Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The European Union and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

by Thinakural editorial, September 30, 3005

translation by M. Thiru

At a time when Sri Lanka is immersed in the excitement of the Presidential Election campaign, the European Union has reprimanded the LTTE, accusing them of continued use of violence and terrorism, and has banned LTTE's diplomatic delegations from visiting EU member states until further notice.  The EU also has announced that they are seriously considering whether to formally declare the LTTE as a terrorist organisation.

The political administrator of the LTTE, Mr. S.P. Thamilselvan, convened a press conference on Wednesday, the day after the E.U. announced its ban.  In that press conference, Mr. Tamilselvan requested the EU to reconsider its decision.  S.P Thamilselvan mentioned that the European Union's support was the main reason for the LTTE deciding to go for the peace talks with the Government of Sri Lanka.  Furthermore, he has expressed his grief that the EU's decision will give moral support to the Sinhala Buddhist supremacist forces, who are hell bent on not going forward with the peace process, and are raising their war flags.

Being a co-chair to the Tokyo Donor Conference (Sri Lanka) in June 2003, the EU has been expressing its stand and expectations on the Sri Lankan crisis.  During the last one and a half years the Cease Fire Agreement came under serious difficulties.  Therefore, to prevent the peace status from further deteriorating and to ensure continued peace, the EU, together with US, Japan and Norway, has been advising both the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka to fully implement the CFA.  Finally on the 19th of September, in the statement announced by the Co-Chair of the Tokyo Conference, requests were made that both parties not get involved in any matters that will jeopardize the efforts toward finding a peaceful solution to the ethnic issues after the presidential elections and that both parties must carry out constructive talks with the Norwegian special representative to find practical ways to fully implement the CFA when he visits Sri Lanka in October.

As a co-chair of the donor countries, such has been the position of EU in reflecting the concerns of the international community on the Sri Lankan crisis.  Why is it that the EU has been insisting, from that co-chair position, that the two parties involved in the peace process must quickly create an environment that is conducive for the resumption of peace talks, yet has - all of a sudden - turned around and is now taking such drastic steps against the LTTE? 

The EU in its statement, which was released last Monday ( 26/09/2005), has condemned the killing of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.  The co-chairs of the donor countries
analyzed the situation in Sri Lanka after the assassination of Laksman Kadirgamar at the meeting in New York last week.  Although they condemned the killing of Lakshman Kadirgamar, they avoided accusing the LTTE directly.  However, in the EU's statement about the travel ban on the LTTE delegations to EU member states, it is clear that Kadirgamar's killing was the main reason that influenced the EU's decision.

Even after the assassination of Kadirgamar, the Government of Sri Lanka came forward to resume the peace talks with the LTTE.  Nevertheless, it has been going all out to campaign for the international community to put pressure on the LTTE, by making use of the death of Kadirgamar who was such a prominent figure to the outside world.  The speech by President Chandrika Kumaratunge at the UN General Assembly and the Government Peace Secretariat director general Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala's campaign efforts in the international arena in recent times has revealed the Sri Lankan Government's agenda clearly. There is no doubt that Britain, the current Chair of the EU ( which is based on rotation), has exerted its strong influence in the decision of the travel ban against the LTTE.

The consequences of the EU's actions are of paramount importance in a period when the Presidential elections are going to take place.  The approach that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse is adopting is pushing the Southern polity of Sri Lanka to colder feelings regarding the ethnic crisis, that will result in a dangerous situation.  What is the message the EU is sending by imposing a travel ban on the LTTE during such a time when the Sinhala Buddhist supremacist forces (who are rallying behind PM Mahinda Rajapakse) are vehemently opposing any compromise or meaningful relationship with the LTTE by the mainstream Sinhala polity and when terrorism can be used as an excuse to achieve the political agenda of the Sinhala Buddhist supremacists?

The Sinhala Buddhist supremacists have always accused the western countries of being influential and biased towards the LTTE in the peace effort facilitated by Norway with the full support by the EU.  The supremacists have always demanded that the involvement of the international community in the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis must be reduced.  However, one is able to see that, when the EU banned the LTTE delegations visiting member states, the same Sinhala Buddhist supremacists have welcomed that decision and are celebrating it.  It is clearly evident from this that such a ban will be used by the forces that are against the peace efforts and against any reasonable political aspirations claimed by the minorities.  Therefore, what is the message the European Union is trying to give to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka by such actions?

We strongly believe that the steps taken by the EU has created an unhealthy situation which will make the Government in Colombo believe that, even if it does not go forward with the peace process for a solution to the ethnic crisis, the international community will ensure that the LTTE does not go for war again.  The Sinhalese polity will further believe that it can drag the time indefinitely without granting any solution to the Tamil people and can continue carrying out their political business as usual.


Posted October 8, 2005