Co-Chairs reiterate commitment, demand action

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 05:39 GMT]
As Sinhala nationalist forces opposed to a negotiated federal solution, Norwegian facilitation and the western influence, were gaining momentum in the South and a shadow war was being waged in the NorthEast, the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference, who met in New York Monday reaffirmed their strong support to Norway as facilitator and a federal solution as a framework. The Co-Chairs called on the Liberation Tigers to end political assassinations, recruitment of under age youth and underlined the responsibility of the Sri Lankan government to "disarm or relocate" paramilitary groups from the NorthEast. They expressed fear that the Cease Fire is facing its "most serious challenge".

The Co-Chairs of Sri Lanka’s donors – the US, EU. Japan and Norway called on the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan government to resume talks on the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement. The Co-Chairs condemned the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Kadirgamar in August and whilst not explicitly blaming the LTTE, said "this unconscionable act of terrorism casts profound doubt on the commitment of those responsible to a peaceful and political resolution of the conflict."

Saying the Norwegian-brokered peace process “is facing its most serious challenge since the Ceasefire Agreement came into force in February 2002,” the Co-Chairs “deplore the activities of paramilitary groups, which fuel the cycle of violence and unrest” and called on Sri Lanka to disarm them.

The Co-Chairs’ meeting was hosted by Mr. Vidar Helegesen, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and attended by EU Commissioner Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Special Representative, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Mr. Yasushi Akashi, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Mrs. Christina Rocca, and Mr. Tom Philips, Director South Asia and Afghanistan with Britain’s Foreign Office.

The full text of the Co-chairs’ statement issued by the US Embassy in Colombo after Monday’s meeting follows:

Statement of the Sri Lanka Co-Chairs
19 September 2005

The Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference in support of the peace process in Sri Lanka met in New York on 19 September to discuss the current situation in Sri Lanka, following the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Kadirgamar.

The Co-Chairs reiterate their unequivocal condemnation of the assassination of the Foreign Minister. This unconscionable act of terrorism casts profound doubt on the commitment of those responsible to a peaceful and political resolution of the conflict.

The Co-Chairs call on the LTTE to take immediate public steps to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and their willingness to change. An immediate end to political assassinations by the LTTE and an end to LTTE recruitment of child soldiers are two such steps.

The Co-Chairs believe that the peace process between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is facing its most serious challenge since the Ceasefire Agreement came into force in February 2002. The Ceasefire Agreement remains the essential anchor of the peace process and is put at grave risk by the continuing violence. Effective implementation of the agreement is the responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE.

The Co-Chairs commend the Government of Sri Lanka for its restraint following the assassination of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar and for its willingness to discuss the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE. The Co-Chairs are disappointed that the LTTE have not agreed to the proposed venue for talks with the Government of Sri Lanka about implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement. The Co-Chairs urge both parties to engage constructively with special representative of Norway, Major General Furuhovde, during his planned visit in October to find practical ways of improving implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement.

The Co-Chairs deplore the activities of paramilitary groups, which fuel the cycle of violence and unrest. The Co-Chairs underscore the responsibility of the Sri Lankan government under the Ceasefire Agreement to disarm or relocate these groups from the north and east.

The future of Sri Lanka lies in the hands of the people of Sri Lanka. The forthcoming elections are a time of political choice in Sri Lanka. It is natural that there will be vigorous debate on the best way forward in the peace process. The Co-Chairs look to all parties to refrain from violence and from statements and acts that could undermine progress toward the peaceful resolution of the conflict after the elections.

The Co-Chairs hope that the peace process will be reinvigorated following the elections. The Co-Chairs reiterate that a peaceful resolution of the conflict can only be achieved through a negotiated political settlement that follows the principles agreed in Oslo in December 2002 to explore a solution based on a federal model within a united Sri Lanka, and which ensures democracy and full respect for human rights and the legitimate rights of all ethnic groups.

Nearly a year has passed since the tsunami, and the Co-Chairs reiterate that the international community remains fully committed to implementing the pledges made for tsunami reconstruction. Cooperation between the Sri Lankan government, the LTTE and the Muslim community will be important for sustainable recovery in the north and east.

Finally, the Co-Chairs wish to thank outgoing Norwegian Foreign Minister Petersen and Deputy Minister Helgesen for their tireless efforts at facilitating the peace process in Sri Lanka. We reaffirm our strong support to Norway as facilitator.

 

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