Economic progress in Northeast lacking - EU's Wilton

[TamilNet, Saturday, 24 May 2003, 12:38 GMT]
European Union (EU) resident representative in Sri Lanka Mr.Wouter Wilton concluding his two-day fact finding tour in the Jaffna district announced at a press conference held Saturday that "although in overall the security situation of the country is improved considerably no visible progress is seen in the economic situation of the northeast as in the south."

The press conference was held at Jaffna Bastian Hotel.

Mr.Wouter Wilton further said the normalcy anticipated by the majority of people in the northeast has not returned yet and it would take more time for a clear political solution to emerge.

Differences of opinion between the parties concerned could not be solved within one or two months as those are complicated in nature, Nevertheless he expects speedy development in the peace process, he said.

Although the EU has not yet decided on the amount of financial aid to be pledged for Sri Lanka at the Tokyo aid summit, the EU has taken into consideration the urgent need for renovation of schools and roads in the northeast province, EU resident representative said.

"EU will not be a party merely to sign cheque but the international community would play a constructive role to ensure that the aid pledged at the Tokyo summit would be used fully to the reconstruction of the northeast, said Mr. Wilton.

EU would definitely participate at the Tokyo aid summit even if the LTTE boycott it, he added.

The proposed Tokyo aid summit should be considered as a very important event where the international community is to pledge its contribution to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the northeast province. The Washington conference held last month without inviting the LTTE was only a seminar and not an aid-pledging summit, EU resident representative said.

Mr. Wilton appealed to the both parties of the Sri Lankan conflict to utilize the Tokyo aid summit as an international support base to ensure the future development of the island, sources said.

EU would provide financial assistance to the resettlement of internally displaced and to renovate all school buildings occupied by the State armed forces according to Mr. Wilton. For the resettlement of IDPs the EU is planning to provide a sum of 500 million Euros to Sri Lanka, he said.

Mr. Wilton further said the EU would provide necessary funds to provide electricity to all sentry points on the A9 highway from Jaffna to Vavuniya enabling the opening of the highway for twenty four hours a day, sources said.

At present the A9 highway is opened daily for traffic only in daytime.

Earlier in the day EU resident representative Mr, Wilton met the Bishop of Jaffna RT Rev.Thomas Soundaranayagam at Bishop's House in Jaffna, sources said.

 

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