Truce monitors in Sri Lanka call for CBMs

The Nordic truce monitors say Lankan Govt and the LTTE should trust each other, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 13:16 IST

Talks between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE will be successful only if the two parties improve mutual trust by taking appropriate Confidence Building Measures (CBM), says Hagrup Haukland, head of the Scandinavian-staffed truce monitoring team in Sri Lanka.

Talking to the Foreign Correspondents' Association in Colombo on Tuesday, Haukland said that the confidence in each other was "not good at all".

"Many things can be done in terms of CBMs," he said.

Talks between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, to be held in Geneva on February 22 and 23, are on the smooth implementation of the February 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA).

The CFA has been violated more than 5,000 times by the LTTE, the government charges.

The LTTE, in turn, accuses the government of not implementing crucial clauses of the agreement.

According to Haukland, the problem is not the agreement itself, but the way the two sides are looking at each other.

"For the government, the LTTE is the problem, and for the LTTE, the government is the problem."

What is lacking is mutual trust.

Main issues at Geneva

Haukland said that there were two main issues before the Geneva talks: The first is the military situation and the second is normalisation of life in the war-torn North East.

"The military questions are easy, but the issue of normalisation is going to be challenging," he said.

The LTTE is going to raise the issue of the murderous activities of shadowy Tamil groups allegedly working in alliance with the Sri Lankan military; the restrictions on civilians' movements on both land and sea; the presence of the Sri Lankan military on private and public property; and the rolling back the High Security Zones in Jaffna.

The government delegation would raise the issue of the enormous number of CFA violations by the LTTE, which were far more than the violations by the government forces.

The government would also demand an end to assassinations and the recruitment and abduction of children.

The government and the LTTE keep blaming each other whenever trouble arises.

"There are groups which do not want peace," Haukland said.

"Some groups had defined themselves out of the peace process", he added, thereby hinting that such groups were making the task of keeping the peace more difficult.

But Haukland scrupulously avoided naming any of these groups.

The chief ceasefire monitor said that expectations from the Geneva talks were high among the public. He hoped that the talks would find a way forward.

"Where there is a will there is a way," he said.

Even if the two parties did not come to any agreement at the Geneva conclave, they could agree to meet again, he said.

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 12:18 IST