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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 truly remarkable.

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 Foreign Ministry.

“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 Colombo.

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 any way.

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.

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