gage in un­der­stand­ing each other’s per­spec­tives, paving way for an en­dur­ing re­la­tion­ship.

The pro­gramme which aimed at help­ing par­tic­i­pants un­der­stand the con­cepts and meth­ods of pub­lic diplo­macy, its di­men­sions and its role in the in­for­ma­tion age, was ori­ented to train of­fi­cials in the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of dif­fer­ent pub­lic diplo­macy tools in their line of work.

It in­cluded lec­tures on the­o­ret­i­cal as­pects of pub­lic diplo­macy and me­dia re­la­tions by se­nior jour­nal­ists, Colombo-based for­eign diplo­mats, ex­perts and prac­ti­tion­ers, cov­er­ing a wide range of is­sues in­clud­ing the his­tory of pub­lic diplo­macy, role of me­dia in shap­ing pub­lic opin­ion, so­cial me­dia, in­ter­ac­tion with me­dia and the free­dom of ex­pres­sion in the con­text of the Right to In­for­ma­tion Act.

It also in­cluded ses­sions with ex­perts and prac­ti­tion­ers in­clud­ing res­i­dent for­eign cor­re­spon­dents and diplo­mats, on the prac­ti­cal as­pects of pub­lic diplo­macy such as news re­lease writ­ing, con­duct­ing press con­fer­ences, giv­ing in­ter­views and us­ing so­cial me­dia ef­fec­tively, with par­tic­i­pants fac­ing mock press con­fer­ences and in­ter­views on cam­era.

They also vis­ited the Sri Lanka Ru­pavahini Cor­po­ra­tion, Sri Lanka Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion and the As­so­ci­ated News­pa­pers of Cey­lon Lim­ited (Lake House) to gain first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the func­tion­ing of a ‘news­room’.

The par­tic­i­pat­ing of­fi­cials also had dis­cus­sions with jour­nal­ists as to how the Sri Lankan diplo­mats could do bet­ter in me­dia re­la­tions and on the needs of me­dia in Sri Lanka and abroad with re­spect to the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Sri Lanka Mis­sions over­seas.

Se­nior of­fi­cials of the For­eign Min­istry and its af­fil­i­ated in­sti­tu­tions, of­fi­cials of the Sri Lanka Press In­sti­tute and the Sri Lanka Col­lege of Jour­nal­ism and re­source per­sons of the train­ing pro­gramme at­tended the cer­tifi­cate- award­ing cer­e­mony.

The pro­gramme which aimed at help­ing par­tic­i­pants un­der­stand the con­cepts and meth­ods of pub­lic diplo­macy

Par­tic­i­pants of the Pub­lic Diplo­macy and Me­dia Re­la­tions train­ing pro­gramme with the For­eign Min­is­ter and other se­nior of­fi­cials.

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