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German hamlet of Asia

The silent waves of Gulf of Mannar towards the sandy shores of Marawila, a western coastal town of Sri Lanka was creating a symphony of ecstasy, made by mind often in a state of standstill.


Dietmar Doring, the Founder/Director of the AGSEP (extreme left) with some of the student participants of the ‘Night of a Thousand Dinners’ event which was held recently at the Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, Marawila, Sri Lanka.

Watching the horizon of the shiny blue sky, above the Indian Ocean, while sipping blended coffee is always an unforgettable experience at the beach-end restaurant of Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, which is surrounded by greeneries of scenic view, which is unique only to this Island-paradise.

More than enjoying the taste of the nature's gifts around there, conversing on the issues of world affairs focusing Germany and rest of the Europe will become always a hot topic in the restaurant and will make at times, the environment into a German hamlet of Asia.

The Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, which hosts the Asian-German Sports Exchange Program (AGSEP), a Non-Governmental Organisation, operating in the development political sector with a partner office is in Essen, Germany.

The Resort also accommodates the Sri Lanka division of the International Institute for Ratings and Consultancy (IIRC), a German based Think-Tank, which facilitates surveys and consultancy and currently carrying out a survey on the tsunami devastations for presenting donors around the world.

My association with these institutions after the tsunami disaster has made me to visit often there and gave me a chance to know more about the German history, economy and cultural issues through my conversation with students of leading German universities who are in their exchange programs and doing their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the fields of economics, political science, social science, engineering and other disciplines.

Dietmar Doring, the founder/director of the AGSEP and the country director of the IIRC was an amateur national coach for the table tennis team of Sri Lanka and could be proud of his decision to use the sports events as a medium for encouraging peace in this island, has gone a long way.

He has salvaged his personal trauma of the war-torn experience by the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka and beyond that by the lasting trauma caused by the destructions in Germany in the major world - wars.

The dedication of Dietmar Doring and his AGSEP students who have done a memorable service to this Island in the tsunami period and thereafter, by importing goods and medicines directly from Germany which is worth more than US$ 5 Million cannot be forgotten by Sri Lankans forever.

Their kind and caring nature has prompted me to associate with AGSEP in number of ways and it is an unforgettable experience in associating with them.

Recently we had a joint event of the AGSEP and the PDIP: A Think-Tank on Post Conflict, Economic and Gender issues at the restaurant of the Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, the "Night of a Thousand Dinners", an initiative of Adopt-A-Minefield, a program of the United Nations Association of the USA and the Canadian Landmine Foundation that began as an opportunity for people and institutions globally to come together on a single night, enjoy a meal and help solve the global landmine crisis with discussions on world affairs.

The event was observed a couple of years ago first time in Sri Lanka by the PDIP with the participation of its Patron Dr. James W. Spain, a former US Ambassador for Sri Lanka and the UN with a global participation of the US State Department and its embassies, the Canadian Foreign Ministry and its consulates, the American Chambers of Commerce and Rotary International.

The event has given me an opportunity to address and share various international issues with German students and others and has taken me back to the Second World Era of Germany.

Even in Germany there had been acts of resistance against the Nazis by individuals or resistance groups throughout the years. They came from all walks of life.

A bomb attack initiated by Graf Stauffenberg and other resistance fighters on July 20, 1944 failed: Hitler survived and had more than 4,000 people executed in retaliation. The war continued, claiming huge casualties on both sides, until the Allies occupied the entire German Reich. Hilter committed suicide on April 30, 1945 and a week later the darkest chapter in the history of Germany was brought to an end with the country's unconditional capitulation.

The hardship, which German people suffered and underwent thereafter, has left them into a lasting trauma, which is so difficult to overcome even in the next centuries.

When I was quoting in my brief speech at the dinner that the tragedy where by March, 1945 as the advancing Soviets under the slogan, "There will be no pity.

They have sown the wind and now they are harvesting the whirlwind" tortured at east two million German women in an undisciplined advance that is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass violation against women in history, I too experienced the horror of many decades back in Germany through the eyes of those young female German students who were participating in the event.

Now the search for inner-peace by finding peace in other countries and helping others who are affected by the war and natural disaster, is the only objective for these young Germans.

Consequently achieving a positive contribution to the re-establishment of peace in the war-ravaged country with the help of sporting events the AGSEP aims to help the divided ethnic groups to become closer together and to give an impulse towards peace and spread the message beyond the shores of this Island.

My discussion with Marita Kanter, a postgraduate diploma student in the field of managing social science and working for a leading German University has given me a chance to be better informed about the role of the German Government and its people towards the international community.

Germans are open-minded, modern and tolerant people and these are the hallmarks of German society at the beginning of the 21st century. For the vast majority of people, the family still forms the nucleus of their lives, yet the forms people choose for living together have become far more numerous.

Supported by consistent measures by the state to ensure equality, there has been a chance in the interpretation of the roles men and women play. An increasing number of couples are now sharing domestic chores and the task of bringing up children, who are regarded as the prents' partners.

Violence as part of bringing up children is despised, whereas peaceful co-existence with people from other countries and cultures has become part and parcel of everyday life. Around nine percent of the population is foreign. In every sixth marriage, one of the partners has a foreign passport.

My discussions with Gunther Wagner, the founder/director of the IIRC, a retired officer of the then East German Air Force turned entrepreneur and with his coordinators and consultants Stefanie Vilein, Pascal Sadaune, Romy Geiser and Maik Kastnev gave me a clear picture about the German economy today.

The German economy has transformed from a war-torn economy to the one of the best in the world. The German economy is ranking third in terms of total economic output. In terms of exports, Germany takes first place worldwide. The country continues to be an attractive market for foreign investors, offering a superbly developed infrastructure and a highly motivated, well-qualified work force. Top-notch research and development projects are additional hallmarks of the country.

Compared with other industrial nations the German economy has an almost unprecedented international focus. Companies generate almost a third of their profits through exports, and almost one in four jobs are dependent on foreign trade. The high level of international competitiveness is most evident where companies vie with others in the international arena. Despite the slump in world trade, the share of exports expanded at a higher than average rate.

The present Germany is playing a very important role in the European Union. When the EU is expanded to include 25 member states in 2004, the repercussions of the Cold War and Europe's division into two camps have finally been eliminated.

(The writer is the Secretary - General of the PDIP: A Think - Tank on Post Conflict, Economic and Gender issues).

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