Switzerland assures impartial support to resolve SL conflict

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 10:41 GMT]
Pointing out that the decision to hold talks itself has "substantially decreased" violence in Sri Lanka, Urs Ziswiler, Political Affairs Director, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said in his opening remarks that "Switzerland aims at providing impartial support for conflict transformation in Sri Lanka," and the crucial goal of the teams is to "jointly ensure the human security of ordinary Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim people in Sri Lanka."

Full text of Mr Ziswiler's statement delivered at the opening day of the Geneva Talks on the Cease Fire Agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on 22 February 2006 follows:

Urs Ziswiler, Political Affairs Director, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Urs Ziswiler, Political Affairs Director, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Heads of Delegations, Delegates, Advisors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all let me welcome you here to Château Bossey. We are happy that the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE have decided to hold talks on strengthening the implementation of the Cease Fire Agreement at a moment when political violence in Sri Lanka has been putting it under great strain. I would also like to express our gratitude to the facilitator of the peace process, the Norwegian Government, and to Minister Solheim in particular, as well as to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission for their tireless efforts to support the peace process.

The decision to hold these talks has in itself already been a much appreciated confidence building measure, as a result of which the violence in Sri Lanka has substantially decreased since the end of January this year. Other such measures have followed in the last few days. I hope that the coming two days will see more confidence building – on concrete foundations that will help secure the implementation of the Cease Fire Agreement. This is first and foremost the responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. I also hope that in this way the peace process will, in time, gain new life because, as we have seen in the last four years, the stronger the implementation of the Cease Fire Agreement, the better life is for ordinary people in Sri Lanka. In this context, let me mention the particular importance of respect for human rights in the peace process. Opportunities to become more active in this field exist for instance in the provisions of the Cease Fire Agreement itself, as well as in the proposals of the international advisor on human rights to the peace process in Sri Lanka.

We are very pleased that, finally, you decided to meet in Switzerland, following considerable discussion on the venue of the talks. Our offer to host these “Geneva Talks” came in the framework of our continuing efforts to support the peace process, human rights and development, as well as post-conflict and post-tsunami reconstruction. With these activities Switzerland aims at providing impartial support for conflict transformation in Sri Lanka.

It is exactly four years ago today since the Cease Fire Agreement was signed. In the meantime the conditions of life of the people of Sri Lanka have certainly improved in comparison with those during the war. But we still have a no-war-no-peace situation in Sri Lanka. Let me ask the question: How will things look in February 2010, in another four years from now? Because in the end, this must be the crucial goal: to jointly ensure the human security of ordinary Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim people in Sri Lanka and their prospects to live "free from fear" in freedom, peace and with the chance to determine and develop their lives according to their wishes within a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious Sri Lanka.

We hope that the spirit of Geneva will be conducive to your work in the coming two days as well as in the months ahead. Switzerland is, and will always be available to support the peace process if the need arises.

 

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