EU urges easing of embargo

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 December 2000, 08:46 GMT]
The European Union, whilst discussing financial assistance for the Sri Lankan government Monday, urged negotiations to end the protracted conflict in Sri Lanka and called for a lasting solution which would take "substantial account of the aspirations" of the Tamils within Sri Lanka's territorial integrity and unity. A declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on Sri Lanka at the World Bank Development Forum, also urged the Sri Lankan government to ease the hardships of the displaced people in the north-east and welcomed the Norwegian peace initiative, whilst expressing concern at defence expenditure. The EU also said "the ethnic conflict and shortcomings in government are hampering" Sri Lanka's development.

"The European Union thus invites the parties [to the conflict] to start negotiations without delay to conclude a lasting peace taking substantial account of the aspirations of the Tamil minority and not breaching the intangible principle of the territorial integrity and unity of Sri Lanka," the declaration said.

"The European Union therefore encourages Sri Lankan civil society and the political forces to reach national consensus on a peace plan to be presented to the LTTE," it said.

"[The EU] supports the dialogue "facilitator" mission assumed by Norway since February 2000. It has also stressed the importance of the first meeting with Mr Eric Solheim and the leader of the LTTE, Mr Velupillai Prabhakaran on 1 November 2000," the statement said.

EU said it is "concerned by the large proportion of the State budget devoted to military expenditure, which is compromising the country's development," pointing out that the "prospect of good economic performance in the long term requires the determined pursuit of indispensable structural reforms and of good governance as well as the introduction of simplified government procedures together with the restoration of peace."

The EU said it draws "[the government's] attention to their extreme social, moral and physical precariousness of the [displaced people in the North and East] and urges the Government to do everything within its power to improve their lot, particularly through better access to humanitarian aid and improved freedom of movement," even though it recognizes the government's efforts.

The European Union said it "supports the process which made it possible to draw up the programme of aid, rehabilitation and reconciliation and asks the Sri Lankan Government to implement its recommendations as swiftly as possible."

 

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