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European Union Troika to visit J&K

The mission would be visiting both the major regions of the state-the Kashmir Valley and Jammu - where it would interact with the leading figures of the state to elicit their view points, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2009 16:34 IST
Arun Joshi

Jammu, February 20 The European Union Troika mission will undertake a fact f-finding mission to Jammu and Kashmir, first after the Assembly elections in which 62 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise surprising the national and international community by its large participation.

The mission would be visiting both the major regions of the state-the Kashmir Valley and Jammu - where it would interact with the leading figures of the state to elicit their view points. The visit will start from February 28 and last till March 3.

Since 1994, this has been a regular annual feature. As per the EU sources, the EU missions consider it as a fact-finding mission, the purpose of which is to " enable the European Union to get a broad and better understanding about Jammu and Kashmir."

As the current head of the European Union Council, Ambassador of Czech Republic Hynek Kmonicek will head the mission this time.

He will be accompanied by Daniele Smadja Ambassador of the delegation of the European Commission, Ambassador of Sweeden, Lars-Olof Lindgren, Ambassador of Spain Ion de la Riva Deputy head of the mission of the Czech Republic Jan Kreuter and Bruce Bourdon, political counselor, embassy of France.

Much has changed since the EU Troika first undertook its mission in the spring of 1994, when the separatists had hailed it as a result of their consistent effort to draw international attention toward Kashmir issue and the visiting ambassadors were flooded with petitions.

The EU trioika was the first delegation of foreigners to land in Kashmir in March 1994 after the Kashmir militancy erupted in 1990. Thereafter, ambassadors of many Islamic and western nations, including the United States and United Kingdom visited the Valley.

This time, the mood in Jammu and Kashmir is essentially reflective of the changing scenario, where democratic process has got a firm foothold and focus is shifting toward economic issues alongside the political ones. Post Mumbai attacks, Pakistan's owning part of the responsibility of the groups using its soil for the attack has also brought an altogether different spotlight on Kashmir, according to political observers here.