Yesterday in Bahrain, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was presented with the prestigious Khalifa Medal, the highest honor in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
During the ceremony, the King of Bahrain, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said the medal is being presented to President Rajapaksa “in appreciation of your Excellency and your friendly country, and in recognition of the efforts you are personally exerting to move with bilateral ties to a higher level of development and progress.
The Order of Al-Khalifa was founded in 1940 and revived in the 1970s. The medal honors the dedication of the late Amir Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa to humanitarianism. The medal has been presented to a handful of notable leaders including the King of Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Queen Elizabeth II, among others.
Upon receiving the medal, President Rajapaksa said, “I am humbled and honored.” He continued to say, “With Bahrain, we seek to build an enhanced dynamic partnership. The kind words, gracious hospitality and warm interactions will leave enduring and fond memories of this state visit, for me and my delegation, which undoubtedly will translate into active cooperation.”
Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, Mr. Dilan Perera, Deputy Minister of Labor and Labor Relations, Mr. Sarath Weerasekara ,Western Provincial Councilor, Mr. Nowzer Fowzie and Secretary to the President, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, and Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Bahrain Mr. Anura Rajakaruna were present for the awarding along with members from the business delegation.
Note: Following are the speeches made during the ceremony by both President Rajapaksa and His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.
His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain's speech during the Medal Award Ceremony.
In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful
Your Excellency Mr. President,
Peace, Mercy and blessings of God.
We are pleased to welcome your Excellency to Bahrain, and to express our utmost pride and honor over the level of our bilateral ties, which are ever-evolving towards further progress and development at all levels.
We look at this visit and the recent inauguration of the Sri Lankan embassy in Bahrain as an opportunity for further cooperation between our two friendly countries.
Equally, Bahrain sees in its Asian dimension, a possibility of establishing solid relations and strategic alliances in the region, based on the common outlooks and visions of the people, to further reinforce international security and stability and promote economic and social wellness that meet people's aspirations.
We would also like to seize the opportunity to express our appreciation for the contribution of your kind people to the progress and prosperity of the Kingdom of Bahrain, forming an integral part of the internal social fabric, ever known for its pluralistic nature and ability to create an environment of openness and diversity that embraces all sections of society regardless of their differences.
We are also please to present your Excellency with the Khalifa Medal; a prestigious Bahrain medal, in appreciation for your Excellency and your friendly country, and in recognition of the efforts you are personally exerting to move with bilateral ties to a higher level of development and progress.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's speech accepting the prestigious Khalifa Medal, the highest honor in the Kingdom of Bahrain, presented during a ceremony today by the King of Bahrain, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa at the King's Palace.
Your majesty the King of Bahrain
Your Royal Highness the Prime Minister
Members of the Royal Family and Royal Court Hon. Minister, Hon, Member of the Shura Council and the House of Representatives
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
On your Majesty's gracious invitation, I am extremely pleased to visit your beautiful Kingdom. I thank your majesty for the kind and generous welcome and for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation. The first ever state visit of a President of Sri Lanka to the Kingdom of Bahrain is a reflection of the warmth and maturity of the relationship between our two countries.
Your majesty, I am humbled and honored to receive the prestigious Sheikh Isa Medal, the highest honor of the Kingdom of Bahrain. This is particularly because, this award celebrates the life-long dedication of later Emir, Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa to humanitarianism, and the distinct impact he left on the Bahrain and world.
As a young member of parliament, I have memories of Sheikh Isa visiting Sri Lanka to attend the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1976 as the Emir of the newly independent Bahrain. I believe this great leader's far sightedness has provided a solid foundation for modern Bahrain. As an island nation in the Gulf, achievements of Bahrain are remarkable and impressive. The Bahrain International Formula One Circuit has elevated the stature of your Kingdom across seas as sports lovers know.
I am aware that under Your Majesty's visionary leadership, Bahrain has achieved rapid economic growth and significant improvement in the quality of life of your people. I share your majesty's philosophy, that a nation's citizens should be empowered, to contribute effectively to the economic growth of the country. This very tenet is encompassed in my policies for economic development of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, as an island nation in the Indian Ocean, has been able to embark on a rapid and robust journey to growth since the end of the 3 decade long struggle against terrorism. My country now stands undivided, under one flag, committed to achieving sustainable economic prosperity, shared by all communities.
Your majesty, Sri Lanka's decision to open a new mission in Manama last year was based on our prioritized policy to work closely with the likeminded countries in this region. With Bahrain, we seek to build an enhanced dynamic partnership. Several business leaders from my country have accompanied me on this visit to explore the considerable potential for the expansion of economic relations, between our two countries.
The kind words, gracious hospitality and warm interactions will leave enduring and fond memories of this state visit, for me and my delegation, which undoubtedly will translate into active cooperation, between our two countries. It is, therefore with great pleasure that I wish your majesty, good health, happiness and long life; peace and prosperity to the people of Bahrain and stronger Bahraini - Sri Lanka relations.