Celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations, Sri Lanka and Türkiye issues special commemorative stamps

As a part of celebrating the 75th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Türkiye in 2023, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Ankara, Türkiye in collaboration with Turkish Post and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye launched the 75th anniversary Special Commemorative stamps today in Ankara at the Official Residence of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Türkiye.

Marking this important milestone for Sri Lanka and Türkiye, Special Commemorative Stamps and the Special First Day Covers, were designed by a Sri Lankan artist on gratis basis, for both countries and launched today (08 December) simultaneously in Türkiye and Sri Lanka.

In Ankara, Türkiye, the Special First Day Covers with stamp were handed over by Mr. Menderes Pınarbaşı, representing Turkish Post and Mr. Murat Dikmen, Head of the Department of Overseas Promotion and Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Ambassador Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake, at her official residence.

In turn, Ambassador Dissanayake presented the Special First Day Covers with the stamp to Ambassador Oğuzhan Ertuğrul, Director General for South Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye, Mr. Mahmut Uluer, Hony. Consul for Sri Lanka in Nevşehir and to Mr. Vasantha Perera.

The launch of such stamps in both countries were conceptualized by the Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Türkiye initially and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Ankara was closely coordinating with the Department of Overseas Promotion and Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye and the Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts of Sri Lanka for several months to complete the processes.

The special commemorative stamps were designed by Mr. Vasantha Perera for both Sri Lanka and Türkiye to celebrate the 75 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He also contributed with the design for the brochure compiled by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Ankara for both Turkish and Sri Lankan participants.

Vasantha is an eminent self-taught artist from Sri Lanka. His early talent manifested itself in naturalistic paintings from childhood, setting the stage for a lifetime of artistic exploration. His contributions to the Sri Lanka Philatelic Bureau is remarkable with the designing of 39 unique stamps, particularly celebrating wildlife and nature, which has garnered international praise, symbolizing his place in the annals of world art history.

Ambassador of Sri Lanka in her speech described that the commemorative stamps illustrate the depiction of two significant places in Sri Lanka and Türkiye. The depiction of Sigiriya viewed from Pidurangala in Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a 5th Century Royal Palace, beautifully landscaped gardens, exotic paintings (fresco) of damsels and an intricate water supply system in one stamp and in the other the depiction of Cappadocia in Central Anatolian region in Türkiye which is best known for its unique geological features called fairy chimneys, underground cities and cave churches. She added that the link between the two stamps are the hot air balloons in Sri Lanka and Türkiye, operated by Mr. Mahmut Uluer who also happens to be the Hony. Consul for Sri Lanka in Nevsehir Region in Türkiye.

Explaining the story behind the depiction in the Special First Day Cover, she explained that the depiction of the residence is in fact the “Villa Stamboul” in Sri Lanka, built by Sir Mohamed Marcan Marker, Hony. Consul for the Ottoman Empire in Sri Lanka from 1903 to 1923, who named his villa after the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, spelt as “Stamboul”, which was easier to pronounce by Sri Lankans.

Ambassador also thanked the Turkish Post and particularly the Department of Overseas Promotion and Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their unstinted cooperation to ensure a successful outcome of the initiative at a short period of time. She also thanked Vasantha Perera, for not only designing the stamps for both countries, but also coordinating the technical aspects and approval processes in both countries, without which, this special issuance would not have been possible.

It was interesting to note that it appeared that it is the first time a Sri Lankan has designed a stamp for a foreign country, while for Türkiye, also it appeared to be the first time that a foreigner has designed a Turkish stamp.

Yet another uniqueness associated with this issuance of stamps was that it is generally unusual for Türkiye to issue stamps to commemorate bilateral relations with a foreign country and thus, the Ambassador expressed that it is an honour and a privilege for Sri Lanka to be a pioneering country with this opportunity.

The representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other guests, especially the Turkish community admired the concept and the unique design, and above all the efforts taken by the Embassy of Sri Lanka and the Department of Overseas Promotion and Cultural Affairs to make the issuance of these special commemorative stamps a reality in both Türkiye and Sri Lanka.

Over 50 attendees including parliamentarians, officials from the Turkish Post, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Ambassadors based in Ankara, Honorary Consuls of Sri Lanka in Türkiye, Turkish academicians, former Ambassadors of Türkiye to Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan community, and Turkish community were present and witnessed the special ceremony.

As customarily the guests were also treated to Sri Lankan delicacies.