Netherlands: Italy, France felt US behind move, opposed LTTE proscription by EU
Posted on January 23rd, 2011

by Shamindra Ferdinando  Courtesy The Island 

A classified US diplomatic cable, captioned “ƒ”¹…”Tokyo co-chairs pre-meetings’ has revealed an attempt by the Netherlands to thwart an EU statement targeting LTTE over continuing terrorist attacks in spite of the CFA.

According to the document, dated May 25, 2006, originating from Colombo, ahead of the EU ban on the LTTE, the grouping had been sharply divided. This came to light during a meeting attended by senior representatives of Sri Lankan peace co-chairs and the then Netherlands Ambassador, Van Dijk, when the latter strongly urged his colleagues not to categorise LTTE actions as a terrorist group. The cable says: “Unexpectedly, the Netherlands Ambassador Van Dijk said that a Co-Chairs statement should not mention “terrorism,” especially since EU designation of LTTE as a terrorist group was likely to be announced simultaneously with Tokyo meeting on May 29 or 30. Van Dijk’s position seemed to surprise everyone, and Ambassador (Lunstead) strongly refuted it.”

The cable went on to say in a section captioned “ƒ”¹…”EU inside Baseball’ “Van Dijk called Ambassador on May 25 and wanted to get together to talk the issue through.

Van Dijk told Ambassador that there were still deep divisions within EU on that subject. France and Italy had objected to the listing on procedural grounds, because they thought they were being pushed into it by the US.

When that objection was dealt with, the Nordics still objected on substantive grounds. They insisted that a listing be accompanied by a statement which mentioned the failings of both the government and the LTTE. He also said that EC Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and her colleague Herve Jouanjean (who will represent the EC at Tokyo) had pushed for a lesser action than listing””…”””…”some type of targeted sanctions””…”””…”but had lost. As a result, Van Dijk predicted, Jouanjean could be difficult at Tokyo. Ambassador said he believed there was no way we could accept a Tokyo statement which did not mention the need for the Tigers to give up terrorism, and van Dijk eventually agreed there should be some way to do that.”

Referring to a meeting he had with the then Peace Secretariat Chief Palitha Kohona, in the company of Foreign Secretary H. M .G. S. Palihakkara and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Lunstead appreciated Kohana’s assertion that it was fair for the SLMM to criticize the GOSL when it did something wrong, but it should not equate the government with the Tigers.

Lunstead said: “Van Dijk is excitable and not always accurate in his predictions, but we may have to work hard on the EU in Tokyo to make any statement meaningful. In the end, Kohona is right: we can and should criticize both sides, but we should not equate them.”

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