'Negotiations cannot be held under conditions of war' - LTTE

[TamilNet, Saturday, 16 December 2000, 14:19 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers Saturday called on the international community to use its good offices “to persuade the Sri Lankan government to abandon its hardline militarist approach and to seek a negotiated political settlement in a climate of peace and goodwill”. A press release from the organisation’s London offices quoted a statement it released Saturday in the Vanni expressing the LTTE’s “deep disappointment” over the “categorical rejection” by Sri Lanka of its call for a process of de-escalation of the armed conflict prior to peace talks. The LTTE also welcomed the “positive” proposals for “mutually reciprocated confidence building goodwill measures” suggested by the Government of Norway to be undertaken on both sides.

The full text of the statement follows:

"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a press statement issued today from its headquarters in Vanni, northern Sri Lanka, called upon the international community to use its good offices to persuade the Sri Lankan government to abandon its hard-line militaristic approach and to seek a negotiated political settlement in a climate of peace and goodwill.

"Expressing deep disappointment over the categorical rejection by Sri Lanka of the LTTE’s call for a process of de-escalation of the armed conflict prior to peace talks, the statement reiterated that genuine peace talks could not be held under conditions of war, violence and hostility.

‘ The Kumaratunga government has not abandoned its notorious project of war for peace; a project that brought incalculable damage to the country and intolerable suffering to the Tamil people. The government wants to continue with this irrational and contradictory policy of waging war and making peace to placate the Sinhala-Buddhist racist elements locally and at the same time appease the international governments that demand a peaceful resolution of the conflict. War and peace are antithetical, mutually opposing forces and therefore cannot be reconciled to bring about a harmonious order. The history of our armed conflict has demonstrated the fact that peace talks without a stable cease-fire do not succeed. We are amused to note that Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar claims that war could go on with full force as the talks proceed. This pronouncement is a clear manifestation of his ignorance of the tragic history of previous negotiations and the savage nature of the war, the deadly repercussions of which can topple the peace process’, the statement declared.

‘Our leader Mr. Piraparahan in his Heroes’Day message called for unconditional talks in a cordial atmosphere conducive for peace negotiations. He observed that it would be practically difficult for both the parties who have been involved in a savage and bloody war for the last two decades with mutual animosity and distrust to enter into a peace process while continuing armed hostilities. It is for this reason, our leader proposed a process of de-escalation leading to cessation of armed hostilities and the creation of a peaceful environment. The Sri Lanka government has deliberately distorted our genuine plea for a peaceful environment for peace talks as a pre-condition. Furthermore, Sri Lanka has misinterpreted our call for the creation of conditions of normalcy as a situation that includes the withdrawal of armed forces from Jaffna. We did not demand the withdrawal of the armed forces. Our leader has explained that by normalcy he meant the restoration of normal civilian life in Tamil areas by removing the stringent economic blockade imposed on the Tamil people. We want the government to take this step as a humanitarian gesture, as a measure of goodwill. This should not be viewed as a pre-condition for talks. The government is well aware that the Tamil people, particularly the people of Vanni, have been subjected to immense suffering as a consequence of this embargo on food, medicine and other essential items vital for the survival of our people. It is time for the government to remove this grave injustice perpetrated on our people for the cause of peace’, the statement said.

"Criticising the delayed response of the Sri Lanka government to the Tamil Tiger leader’s call for unconditional talks, the LTTE’s statement observed that the government’s position contained ambiguities and contradictions. ‘Though the government proclaims its readiness for unconditional talks, it reiterates its previous preconditions of a limited time frame and a pre-conceived permanent solution to be worked out at the commencement of the talks. These conditions are unacceptable to the LTTE. By refusing to de-escalate the war and by stipulating conditions for talks, the Kumaratunga government is making a deliberate attempt to scuttle the peace process. Therefore, we appeal to the international governments to use their good offices and persuade Sri Lanka to abandon its hard-line militaristic position and to seek the path of peace, rationality and fair play to find a negotiated political settlement to the Tamil national question’, the LTTE statement declared.

"In conclusion, the LTTE statement welcomed the positive proposals suggested by the Government of Norway as confidence building goodwill measures to be mutually reciprocated by the parties in conflict that would facilitate the relaxation of the economic embargo and gradually de-escalate the armed confrontation. ‘The LTTE is seriously considering the proposals but it is the government that should take the initiative’, the statement said."


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