Turning a new chapter in Sri Lanka Russia bilateral relations, a new Air Services Agreement between Sri Lanka and the Russian Federation was signed at the Ministry of Transport of Russia in Moscow on 26.03.2012. H.E. Udayanga Weeratunga, Ambassador of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation signed the Agreement on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka while Mr. Valery M. Okulov, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation signed on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation. The new Air Services Agreement replaces the Air Transport Agreement between Ceylon and the U.S.S.R signed on 22 February1964.
During the discussion which preceded the signing ceremony Mr. Okulov commended the bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Russia and noted the commencement of direct flights of SriLankan Airlines and Aeroflot between Colombo and Moscow in 2011. He also noted the significance of the bilateral meetings between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Dmitry Medvedev as well as the meeting between Hon. Igor Levitin, Minister of Transport of Russia and Hon. Priyankara Jayaratne, Minister of Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka on 5th August 2011.
In response H.E. Udayanga Weeratunga thanked the Deputy Minister and the Russian Government for expediting the process of signing the new Air Services Agreement. He briefed the Russian side regarding the significance of the signing of the Agreement and also the present development progress of Sri Lanka vis-à-vis tourism.
Tourism Industry is booming in Sri Lanka with over 60% increase in the arrival of Russian tourists alone in 2011. H.E. Weeratunga also explained the significance of the new Air Services Agreement in connection with the potential for expansion of economic relations between Sri Lanka and Russia. He also took the opportunity to thank the Russian Government for the support extended to Sri Lanka especially at the recently concluded UN Human Rights Council Session.
In addition H.E. Weeratunga mentioned the progress of the construction of the Second International Airport of Sri Lanka in Mattala and noted that it would be opened for international traffic in November 2012. He also noted the construction of internationally reputed hotels in Sri Lanka such as the two Shangri La Hotel projects in Colombo and Hambantota as well as the other infrastructure projects for development of Hotels in Sri Lanka.
In conclusion H.E. Weeratunga reminded of the invitation extended by the Minister of Civil Aviation of Sri Lanka for his counterpart to visit Sri Lanka and also invited Mr. Okulov to visit Sri Lanka for the opening of Mattala International Airport of Sri Lanka in November 2012.
The discussion concluded with the signing ceremony and the two sides extended congratulations to each other on the successful completion of the new Air Services Agreement between Sri Lanka and the Russian Federation.
The ceremony was attended by Ms. Marina V. Gribanova, Deputy Director, Department of International Cooperation of Ministry of Transport of Russia, Mr. Alexander M. Tumanov, Consultant, Department of State Policy of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Transport of Russia, Ms. Daria L. Orlova, General Expert, Department of International Cooperation and Mr. Andrey Atmanov, Second Asia Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Diplomatic officials of Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation.
Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation