Stable cease-fire between armies of GOSL, LTTE must for peace- Balasingham

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 September 2002, 09:18 GMT]
Addressing a press conference at the Sattahip naval base in Thailand Wednesday after the conclusion of the three-day peace talks between the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers, the head of the LTTE’s team, Mr. Anton Balasingham said that a stable cease-fire between the standing armies and naval forces of the LTTE and the GOSL is important for laying a firm foundation for peace. “The LTTE is very happy with the proceedings and we have taken a few decisions,” he said.

Prof. G. L Peiris, head of the GOSL team, said that both parties are agreed on making a common appeal for foreign funds to rebuild and rehabilitate the northeast.

“There will be meetings with donors and there will be a pledging conference in the next few months”, Prof. Pieris said.

Mr. Eric Soleheim, of the delegation of the Norwegian government, was the moderator of the press conference.

Thailand talks, 18 September 2002.
Mr.Anton Balasingham, the head of the LTTE delegation speaking to journalists after the press briefing at Ambasssdor City Jonmtien Hotel, 18 September 2002.
Answering a question by the Hindustan Times about the role of the few Tamil groups which are not with the LTTE, Mr. Anton Balasingham said that those minor groups too can take part in any electoral process under the proposed interim administration in the Northeast. “The Muslims will play an important role because the Tamil homeland is also their territory,” he said.

Answering another question he said: “We were in touch with our leader regarding every aspect of the proceedings here. He is very happy with the process.”

In response to questions about the LTTE’s commitment to the peace process Mr. Balasingham said:

“I do not agree with the critics when they blame the LTTE was not concerned or interested in the peace process. The LTTE has been participating in the peace process on several occasions from 1985 at Thimpu until the present time. On several occasions we have expressed our willingness to negotiate with the government of Sri Lanka.”

“We are now confident that the present peace process is going to advance and succeed because of the main reason that this is the first time a third party is involved and is guiding the peace process between the parties in conflict. Secondly a stable foundation for peace is established. The cease-fire is holding for the last seven months. A stable ceasefire is very crucial for the concerted effort to lay a stable foundation. The third factor is that there is an international monitoring mission comprising Nordic and Scandinavian countries supervising the ceasefire.”

“The international community for the first time is focusing on the dialogue of peace process between the government and the LTTE. Fifthly we have a team. I appreciate that this time the Sri Lankan government has produced a team with men of calibre and understanding; and we can relate to them and we can discuss with them. We have discussed many complicated issues from core issues, substantive issues and peripheral issues. We were able to proceed positively. I am very much confident that the present peace process will succeed”.

Answering a question whether the disarming the LTTE was discussed, Mr.Balasingham said: “ There is no question of disarmament at this early stage of the discussion. You know very well both parties- the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE have two standing armies, two navies and this is the first time a stable cease-fire has been established. Your question of disarming and decommissioning the LTTE will not arise until we reach a permanent settlement that will satisfy the aspirations of Tamil people.”

Answering a question about possible ulterior motives on the part of India regarding the peace process, Mr.Soleheim and Prof. G. L Peiris asserted that New Delhiis solidly behind the talks and is keen to demilitarise the problem in Sri Lanka.

 

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