An affront to the nation
Norwegian politicians may be under the impression that their position as facilitators of the Peace Process under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE has accorded them the position of supreme rulers of this land and that this is a little colony of theirs far away in the Indian Ocean.
This is revealed in the outrageous statement of Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik to Reuters which was published in The Island yesterday. Bondevik is quoted in the report saying: Ive heard the presidents statement but it is the government that is leading the negotiation process....... so I hope they will move forward.
With that statement the Norwegian prime minister has thrown out the diplomatic finesse expected of the leader of a European nation and instead acted like a Bull in a China Shop. That statement amounts not only to gross interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka but also an insult to the head of state of this country. He on his own has relegated the executive president to second rank or less , all on his own for reasons best known to him. He had made this statement in public and at a time that is considered crucial to this Peace Process a statement suggesting that President Kumaratunga is of no consequence in the negotiation process. Bondevik had said this in Japan while on a state visit and thereby violated the third country rule- the diplomatic protocol of not referring to issue of a third country while being in a foreign country. He may have presumed that the president has no role to play in the Peace Process, provoking a very provocative president. Thus the facilitator instead of facilitating the talks has jeopardized it.
Norwegians are neophytes to Sri Lankan politics but when they decide to get involved in such crucial issues, at least their leaders, should acquaint themselves with politics of the country and its leaders. It is elementary that the president of this country, under the present constitution will at the final stage of the Peace Process have a key role to play and cannot be denigrated into oblivion by facilitators .
What Mr. Bondevik,, meant by hoping that the government will move forward and that it should be more flexible on the request for an interim authority is not very clear. The criticism of Prime Minister Wickremasinghes government is that it has been far too flexible on demands of the LTTE- being flexible to a point of supineness. Despite the brazen terrorism of the LTTE and violation of the Cease-fire Agreement as well as the laws of the land and the ferocious criticism that has followed, the government did accommodate the LTTE by ignoring such criticism.
The Norwegians should be aware of the extremely strong opposition that is being generated against the government holding peace talks with the LTTE and foreign participation. The petition signed by 30,000 Buddhist monks handed over to the Japanese Embassy on Tuesday indicates the deep suspicions that the people have and their resentment to foreign participation. A mistake that well meaning foreign nations are making is that there is no real opposition to these peace talks and what the anglicised English speaking NGO activists of Colombo say are true. For example, a NGO noted for its anti- national stance , well funded by the Norwegians has been attempting to set up a new Buddhist nikaya. The petition of 30,000 monks is a resounding answer to such feeble attempts to mislead foreigners.
A main reason why vast numbers mistrust this Peace Process is the Norwegians themselves. Norway has been host to anti- Sri Lankan, anti- Sinhalese, anti- Buddhist movements and demonstrations since the mid eighties.There are photographs of Eric Solheim, one time chief negotiator for Norway and still a negotiator, participating in LTTE demonstrations in Oslo. When President Kumaratunga invited the Norwegians as mediators on being elected president she ignored the deep resentment that was already in existence. Prime Minister Wickremasinghe repeated the folly and invited the Norwegians this time as facilitators who have now gone beyond the role of facilitation and are violating the sovereignty of this nation. Now they gave the gumption to take on the president of the country and announce that she is small beer.
The arrogance of the chief of the monitoring mission Tryggve Telefessen is an affront to this nation. He has the temerity to suggest recognition of a navy of the terrorists as an equivalent to the Sri Lanka Navy and also demarcate separate maritime zones for the terrorists. The Norwegians appear to believe that peacemaking and confidence building are equivalent total capitulation to terrorism. And that is the flexibility expected of the Sri Lanka government.
If the government of Ranil Wickremasinghe and the Peace Process is to survive the Norwegians should be thrown out of this country. The sooner, the better.
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