‘EU proscription will seriously damage peace process’ - Balasingham

[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 May 2006, 08:34 GMT]
Further international proscriptions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will seriously impact negatively on the already weakened peace process in Sri Lanka, the LTTE’s Chief Negotiator and Political Strategist Anton Balasingham said Thursday. Asked by TamilNet for his comments to press reports that the European Union (EU) would ban the LTTE this week, Mr. Balasingham warned that “the hardliners in the south are urgently seeking the international isolation of the LTTE as a prelude to taking up the military option in earnest.”

Anton Balasingham
“Further proscriptions will invigorate the hardline elements in the south, including those in the present Sri Lankan government urging the military defeat of the LTTE and silence those advocating a negotiated solution,” Mr. Balasingham said.

“The more the international community alienates the LTTE, the more the LTTE will be compelled to tread a hardline individualist path,” Mr. Balasingham said.

The LTTE’s actions and policies are dictated by the deteriorating objective conditions on the ground and not only the international community’s preferences, Mr. Balasingham, who has led the LTTE’s delegations in several sets of negotiations with different Sri Lankan governments, said.

For at least two years, the Sri Lankan state has been waging a ‘shadow war’ against the LTTE, Mr. Balasingham pointed out. “This shadow war has now transformed into a low-intensity war.”

“Emboldened by international support, and especially by further proscriptions of the LTTE, the Sinhala hardline elements will undoubtedly take steps to further escalate the violence and precipitate a war in which they hope to destroy the LTTE,” he said. “If this happens, the LTTE will be compelled to resist.”

“As such [an EU ban] is not going to help bring about peace, [but] will only serve to exacerbate the conditions of war and endanger the lives of Tamil civilians entrapped by Sinhala occupation forces,” Mr. Balasingham further said.

Reuters Thursday quoted international diplomats in Colombo as saying the EU would include the LTTE on its list of banned organisations with days, possibly by Friday.

“A decision in principle is due within the next couple of days,” a EU diplomat said on Wednesday (17 May) according to Reuters.

EU member the UK as well as the United States, Canada and India have already listed the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group and the reports come soon after a senior US official said Washington had urged the EU to also follow suit.

"We will talk to the EU about this. The EU needs to consult among its 25 members and take a decision," Donald Camp, US principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs was quoted as saying earlier this week.

The EU imposed a travel ban on the Tamil Tigers last October.

But the terror list measure is still awaiting a rubber-stamp from the 25 member states of the bloc, all of which must agree.

 

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