EU promises substantial contribution, says will engage Tamil Diaspora

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 26 November 2002, 04:35 GMT]
Petter Hansen from Denmark addressing the Oslo peace support conference on behalf of the European Union (EU) said that "EU stands ready to support the peace process and is committed to delivering a substantial contribution to the post-conflict rehabilitation of Sri Lanka." He added that "the EU will strengthen its engagement in the peace process" and introduced a new perspective to the support effort by asserting EU "will also engage the Tamil Diaspora to support the process."

Full text of the adress by the EU Representative follows:

"Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe Minister Foreign Affairs, Jan Petersen, LTTE Chief Negotiator, Mr.Anton Balasingham,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me from the outset express EU's appreciation to the Norwegian government for its decision to facilitate the peace process in Sri Lanka. On behalf of the EU, I would also like to thank the Norwegian government for hosting this important meeting that will hopefully make a major contribution to increased international support to the peace process in Sri Lanka.

The EU warmly welcomes the positive and conciliatory approach demonstrated by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE over the last ten months. An impressive and strong commitment has been demonstrated by the both parties to end the armed conflict hat has devastated Sri Lanka for so many years and to reach a lasting and peaceful solution to the benefit of all Sri Lankans.

Important results have been achieved since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in February. Trust and confidence have been built between the Government and the LTTE, which have paved way for long awaited commencement of peace negotiations.

During the first two sessions of talks in Thailand several important decisions have been taken. The results have improved the security situation; increased the inter-ethnic cooperation; initiated the rehabilitation of the country and increased the respect for human rights. This positive development, which has brought back the hope to the people of Sri Lanka, will have a tremendous positive effect on the economy and help to materialise Sri Lanka's economic potential.

Nevertheless, the process towards peace in Sri Lanka will be long and challenging. Filled with possible pitfalls. During the last couple of months, there have been isolated tensions among the ethnic communities in the east and some resistance towards the peace process from different groups. But instead of setting back the peace process both the Government and the LTTE have shown remarkable will to use these incidents in a positive way and to consolidate the peace process.

While underlining the need to take into account the legitimate aspirations of all communities in Sri Lanka, the EU recall our attachment to the territorial integrity and unity of Sri Lanka based on the principles of democracy. Respecting human rights and rule-of-law must at all times be guiding principle and fundamental demand to all parties on the way towards a definitive settlement to the conflict.

The EU and several member states have a long history of co-operation with Sri Lanka. With the overall objective to support the peace process and assess the possibilities of financial support, an EU Troika mission recently visited Sri Lanka. The Troika mission had useful discussions with all relevant stakeholders, and was left with the positive impression of the will and commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to continue the peace process.

Based on the results of the Troika mission the Council of the European Mission last week decided that the EU:
  • Will strengthen its engagement in the peace process in Sri Lanka and in this context also engage the Tamil Diaspora to support the process,
  • Expand the dialogue with all parties involved in the process, and
  • Mobilize funds to support immediate activities focusing on the priority areas of de-mining and return and rehabilitation of Internally Displace People.
The EU invites all parties to seize the present opportunity and promote jointly a solution to the conflict. The EU is confident that not only the negotiating parties but all political stakeholders and institutions of Sri Lanka are aware of their momentous responsibilities at this juncture: despite the complexities of the challenges, there is now a real chance for the people of Sri Lanka to establish peace in their country. This opportunity must not be missed.

Bringing peace to Sri Lanka will also have a considerable economic impact for the country. It is essential that all parties of Sri Lanka visible benefit from the peace dividend.

The EU stands ready to support the peace process and is committed to delivering a substantial contribution to the post-conflict rehabilitation of Sri Lanka. This assistance will initially focus on the immediate priority areas of de-mining and rehabilitation and Internally Displace People.

In this respect, the EU welcomes the decision taken by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to establish a Sub-Committee and a Fund on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs in the North and East. The EU looks forward to receiving more information on these institutions and hope to be able to establish a close co-operation with the Government and the LTTE on post-conflict rehabilitation.

Important results have been achieved the last ten months and with a speed which have impressed all. It is therefore of utmost importance that we don't miss this historic opportunity to finally bringing back peace and prosperity to the people of Sri Lanka.

Thank you."

 

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