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Govt. concerned over replacement of EU monitors

SCOPP questions LTTE's contradictory stance on Anton Balasingham

COLOMBO: The Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) in a release yesterday scoffed at the LTTE demand for the removal of SLMM monitors from European Union countries as LTTE theoretician and head of the peace delegation Anton Balasingham is himself an EU citizen, residing in an EU country.

It is surprising that the LTTE does not find his citizenship not detrimental to its notion of EU countries having 'disturbed the neutrality', the statement said.

The statement: "The Government rejects the rationale behind the LTTE's demand for the removal of SLMM monitors from EU countries and agrees with the observation made by the Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim quoted in the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) Media Release of June 22 that "the LTTE's demand that SLMM monitors from EU countries be replaced is deeply regrettable and will weaken the SLMM in a critical period."

RNG in its press release has said that the LTTE responded "positively" to only Questions 1, 3 and 4 of the set of five questions that Norway had placed before the Government and the LTTE on matters relating to the security of the SLMM and its composition.

The "positive" response by the LTTE relates to the LTTE's commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) as well as its acceptance of a possible amendment to Article 3.5 of the CFA "in order to enable the continued functioning of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission at its current operational level and with the necessary security guarantees".

Further, according to the RNG media release, the LTTE had insisted on the removal of SLMM monitors from the EU Countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden), since the "European Union ban on the LTTE has seriously disturbed" the "neutrality" of these countries.

The response of the LTTE to Question 2 on "diplomatic immunity" is irrelevant since the granting of diplomatic immunity is the sole responsibility of sovereign States.

In addition to the RNG Media Release, Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar at a meeting with Dr. Palitha Kohona, Secretary General, SCOPP on June 21 indicated that the LTTE had insisted that any change in the SLMM composition aimed at excluding EU Members must be effected within a month, as opposed to a six-month transitional period with full security guarantee as recommended by the Norwegian facilitator.

But a verbatim or written response of the LTTE to the five questions was not communicated at this meeting. The LTTE's response to the five Questions posed by Norway has not been unconditionally affirmative as had been reported.

Time and again the LTTE had been reminded, reaffirmed by the Norwegian facilitator and the EU, that the EU ban would not in any way impede the role of SLMM monitors from EU countries. SLMM monitors function in their individual capacities and are accountable to the SLMM and not to their countries of origin or citizenship.

As with the principle applicable within the United Nations, individual staff members do not represent their home countries when discharging official functions. They function under the single banner of the organisation and the goals and objectives of the mission.

In Sri Lanka, nationals from the United States and United Kingdom which have proscribed the LTTE hold senior positions in UN agencies, some as Country Representatives that have interactions with the LTTE and are not inhibited in anyway from carrying out their official duties for such international organisations.

It appears that the LTTE is taking a very selective approach and adopting superficial arguments when referring to the neutrality of EU countries. It is noted that the LTTE actively engages in fund raising activities in EU countries.

In fact the top four sources of funding for the LTTE are EU countries where collection activities are carried out. TRO, the flagship fund-raising arm of the LTTE maintains seven of its 13 international offices in EU countries.

In a recent TRO report it is recorded that over 48 per cent of funds for the TRO was received from branch offices in EU countries. The TRO contributions received from Denmark alone were the fourth largest for that period.

The LTTE also operates several Tamil Co-ordinating Committee (TCC) offices in EU countries with senior confidants of the leadership directing fund raising and procurement activities.

In addition LTTE Theoretician and Head of the Peace Delegation Anton Balasingham is himself an EU citizen, residing in an EU country. It is surprising that the LTTE does not find his citizenship not detrimental to its notion of EU countries having "disturbed the neutrality".

The time period of one month insisted on by the LTTE for effecting changes in the composition of the SLMM is tantamount to the imposition of a hostile deadline by the LTTE against the SLMM monitors from the EU and goes contrary to the spirit of guarantees of security for the monitors from the LTTE. The LTTE's casual disregard for the members of the EU need noting.

Any changes in the composition of the SLMM, if needed, is not a matter for unilateral decision-making by the LTTE or to be determined between Norway and the LTTE.

While the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) is a document signed by the Government and LTTE, the agreement of treaty Status relating to the establishment of the SLMM, the Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA), is between the Government and RNG.

Any structural changes to the monitoring mechanism of the CFA would have an impact on the disposition and outlook of the monitoring process requiring consequential changes to SOMA.

These are matters that require negotiations by all parties concerned and cannot be addressed unilaterally to respond to the unreasonable sensitivities and the intransigent attitude of the LTTE.

The Government wishes to reiterate its full confidence on the SLMM, including monitors from the EU countries, and is deeply appreciation of the task undertaken by them under most trying circumstances.

The Government urges the SLMM to continue to carry out its mandate despite the unreasonable stance of the LTTE".

 

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