EU statements must not encourage terrorists – Deva Aditya
COLOMBO: The European Union should make statements encouraging
good governance in the spirit of friendship without strengthening the
hand of the terrorists, European Parliament Member (MEP) Niranjan de
Silva Deva-Aditya said yesterday.
The current visit of the MEP delegation was to support the country
and strengthen relationship, Aditya said.
”The recent visit by the MEP delegation was to improve relations with
South Asian countries. But far from improving the relationship with Sri
Lanka, the visit on the contrary also led to recriminations, finger
pointing and mistrust,” he added.
Deva-Aditya emphasized that his national interest comes as a dual
citizen. “I have always put what I consider to be the national interest
first, then my constituency interest second and my party interest third.
As a dual citizen, proud of my Sri Lankan heritage, similarly I would
never put the interest of any party before those which I believe to be
in the national interest of all Sri Lankan people,” he said.
”What the Government has achieved in the Eastern Province in turning
a previous LTTE leader into the Chief Minister restoring civil
administration and resettling 90 per cent of the IDPs in a short time is
We should acknowledge this, not criticise it,” Aditya remarked. He
refuted the allegations by MEP Delegation leader Robert Evans, saying he
had a hidden agenda which made him avoid meeting the new Chief Minister
of the Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan in Trincomalee.
Deva-Aditya asserted that the MEP was forced to avoid the visit to
Trincomalee for several reasons despite the fullest support of the
“The first mistake was because the leader of the delegations turned
down the offer of a Government aircraft on the grounds that we could be
seen to be partial. Instead, a plane from South Africa was chartered for
us through a private company (Expo Aviation) by the EU Delegation’s
office in Colombo though the UN.
The plane was yet to be certificated as airworthy according to Sri
Lanka Civil Aviation Rules. It did not arrive in Colombo from South
Africa until Sunday 20- for the flight on Wednesday July 23, though our
planes were known at least two months in advance by the EU office in
Therefore, we were to be accommodated on an inaugural flight in a 20
year old aircraft which had yet to certificated as airworthy by the
Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and flown by South African pilots
who had never flown in the route before”, he pointed out.
He further said the Civil Aviation Authority rushed to the clearance
procedure by 2.30pm on July 23 but insisted that a local flight director
from Expo Aviation was to fly in the aircraft for our safety as the
pilots who were hired by the EU/UN were not cleared for the route.
Meanwhile, on the day of the flight we reported to the Ratmalana
airport at noon as scheduled and at 1.20 pm the South African pilot who
had been hired came on board of the MEPs bus and informed us that “this
flight is not going to take off and I am not cleared to fly the
aircraft”. Having made this statement he left.
”I request the Government to carry out its own inquiries as to the
sequences of events and various decisions taken by the private company,
the EU office, the UN and the SLCAA which culminated in this fiasco by
holding a Committee of inquiry so that we can end speculation and clear
the air,” he added.
Deva-Aditya, however regretted the MEP delegation’s statements and
stressed that the EU needs to learn but not to lecture. “For the EU the
lesson is simpler still.
We need to learn but not to lecture. We need to learn to make
statements that encourage good governance in the spirit of friendship
while at the same time not strengthening the hand of the terrorist in
We need to engage Sri Lanka in a dialogue of equals without employing
megaphone diplomacy. We failed do so last week and for which on behalf
of the British Conservative Members of European Parliament, I do now
apologise,” he said.