Stalled Peace talks strains Ceasefire, says SLMM chief
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 February 2005, 08:44 GMT]
The Scandinavian truce monitors, monitoring the ceasefire agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since the day it came into operation on Feb 22, 2002, cautioned on Tuesday that the prolonging stalemate in the peace talks causes serious strain on the very existence of the ceasefire.
"Lack of peace talks is putting a serious strain on the Cease Fire and creating dangerous uncertainty. The two Parties will inevitably have to return to the negotiating table. SLMM will do its utmost to assist both sides in upholding the CFA by continuing our work and confidence building measures," Mr. Hagrup Haukland, head of the SLMM said in a statement released coinciding with the third anniversary of the truce agreement.
His statement in full is given below:
"Today, the 22nd February marks the 3rd anniversary of the Cease Fire. I would like to use this opportunity to commend the Sri Lanka Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam‚s pure willingness to act with restraint in situations that could have escalated. SLMM can confirm, as a matter of fact, that there have been no clashes between the Parties‚ military forces after the signing of the CFA".
"Assassinations and killings are, however, still jeopardising the CFA. I strongly condemn these horrible acts, as they undermine and pose a serious threat to the peace process. They have without a doubt poisoned the atmosphere between the Parties and lead to an unsafe environment creating fear among the general public. The killings must be stopped and SLMM urges both sides to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice".
"The Tsunami brought added suffering to Sri Lanka and has increased pressure on the Parties. It is therefore more imperative than ever that the Cease Fire holds so that people can restore their lives and return to normalcy. My experience with both Parties leads me to believe that the two will do everything in their power to keep the Cease Fire".
"Lack of peace talks is putting a serious strain on the Cease Fire and creating dangerous uncertainty. The two Parties will inevitably have to return to the negotiating table".
"SLMM will do its utmost to assist both sides in upholding the CFA by continuing our work and confidence building measures," the statement concluded.
The SLMM currently consists of members from the five Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland and the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE must be in agreement through a mutually accepted process before any amendments to the CFA can be made. So far no amendments have been made to the CFA.
SLMM has its headquarters in Colombo, six district offices and a Liaison Office in Killinochchi. In addition, SLMM has established Points of Contact (POC) in various locations in the North and East aiming to expand the possibility to establish contact with the local population and for SLMM to be more accessible.
SLMM operates mobile units and perform extensive patrolling in SLMM Area of Responsibility (AOR) in the North-East.