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The age of chivalry is dead, my friend!
Godage replies to Blake

Blake

Ambassador Blake in a recent letter published in The Island states that he was saddened to read my article, ‘attacking former EU Ambassador Wilson’. I must confess that I was surprised to read his letter. I, for one, cannot understand why he has taken upon himself to reply. Surely Ambassador Wilson it was who should have replied, for he was here at the time I wrote; in any event I was provoked into writing my last article on the activities of Julian Wilson after the visit of the Parliamentary delegation, when he successfully sabotaged for a second time a visit of the delegation to the Eastern Province.

Wilson not only sabotaged the visit but also had the pied piper of the LTTE Robert Evans issue a stupid statement blaming the government and casting aspersions. His own colleagues have responded to him and revealed the truth. Hasn’t Ambassador Blake read of the protest made by the government through our Ambassador in Brussels on this matter on August 28? It was given wide publicity in all our newspapers. Surely, he should not unnecessarily take upon himself the business of defending those who have been seeking to damage the image of this country.

I had indeed written twice before inquiring why the EU’s head of mission was insisting that Sri Lanka stop its offensive against terrorism and negotiate with the LTTE, as if we had not gone down that road four times before only to be deceived. We allowed the LTTE to buy time to re-group, rearm itself, train and set forth on their journey to Eelam and no one helped us. The EU only imposed an arms embargo. Wilson never replied, not even when he was confronted at a BCIS Workshop. Wilson had immense opportunities to defend his actions and explain himself but did not do so. I am, therefore, curious as to why the American Ambassador has emerged to defend him after the man has left.

The US Ambassador states that my comments and those of Mr. Lankatilleke are ‘unfair’. I do most sincerely hope that he would explain Wilson’s actions for it is not just me and Mr. L who are of the considered view that Wilson was an absolute disaster for EU–SL relations. I suppose one must stand by friends, but in this instance Ambassador Blake has most unnecessarily taken upon himself a responsibility he will not be able to discharge. Further, what has Wilson got to do with the US? I am reminded how the former British High Commissioner ran like a headless chicken to commiserate with the editor of a newspaper who had a misunderstanding with the Secretary of Defence. Shouldn’t we know our limits?

I am personally aware of the good work done by Ambassador Blake, who is an unpretentious, friendly and popular person. His manner has endeared him to our people he has also accomplished much in the Eastern Province in the short time that he has served here. I see no reason for him to have jumped into a messy situation. The age of chivalry is dead my friend! If he does wish to defend Ambassador Wilson could he please tell us of any positive actions of his friend Ambassador Wilson during his three year period in office?

Ambassador Blake has said, "Ambassador Godage called Ambassador Wilson an LTTE sympathiser, asked whether he was in the pay of the LTTE." Come on Mr. Ambassador, this is not what I had stated in the article under reference, I said, "On account of the persistence with which he advocated their cause (incessantly calling upon the government to stop the war and negotiate) there was speculation in this country whether the man was in the pay of the LTTE. When a senior journalist suggested that he may be in the pay of the LTTE, I dismissed the suggestion but the journalist drew my attention to the huge sum being paid to a prostitute lobbyist Bruce Fein in Washington, a man who wanted to lobby for the government for fee, of course, and when his offer was turned down he now is the principal lobbyist for the LTTE for a huge fee of course, and stated what would $ 25,000/ a month be but chicken feed for the LTTE, to retain a man such as Wilson".

It is unfortunately necessary to restate what I have recounted above, for the sake of emphasis. I stated that due to Wilson’s persistence in calling for negotiations, there was SPECULATION whether the man was in the pay of the LTTE. I never ASKED whether the man was in the pay of the LTTE. I only referred to the speculation of others and as stated in my article, "I dismissed the suggestion…" The Ambassador goes on to quote my allegation that Wilson "used every opportunity to embarrass the government", and states that "such charges are completely baseless and beneath the writer’s knowledge and experience." Some of our government Ministers would bear witness to the unusual hostility they experienced when they met senior officials of the EU such as Peter Mandelson and Beneta Ferraro –Waldner in recent times. Who had briefed them?

If my charges are baseless, could Ambassador Blake explain why Wilson prevented two delegations from the EU from visiting the East to meet Chief Minister S. Chandrakathan. One of the reasons given for the representatives of the EU’s Troika not agreeing to the government’s request to visit was hilarious, namely that the TMVP was carrying arms! They would have, of course, rushed to the Vanni to meet Prabhakaran and the terrorist LTTE, if such an opportunity was offered to them!

My friend Ambassador Blake has put his foot in his mouth when he states that the issues referred to were ‘beneath the writer’s knowledge and experience’. For your information Mr. Ambassador I spent eight years in Brussels with our Mission there on two tours of duty and on the second tour I was Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the EU and have visited there many times even in recent years and please understand that I did not ‘scrape coconuts’ in Brussels. As for my ‘experience’, I have served my country for 37 years (incidentally, I served in your country too, 25 years ago!) As for my ‘knowledge’ of matters, I am aware how certain neophytes were being fooled or rather being ‘worked on’ by the likes of Wilson and I certainly know much more about the ‘work’ being done by certain foreign missions here from my contacts, than Ambassador Blake would ever imagine. I would also like to know what he means when he uses he word ‘beneath’ referring to my knowledge of matters.

The conclusion one is inclined to arrive at is that he is referring to certain secret, not the clandestine, meetings held ‘beneath’ the surface or could there be some other construction? Is Ambassador Blake implying that though on the surface we were being pilloried, beneath the surface Wilson was actually helping this country! So, is the national anxiety over the renewal of GSP Plus etc. misplaced?

Ambassador Blake has stated that I have been ‘unfair’. If so, to be fair by Mr. Julian Wilson and in keeping with the need for transparency (surely there would be nothing secret or clandestine) and in the interest of the truth, please let us, the people of this country, know what Ambassador Wilson achieved whilst serving here to promote better relations between Sri Lanka and the EU during his three-year tour of duty.

As for the EU’s double standards some of us are more than familiar with that. The EU Parliament adopted 18 Resolutions relating to Sri Lanka and the conflict invariably spotlighting HR violations in the period 1984 and 1987, (there were also eight statements released by the Council of Ministers during this period). It would, no doubt, be of interest to the reader to know that not a single Resolution was adopted during the period when the IPKF took on the LTTE though the many allegations of violations of HR between October 1987 and March 1991 were documented in an LTTE publication titled ‘The Satanic Force’. They had economic interests to safeguard! The EU was not even prepared to express ‘concern’, leave alone condemn, when India violated our sovereignty and indulged in the infamous ‘parippu drop’. It is on record that the EU faulted us, who were the victims, for having brought this violation upon us! The EP woke up from their slumber of convenience only after the Premadasa government was compelled to respond after the LTTE carried out a Pearl Harbour type attack and ended negotiations with the government. Yes the Resolutions and statements sprouted once again. So, let us not have any false notions about their sense of fair play or that the likes of Wilson mean well by us.

Correspondent Lankatilleke has stated that Wilson’s departure was good riddance for bad rubbish or GROBR. I shall not be so unkind. I do hope he would explain himself and send us a report on what he achieved here so that we could erase the bad impression we have of him and wish him well for his future.

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