By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles

Sri Lanka’s new Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando is of the opinion that former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar did a terrible mistake by going on a campaign internationally urging the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam be proscribed.

Former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar's successful international campaign fully backed by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and with a clear intention of blocking millions of dollars collected by the LTTE in the West for terrible acts of violence in Sri Lanka came under severe criticism of Tyronne Fernando in an exclusive interview with the Colombo weekly, the Sunday Leader.

Reporting the interview in its January 20, 2002 issue the strongly pro-government weekly said, “Former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar went on a campaign internationally urging that the LTTE be proscribed, little realizing that it would boomerang on the country one day when it had to de-proscribe the LTTE, for a meaningful solution.”

The newspaper said, “ Tyronne Fernando says he does not want to make the same mistakes. He wants to have a broad based foreign policy and believes, the Tigers should be offered an alternative if they are ready to drop their claim for a separate state.”

Interviewed by Wilson Gnanadas, the new Foreign Minister reportedly told the newspaper, “We must have an open and broad based approach to international relations. I think the last seven years have been marked by an obsession to ban the LTTE and militarily fighting terrorism without a modern, practical and constructive approach to politically negotiating an end to the war.”

Criticizing severely, the very popular former Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar who happened to be the only Minister who was highly praised by the country’s independent press after the defeat of his unpopular Chandrika Kumaratunga regime Tyronne Fernando said, “So much so that the former Foreign Minister became a prisoner of the LTTE. He had to live in a fortress, not attending the Ministry at all, getting down people to his house guarded by 125 soldiers, unable to move around in the city without 12 cars. We wanted to change all this and first of all removed all the barricades he had put up because he is no more Foreign minister.”

But how ever the new Foreign Minister reportedly told the pro-UNP newspaper, “But the Prime Minister has allowed him some facilities which other ex-Minister’s do not enjoy because he is a prisoner of the LTTE. We wanted to let him out of the prison and guard him from the LTTE’s wrath.”

Criticizing the former regime for its anti-LTTE foreign policy stance Tyronne Fernando said, “ (T)hey had an undue obsession about annihilating the LTTE. What I am trying to say is that this ethnic problem is a local problem. It is not something that a Foreign minister should totally get immersed in.”

Attacking the former Foreign Minister for mistrusting the Norwegians Tyronne Fernando said, “We trusted them (Norwegians) and they in turn have trusted us. You see the charge leveled against the Norwegians by the PA government was that they had links with the LTTE. So what? How can anybody get involved in a peace process without having any links with the LTTE? The very fact that the Norwegians have links with the LTTE, I think, is their strength, to march ahead with one aim. On the other hand if we invite the Samoans, they may be independent but they may not do the job that the Norwegians could do, because the Norwegians have some idea about the LTTE. So, I must say the PA’s whole approach has been very impractical, ill-conceived and mismanaged.”


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