2nd lead

LTTE, GOSL reach exploratory agreement

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 December 2002, 12:04 GMT]
The government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam reached an exploratory agreement Thursday to “explore a solution to end the island’s conflict founded on the principle of internal self determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka”. “Sri Lanka needs a new constitution that would radically transform its polity," said Chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers, Mr. Anton Balasingham, addressing a joint press conference Thursday morning at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Oslo.

Responding to a question about President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s powers to dissolve Parliament at her discretion from 5 December, Mr. Balasingham and GOSL’s chief negotiator, Prof. G. L Peiris said that they were not concerned about such an eventuality because the people are firmly behind the peace process.

“President Chandrika Kumaratunga should realise that the international community is fully supportive of the peace process. She should conduct herself politically without trying to undermine the peace process and we are not concerned that she would do anything to scuttle the peace process because the Sinhala public is backing the government. If the government were dissolved it would come back with a bigger majority”, Mr. Balasingham said.

Oslo press conference

“We would be delighted if the parliament is dissolved because it would enhance our majority. We are not afraid to go to the people”, Prof. Peiris said.

“It is as far as the LTTE is concerned in line with the policy of the LTTE advocating for the last decades or more. That is a regional autonomous model based on the right to internal self-determination of our people in the historical areas where the Tamil and Muslim people live. This model of self-government we were referring to has to be couched or properly conceptualised within an appropriate constitutional form. That is why we decided that we would opt for a federal model. This federal model will be within a united Sri Lanka, which will be appreciated by the Sinhalese people. I wish to reiterate that our struggle was based on the concept of self determination as articulated in the UN charter and other resolutions and instruments. I am surprised because prior to this I had a meeting in London where I clearly exemplified the concept of internal self-determination and also the external self-determination and argued that our leadership is prepared to workout a formula within the principle of internal self-determination. This speech had been totally distorted by “The Island.” I am surprised that this claim that Balasingham had said that he favours two independent states or something like that. I can assure that this is total distortion of what I have enunciated at the London conference. This is not a paradigm shift on our part but a paradigm shift on the part of the Sri Lankan government as well”, said Mr. Balasingham.

Minister G.L. Peiris commenting on the decision said: "Balasingham is entirely correct when he says a paradigm shift which not more or less that has occurred in Oslo in the last three days of healthy discussions. In Mr. Prabhakarans hero’s day speech he said that the LTTE is no longer insisting on a separate state. And the LTTE is looking at a separate concept, which is internal self-determination. It was power sharing. Extensive power sharing within the framework of one country. No question of secession, no question of separation. But power sharing within the framework of one country. That is the point of departure. Immediately that provided us with a coherent framework to evolve a negotiated political solution. The position of the government of Sri Lanka is also that it stands for substantial power sharing within one country. The breakthrough yesterday was that the explicit identification of a federal structures the basis on which a political solution will be evolved. Now we have a clear of the nature of the political solution the parties are working towards. It is not separatism, it is not confederation”.

Oslo conference
Mr. Balasingham met the Tamil press after the press conference, assisted by Col. V. Karuna (right) and Mr. S. P Thamilchelvan

“The peace process is built on a firm foundation supervised by international monitors. It is a process that will move forward stage by stage. We will jointly make a serious and sincere effort to make it a reality”,Mr. Balasingham said. “We are convinced our people will definitely approve the model and it will have the consensus of the Tamil speaking people. It is the duty of the state to convince the Sinhalese to offer a reasonable solution to the Tamil speaking people”, he said.

When asked about the demarcation of the Tamil territory Mr. Balasingham said that traditionally they were looking for the north and the East where the Tamil speaking people have been living for a long time.

Mr. Balasingham also gave an assurance that both the government and the LTTE would look into the Muslim factor and the grievances of the Muslims. He said the LTTE welcomes an effective Muslim representation at the talks. It is unfortunate that the SLMC is having an internal crisis. But he said he would not like to comment on the matter.

Answering questions Mr. Balasingham said the matter in question – the federal solution has to be discussed in depth. Sri Lanka needs a new constitution to evolve a framework to suite our needs.

Minister G.L. Peiris answering the same question said that the government would be delighted to go for elections. If there’s an election it will enhance our majority.

Replying to a question posed by the media as to the model they are looking for to structure the federal model in Sri Lanka Minister Peiris said that they were not going to adopt one single model but explore ways and means how we could devise such a model to suit the needs of the country. Mr Balasingham said that they are favouring the Canadian model, the Quebec system which has the right for internal and external self-determination. “However we will not compartmentalise and will study all the systems available in depth” Mr. Balasingham said.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the Royal Norwegian Government at the conclusion of the third secession of the first round of peace talks between the LTTE and the GOSL on 5 December.

Oslo, 5 December 2002
Parties have decided to explore a political solution founded on internal self-determination based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka

The third session of peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was held in Oslo, Norway on 2 to 5 December 2002. In a frank, open and constructive manner, the parties focused on three major areas:

  • Consolidation of the ceasefire
  • Humanitarian and rehabilitation action
  • Political matters

The parties agreed on a working outline defining the objective as well as a number of substantive political issues for negotiation.

Responding to a proposal by the leadership of the LTTE, the parties agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. The parties acknowledged that the solution has to be acceptable to all communities.

Guided by this objective, the parties agreed to initiate discussions on substantive political issues such as, but not limited to:

  • Power-sharing between the centre and the region, as well as within the centre
  • Geographical region
  • Human Rights protection
  • Political and administrative mechanism
  • Public finance
  • Law and order

The parties recognised that progress on political issues must be supported by the continued consolidation of the Ceasefire Agreement. New concrete measures will be taken to facilitate further de-escalation and to improve normalcy:

  • The GOSL will shortly return one of the hotels in Jaffna to its original use
  • The LTTE will ensure that all future transportation of area commanders will take place under the supervision of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM)
  • The LTTE will accept the right of political groups to carry out political work, including in the Jaffna peninsula and the islands, provided that they are unarmed, as stipulated by the Ceasefire Agreement
  • The GOSL will, in consultation with all relevant parties and groups, evolve a solution to the problems arising from recent developments in the Delft island
  • The parties will facilitate restoration and rehabilitation of places of worship in the north and the east belonging to all religious communities.

On the basis of their firm conviction that the maintenance of law and order in the north and east is of paramount importance, the parties agreed to request the Sub-Committee on De-escalation and Normalization to propose a common approach to settling cases involving the disputed use of private property, where such use has been impeded by the conflict. Furthermore, the LTTE will ensure that the activities of their law and order mechanisms will not be extended beyond the areas dominated by the LTTE.

The parties strongly underlined the need to move rapidly on humanitarian and rehabilitation efforts in the north and east. For this purpose, the early establishment of the North-East Reconstruction Fund will be critical. The parties agreed that the custodian of the fund should be selected and modalities for its operation agreed at the next meeting of the Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs. The parties expressed their appreciation of the strong support extended by several governments to the peace process at the Sri Lanka Support Meeting held in Oslo on 25 November, and urged these governments to rapidly release funds needed for humanitarian and rehabilitation efforts.

The parties agreed that a committee of women will be instituted to explore the effective inclusion of gender issues in the peace process. The committee will also, on a regular basis, submit proposals relating to women’s interests to the sessions of negotiations and to the sub-committees of the peace process. The committee will consist of four representatives of each party.

As a priority area identified by the parties for humanitarian action, the parties stressed the need to improve the situation for children affected by armed conflict. Inspired by the international norms protecting the rights of the child, the parties underlined that children belong with their families or other custodians and not in the workplace, whether civilian or military. The LTTE will engage in a partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to draw up an action plan for restoring normalcy to the lives of children, and the parties called on the international community to provide financial support for such an action plan.

The GOSL will, in order to arrive at the broadest possible consensus, establish an appropriate mechanism for consultation with all segments of opinion as part of the ongoing peace process.


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