NPC expresses peace hopes amid pessimism

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 November 2004, 11:47 GMT]
Warning that "mismatch between the goals and expectations of the government and LTTE with regard to peace talks" is a major obstacle to peace, the National Peace Council (NPC), a Colombo based Sri Lankan peace group, in a media release issued in Colombo Tuesday, said, "Norwegian facilitators could make a valuable contribution," by reorienting the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE "to approach the peace process in a manner that would ensure that both parties gain."

The full text of the media release follows:

The forthcoming visit of the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Peterson and other key Norwegian facilitators, including Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen and Special Envoy Erik Solheim, has helped to revive hopes of a resumption of the long stalled peace process. However Foreign Minister Peterson has already stated that their visit should not generate too many expectations. He has pointed out that the messages he is receiving from the parties are not very positive ones.

The LTTE's concern appears to be that the government is only seeking to restart the peace talks in order to meet the conditionality on the receipt of economic aid from the international donors. On the other hand, the government's concern appears to be that the LTTE's intention in restarting the peace talks is to obtain full and separate control over the north east of the country through its ISGA proposal.

The National Peace Council believes that the mismatch between the goals and expectations of the government and LTTE with regard to peace talks would stand as the most important obstacle to their resumption. However, by utilising their unique access to the very highest leaderships of the two sides the Norwegian facilitators can contribute greatly to preparing the ground for future peace talks.

The National Peace Council is of the view that there are three important areas where the Norwegian facilitators could make a valuable contribution. The first would be to reorient the government and LTTE to approach the peace process in a manner that would ensure that both parties gain, rather than only one party gaining while the other party loses. The Norwegian facilitators need to be skilful in pointing to the government and LTTE that there are options by which they can be guaranteed mutual gains by restarting the peace talks.

Second would be to convince the government and LTTE that the next step forward in the peace process is the setting up of interim and mechanisms of governance for the north east in the light of the agreement to explore a federal solution made at the Oslo round of peace talks in December 2002.

Third would be to persuade the government and LTTE to explain to the people what they perceive to be the obstacles to resuming the peace talks. This would permit an informed public discussion that is facilitated by the media and civil society organisations to take place on how to overcome those obstacles.

 

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