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EU puts Tamil Tigers on terror list

The decision was taken by EU Council of Ministers, writes PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 14:47 IST

The European Union (EU) has banned the LTTE, thus joining the US, UK, Australia, Canada and India.

A decision to list the LTTE as a terrorist organisation was taken by the EU's Council of Ministers, which met in Brussels on Monday.

However, what such listing actually means is not yet clear. But if the European Parliament's recent resolution on the subject is any indication, the LTTE's funds in member countries would be frozen.

The LTTE would be expected to abandon terrorism, de-commission its weapons, and come for a negotiated settlement with the Sri Lankan government on the ethnic question.

In October last year, following the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, the EU decided that its members would not receive official delegations of the LTTE.

With the ban on now, LTTE officials and others linked to the organisation may not be able to visit EU countries, where tens of thousands of supporters live and contribute liberally to the coffers of the organisation.

Gives opportunity to change

Speaking to Hindustan Times the Director General of the Sri Lankan government Peace Secretariat, Dr Palitha Kohona, said that the EU ban had given the LTTE an opportunity to change, to abandon terrorism and come to the negotiating table.

He hoped that the LTTE would see the writing on the wall and opt for a peaceful solution.

The ban showed that Europe and the world at large, "abhorred" terrorism and felt that terrorism was no way to fight for a cause.

As regards its impact on the Sri Lankan peace process, Dr Kohona said that the ban would enable the issue to be addressed from a different base.

There would be zero tolerance of terrorist methods.

On talks about truce monitors

Asked whether, in the light of the ban, he expected the LTTE to attend the planned talks in Oslo on June 8 and 9 on the role of truce monitors, Dr Kohona said that he had been given to understand that the LTTE would attend.

"The Oslo talks have a limited agenda - the role of the truce monitors," he explained.

Asked whether the Sri Lankan government would attend, he said that it was for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to decide.

LTTE's decision awaited

The LTTE's decision on the June talks in Oslo is awaited, as is its stand on the peace process at large, in the light of the EU ban.

Its media spokesman, Thaya Master, told Hindustan Times that before the ban, the LTTE intended to attend, but he would not know what it would do now.

"We will come back to you on this, later," he said.

Earlier, the LTTE's political leaders, SP Tamilselvan and Anton Balasingham, had said that an EU ban would lead to the Tamils' losing faith in the international community and force the LTTE to resume its armed struggle.

They argued that an EU ban would be unjust to the Tamil minority and would only encourage the Sinhala majority to deny the Tamils their legitimate rights.