Ranil visits Norway amid CFA evaluation
October 21, 2010, 9:12 pm
by Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is visiting Oslo in the midst of a Norwegian evaluation into their failed peace bids in Sri Lanka (1997-2009), with the focus on the last attempt made during Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Premier.
Sources say the Norwegian inquiry will come up for discussion during Wickremesinghe’s visit. Among the officials, the Opposition Leader is scheduled to meet is Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim, who pushed for an evaluation of the Norwegian peace effort supported with a staggering allocation of NOK 100 million.
Responding to a query by The Island at a press conference called by the Opposition Leader’s Office, on Wednesday (Oct 20), UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake emphasized that Wickremesinghe would never engage in politics detrimental to the country. MP Karunanayake dismissed the perception that it was a clandestine visit. According to him, the UNP leader would visit several countries during his ongoing European tour.
Wickremesinghe’s visit to Oslo follows a meeting between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg and Minister Solheim on Sept. 21 on the sidelines of the 65th UNGA in New York.
A Norwegian embassy source yesterday told The Island that two universities based in Norway (Chr. Michelsen’s Institute) and UK (School of Oriental and African Studies) won the contract to carry out the joint evaluation.
Asked whether the evaluation team would visit Colombo, the embassy source said that the team would like to come here, though no final decision had been taken as yet. Responding to another query, the source said that Wickremesinghe was visiting Norway as part of a European tour. He indicated that the Opposition Leader’s visit and the inquiry were coincidental.
Dr. John Gooneratne, formerly of the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat, which had liaised the peace process (2002-2006) welcomed the latest Norwegian initiative. Gooneratne told The Island:"I have read the details of the evaluation that the Norwegian government is undertaking of the overall peace process in Sri Lanka. It has very comprehensive Terms of Reference. The outcome of the evaluation will be of interest not only to Sri Lankans, but also to those who study third-party roles in conflict resolution, peace-making and peace-building the world over. If there is some contribution that we could make towards this evaluation, as the country involved it makes sense to be able to contribute to it. I would not say the 2002 effort failed; more accurately I would say the effort did not succeed for a variety of reasons."
Gooneratne criticized the way Norway worked out the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) between the then Premier Wickremesinghe’s government and the LTTE in his submissions to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
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