EU ban may lead to war, warns LTTE
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EU ban may lead to war, warns LTTE

The European Union is expected to add the LTTE to its list of terror groups, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 11:57 IST

Following reports that the European Union (EU) is on the verge of proscribing it, the LTTE has warned that a ban will be entirely counterproductive because it will only encourage the two sides to take the hard line.

The LTTE's ideologue and chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, told Tamilnet on Thursday, that a ban would make the LTTE take the hard line and go for war; invigorate the hard liners in the Sinhala south; and silence the voices of those urging a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

"The more the international community alienates the LTTE the more the LTTE will be compelled to tread a hard line individualistic path," he said.

"Further proscriptions will invigorate the hard line elements in the south, including those in the present Sri Lankan government urging the military defeat of the LTTE and silence those advocating a negotiated solution," Balasingham said.

He went on to warn that the LTTE would not be deterred by the preferences of the international community.

"The LTTE's actions and policies are dictated by the deteriorating objective conditions on the ground and not only the international community's preferences," he said.

"Emboldened by international support, and especially by further proscriptions of the LTTE, the Sinhala hard line elements will undoubtedly take steps to further escalate the violence and precipitate a war in which they hope to destroy the LTTE."

"If this happens, the LTTE will be compelled to resist," he asserted.

"As such (an EU ban) is not going to help bring about peace (but) will only exacerbate the conditions of war and endanger the lives of Tamil civilians entrapped by the Sinhala occupations forces," Balasingham concluded.

Strong move for ban, but hard questions remain to be answered

Diplomatic sources told Hindustan Times on Thursday, that there was a strong tendency in the 25-member EU to ban the LTTE.

The EU had already slapped a travel ban on the leaders of the LTTE in October 2005 following the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August that year.

As per the travel ban EU countries could not receive official delegations of the LTTE.

As regards the present situation, a diplomat said: "Twenty two of the 25 countries are in favour of the ban. But the EU takes its decisions on the basis of consensus."

The two members still holding out are believed to be Scandinavian countries, which are part of the ceasefire monitoring mission in Sri Lanka.

"If the LTTE is banned by the EU, the monitoring mission will have to be recast. Members of the mission from EU countries like Sweden, Denmark and Finland, will have to quit, because they will not be able to liaise with the LTTE," a diplomat said.

The Norwegians and the Icelanders would have to do the monitoring, perhaps with the aid of the Swiss, who are also not members of the EU.

But the Norwegians could not be both facilitating the peace process and monitoring the ceasefire agreement.

The combination of the two functions is opposed by the majority Sinhalas. As it is, the Sinhalas consider the Norwegians to be pro-LTTE.

Some EU members are said to be of the view that a ban will completely take away the EU's leverage with the LTTE.

Ban meaningless unless strictly enforced and loopholes are plugged

Diplomats also say that a ban will be useless unless all the loopholes are plugged and there is constant and strict monitoring of the banned group's financial transactions.

The Canadian ban, for example, has a gaping hole. It allows Canadians to work for and give funds to the LTTE's front organisations!

The US, UK and Australia have banned the LTTE, but top supporters and functionaries of the LTTE freely function in those countries.

Any ban nowadays has provision for monitoring and seizing terrorist funds. But this means that the governments will have to set up a huge and intricate system of vigilance and show the necessary commitment to do the job.

Basically, at the moment, Western countries are looking at Islamic terror groups. And this is quite a plateful by itself.

The other dampener is that the LTTE is not a direct threat to the West, unlike the Islamic groups.

First Published: May 18, 2006 21:14 IST