Press statement: European Union and the Peace Process in Sri Lanka

To the European Union
Copies to: The World Council of Churches Assembly in Porto Alegre, political and community leaders and the press.


Today, for the first time after three years, face-to-face talks between delegations of the Sri Lankan government (GoSL) the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is taking place in Geneva. For enabling this, we congratulate the Norwegian Government for their exemplary work as facilitators and the government of Switzerland and the Geneva Ecumenical Institute for hosting the meeting.

At this critical time for the Peace Process in Sri Lanka, it is essential for the International community to support the clear preconditions for peacemaking. That is, if there is to be peace with justice and real security for people, then representatives of the principal parties to deeply-rooted conflicts cannot avoid dealing with each other, while external parties can either positively facilitate this, or negatively undermine it.

European Union (EU) policy should not undermine the situation

In September 2005, the British presidency of the European Union (EU) issued a statement imposing a travel ban on official delegations of the LTTE. Such a position represents a paradigmatic shift in EU policy and encourages those political forces in Sri Lanka that are calling for a military solution to the underlying conflicts of the island and which support a chauvinist response to the suffering and aspirations of the Tamil people.

Travel bans and proscription of one party are utterly unhelpful in any negotiations. The strategy for peace making is dialogue. We urge the EU to revert to its previously more equidistant and impartial position, and follow the advice that the European Commission in Sri Lanka has given to the GoSL and the LTTE ‘to approach the opportunity with an open and flexible attitude’. (Seepress statement)

We urge the EU to rise to the occasion, and lift the travel ban that it imposed on official delegations of the LTTE, and like Norway and Switzerland positively assist and not negatively undermine the situation in Sri Lanka.

European Initiative for a Negotiated Peace in Sri Lanka
Fax: 0049 421 397 6446