Posted by: lrrp | November 2, 2004

President: Protect our cultural heritage by Dasun Edirisinghe

President Chandrika Kumaratunga, at the occasion of the ceremonial handing over of the Dutch Reformed Church in Galle Fort, said we must contribute to protecting our cultural heritage as in other countries in the world. After the formation of the Central Cultural Fund, we successfully completed the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya cultural sites, she said.

The government of the Netherlands funded the renovation of the Dutch Reformed Church. “They have made a significant contribution to enriching Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage, specially in the field of architecture. They spent 14 million rupees on this renovation.

I must thank the Netherlands government for their contribution to protecting and conserving our cultural heritage. I also thank Susan Blankhart, the Netherlands ambassador, for her efforts in making this venture a success,” the president added.

Deputy Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Samantha Vidyarathna addressing the ceremony said there were two cultural heritages in Sri Lanka, one of our own history and one received from foreign countries.

“We have contributed to protecting the whole cultural heritage, not only the Buddhist,” Mr. Vidayarathna said.

For the past four centuries the Dutch-Sri Lanka alliance has had profound effects on the social, cultural, religious, economic and political spheres of this country, Susan Blankhart said. She also said that Sri Lanka has the best collections of Dutch fortifications and one of the most tangible and outstanding features of our mutual heritage is Galle Fort and the Dutch Reformed Church. “We started a joint programme to renovate the Dutch Reformed Church in Galle in the year 2000, financed by the Dutch Cultural Fund.

Now this mission is completed and I wish to pay tribute to all people both in Sri Lanka and the Netherlands who have contributed to this endeavour,” She said. The new training project for Sri Lankan archaeologists will be finalised this year, at a cost of 66 million rupees, funded by the Netherlands government, Blankhart added.

Wajira Abeywardana, MP for Galle district, Kingsly T. Wickramaratne, governor Southern Province, Shan Wijayalal de Silva, chief minister Southern Province, parliamentarians and Southern Provincial Council members were present at the ceremony.

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