The Governments of Sri Lanka and Italy on Friday (20th May) signed the Bilateral Agreement for the Mutual Recognition of Driving Licences in each others’ territories.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Italy, Mr. Hemantha Warnakulasuriya PC, signed the Agreement on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy this (20thMay) evening. The Government of Italy was represented by Ambassador and Minister Andrea Perugini Head of Global Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy.
Speaking at the ceremony for the Exchange of Notes, Ambassador Warnakulasuriya expressed Sri Lanka’s warm and sincere gratitude to the Government of Italy for its partnership for the realization of this agreement, which is significantly one of the first among non-European countries and Italy.
He observed that the agreement signified the warm and productive nature of the Italy-Sri Lanka relationship and noted the immense benefit that would accrue to the Sri Lankan expatriate community and their further successful integration into Italian society. Ambassador Warnakulasuriya characterized Italy’s relationship with Sri Lanka as the friendliest in the European sector and said the present agreement is symbolic of this friendship.
In his remarks, Italy’s Ambassador Andrea Perugini re-iterated that this agreement - one of the first among non-European countries with Italy - is symbolic of the excellent, warm bi-lateral relationship between Sri Lanka and Italy. While expressing Italy’s continuing desire to strengthen this relationship, Ambassador Perugini expressed his warm sentiments to Ambassador Warnakulasuriya for the fine contribution he has made during his tenure for the strengthening of the bilateral engagement.
The Agreement signed on Friday will facilitate - within a transparent, predictable and legal process - the acquisition of a valid licence to drive in Italian territory by those Sri Lankans who are in possession of a driving licence and who have been resident in Italy for a period of less than 4 years at the time of application and having obtained the Sri Lankan driving licence prior to acquisition of residence in Italy.
Under the provisions of the Agreement, eligible Sri Lankans could obtain a valid Italian driving licence through the conversion of a valid Sri Lankan driving licence after following the stipulated procedure and provision of necessary duly authenticated documentation. The process towards operationalization would now begin and is expected to take a few months for completion.
The Agreement signed on Friday fills a long felt need of the Sri Lankan community in Italy for its further integration into Italian society, both socially and economically. The Agreement is considered a particular gesture by the Italian Government to Sri Lanka, taking into account the warm bilateral relations between the two countries. The gesture is also reflective of the contribution and appreciation of the Sri Lankan community in Italy and their successful integration into Italian society.
The Agreement is a result of intense negotiations between the two Governments over a period of several months, culminating in a comprehensive legal framework which facilitates the mutual recognition and conversion of driving licences in each others’ territories.
Embassy of Sri Lanka – Rome
Friday, 20th May 2011