Statement by the Sri Lankan Government in response to LTTE's proposals on Interim Self-Governing Authority in the Northeast
STATEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA
01 November 2003
The Government of Sri Lanka has received the proposal submitted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the Ambassador of Norway on 31st October 2003.
This document outlines the LTTE’s vision regarding the framework for a political solution to the conflict. It differs in fundamental respects from the proposals submitted by the Government of Sri Lanka. Both documents contain proposals in respect of which no agreement has been reached so far.
While the disparities between the positions of the parties are evident, the Government is convinced that the way forward lies through direct discussion of the issues arising from both sets of proposals.
The Government of Sri Lanka reiterates its firm commitment to a negotiated settlement and is convinced that it is not in the interest of either party to resume hostilities. The current ceasefire has held for almost two years and has brought relief and tranquility, with a variety of accompanying benefits, to the country. It is our earnest desire that all aspects of the peace dividend should be shared equally by the people of the North and East and the South.
The negotiations that were held between the parties over a period of seven months until the suspension of talks in April this year resulted in agreement regarding a series of core principles representing the foundation of a just and viable political settlement. Pre-eminent among the documents which articulated these principles was the Oslo Declaration of December 2002. The international community gave emphatic support to the peace process and consistently emphasized the principle of partnership.
More recently, the Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka and India, in the joint communiqué issued in New Delhi at the end of the official visit by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to India in October 2003, made a definitive statement about the parameters within which a negotiated political solution should be arrived at.
It is the conviction of the Government of Sri Lanka that the challenge at present is to consolidate and build upon the gains accruing to the country from the process so far and to direct its future course to reach a sustainable settlement.
Human rights, democracy, pluralism and genuine power sharing constitute, in our view, the basic values underpinning a negotiated settlement. We regard these values as essential and indispensable in the context of an interim structure and indeed with regard to the peace process culminating in a final accord. The Government is committed to pursuing negotiations in keeping with the principles reflected in the documents referred to above.
Accordingly, the Government will request the Royal Norwegian Government, in its capacity as facilitator, to arrange an initial meeting in late November or early December to address a range of preliminary matters in order to pave the way for the resumption of substantive talks very early in the New Year.
The Government’s approach to these talks is one of principled negotiation directed towards the establishment of common ground in respect of significantly divergent positions.
A copy of the LTTE’s proposals received by the Government from the Ambassador of Norway in the evening of Friday 31 October, will be made available by the Hon. Prime Minister to Her Excellency the President.
A further copy will be given by the Hon. Prime Minister to the Hon. Rauf Hakeem to enable formulation of the Muslim response to these proposals in due course.
Copies will also be made available officially to leaders of political parties.
Professor G L Peiris
Source: The Official Website of the Sri Lankan Government’s Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP).