10 December 2016
The Galle Dialogue is an annual international maritime conference jointly hosted by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense and Navy. Last month, the seventh iteration of the Galle Dialogue focused on the theme of ‘Fostering Strategic Maritime Partnerships.’ With speakers ranging from top-echelon naval officers to eminent strategic analysts, it is but one of several forums enabling dialogue and exchanges on maritime security within the Indo-Pacific.
Strategically located at a key midpoint for trade and as a major logistics hub for naval and coastguard visits from around the world, the potential for Sri Lanka’s role in regional maritime affairs knows no bounds. At present, the Colombo Port handles 70 percent of container transhipment in the Indian Ocean, and over the past two years, 95 foreign warships from around the world have visited the island’s ports. Moreover, its Navy’s experience in fighting maritime terrorism against the lethal Sea Tigers remains an invaluable asset to the region.
With India and China coming foremost in the island’s foreign policymaking calculations, remarks made by Admiral Sunil Lamba, the chief of staff of the Indian Navy, and Rear Admiral Wang Dazhong, assistant to Chief of Staff to the PLA Navy (PLAN), warrant particular attention. The former reiterated PM Modi’s commitment to SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and friendship with regional littorals as per its “neighborhood first policy.” In his closing remarks, Admiral Lamba proposed development of regional architectures for maritime security cooperation under the umbrella of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). While such remarks indicate the practicality of utilizing existing cooperation mechanisms such as IONS, they can also be argued to reveal the aspirations of India for cooperative mechanisms within the Indian Ocean Region to be under its very own auspices.
… Rajni Gamage is a Senior Analyst from the Maritime Security Programme, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 14/12/2016