EU ban on LTTE hurt peace efforts – Hanssen-Bauer

[TamilNet, Sunday, 20 August 2006, 22:15 GMT]
Norwegian Special Envoy John Hanssen-Bauer has questioned the European Union's decision, taken last May, to classify Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers as terrorists, the BBC reported Sunday. Mr. Hanssen-Bauer told the BBC that the EU move had damaged the chances of renewed talks, aimed at ending the recent upsurge in violence.

The Norwegian Special Envoy, whose visit Sri Lanka two weeks ago coincided with an eruption of violence between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, said the EU ban had only served to harden the Tigers' position.

Jon Hanssen-Bauer
Jon Hanssen-Bauer
The LTTE is insisting that ceasefire monitors from EU countries must leave Sri Lanka, as they cannot be considered neutral observers.

SLMM spokesman Thorfinnur Omarsson told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya, that members from three EU countries would leave by 31 August due to the demands of the Tamil Tigers after the EU ban.

Mr. Bauer said the reduced numbers of monitors with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) were clearly insufficient.

“We see now that the SLMM will be reduced to half its original capacity in a situation where it's badly needed, and where the work has been more demanding than ever. I would have hoped that the situation would have been different,” Mr. Bauer told the BBC.

The non-EU members of SLMM have meanwhile decided to increase the number of monitors from their countries as members from Sweden, Denmark and Finland are leaving soon.

Iceland and Norwegian governments have decided to increase their members from 4 to 10 and 16 to 20 respectively.

Norwegian officials are yet to announce the replacement for the current head of SLMM, Swedish national Ulf Henriccson, Omarsson added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Military affairs spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, criticised the Special Envoy’s comments.

“I would like to remind that the Norway has merely repeated the initial response by the LTTE just after the ban,” he told bbcsinhala.com.

Mr. Rambukwella said the EU took its decision to ban the LTTE after “long scientific research.”

He did not elaborate.

 

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