Meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Helsinki/Finland, Jan. 10th 2006

Ref: European Initiative for a Negotiated Peace in Sri Lanka (EINPSL)
Here: Meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Helsinki/Finland Jan.10, 2006-01-12, 9-11.30 a.m.

Topic: The EU travel ban of LTTE delegations and the potential listing of the LTTE as terrorist delegation; and their impact on the peace process

1. After thanking Mr Mikko Pyhälä (Ambassador, Asia and Oceania) and the other members of the Finnish Foreign Ministry present for their generous welcome and the possibility offered to articulate their concern as to the EU policy towards the LTTE and to discuss the situation in SL, and after presenting the history and objective of the EINPSL, Profs. Neelsen and Schalk stated the purpose of their visit: To help reconsider the EU-ban of LTTE delegations and, even more so, not to proceed to list the LTTE as a terrorist organisation since such measures would be counterproductive, increase rather decrease the risk of renewed war on the island, undermine the peace negotiations, delegitimize the struggle of the SLTamils while objectively supporting the hard-line policies of the SL government.

2. Mr Pyhälä detailled the great interest Finland has demonstrated for many years with regard to the developments in SL:

· FL long term development aid.
· The country’s generous aid for the tsunami victims.
· FL’s participation in the SLMM.
· FL’s participation in the demining efforts of the war affected areas.
· FL having received official LTTE delegations, including Mr. Tamilselvam, at several occasions.

FL’s long-term commitment to the development of SL in general, its active and at the same time neutral role as to the ethnic conflict in particular has been internationally recognized in so far as there have been suggestions of FL taking over the command of the SLMM as well as the role of facilitator should Norway be no longer available. FL has turned down all such suggestions.

He listed perceptions which may have led to the declaration by the then EU presidency conveying a travel ban and the threath of a potential listing of the LTTE

· lack of change in attitude and behaviour of the LTTE
· continued recruitment of child soldiers
· shadow thrown by political assassinations
· threat of break-up of SL by continued pursuit of an independent Tamil Eelam.

3. In the detailed exchange of views that followed, there was some convergence on possible consequences of a listing of the LTTE by the EU for the peace process.

The following points were singled out in particular by some participants:

· potential withdrawal of EU member countries from the SLMM, since the basis of its operation, i.e. perceived impartiality vis à-vis both warring parties might no longer exist.
· possible withdrawal of Norway as international facilitator since the country usually follows EU policy on terrorist listing. International facilitation might become more difficult.
· Criminalized the LTTE could see itself forced back into the underground for the collection of funds and the procurement of weapons; progress on the human rights front and as to its transformation into a democratic political organization could be in jeopardy. In this context, the EINPSL suggested to adopt a long term perspective on the LTTE which would reveal important changes in organization, programme, behaviour: e.g. the integration of Muslims, the change of priority in methods from armed struggle to negotiations, the cooperation with international Human Rights organizations, including signing of various international conventions, the attempt to *de-ethnizise the conflict between Sinhalese and Tamils, etc.
· Progress made in past rounds of negotiations to find a political solution for the conflict on the basis of internal autonomy might be lost. By contrast, the hardliners in Colombo, including the principal Sinhala political parties, and the army, and most openly manifest by the JVP and JHU who are opposed to any kind of concession would be strengthened.

4. Retracing the recent history of the conflict it was mentioned that

· it was the LTTE that had initiated the Cease-Fire Agreement of 2002,
· the LTTE to agree on exploring the possibilities for internal self-determination was of paramount importance. In this context, the Finnish side referred to the eagerness of LTTE delegations that had come to visit various countries, including Finland, but also Canada, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, to study the respective constitutions, not least with regard to federal structures.

5. Deterioration coincided with the LTTE’s proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Administration at the end of October 2003.

7. It was mentioned that the boycott of the recent presidential elections by the Tamils and the respective call for abstention by the LTTE could be seen as a political measure.

8. The Karuna group was seen as a complicating factor.

9. The EINPSL underlined the non-compliance with essential parts of the CFA by the army, not least the stipulated vacation of places of worship, educational institutions and other centres in civilian populated areas, the prevention of the return of IDPs, the restrictions imposed on fishermen, etc. as major barriers to a peaceful settlement and factors accelerating the risk of renewed warfare.

10. As to the question of secession, the EINPSL pointed out the declared (and proven) willingness of the LTTE to explore the possibilities for internal self-determination to which so far the other side has not reciprocated. Without such official proposals it appears disingenuous to question a priori the bona fides of the other side. Moreover, as the UN Friendly Relations Resolution specifies, an amicable negotiated separation of an existing state certainly does not contradict international law or the principle of “territorial integrity”. Eventually, it is up to the concerned peoples to decide on their political future.

Grateful for the possibility provided for an exposition of their views and the chance to hear the point of view of the Finnish Foreign Office the EINPSL representatives reiterated at the end their request to the Finnish Government to consider the potentially extremely serious consequences of a listing of the LTTE for the peace process in SL and impress these on their colleagues in the relevant EU councils. The change in the perspective of the EU from support of the peace process to a concentration on one party in a conflict is not only totally unhelpful, but obviously lacks any strategy as to its impact and the EU influence on the peace negotiations and the situation on the ground, not to speak of the hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees in the EU.

Uppsala/Helsinki, January 12, 2006-01-12
John P.Neelsen,
Peter Schalk