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Nordic foreign ministers call for international safeguards

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 07:41 No Comment]

Subtly, but significantly differing from Tokyo Co-chairs, the Nordic Foreign Ministers who met in Oslo on Monday came out with a statement not insisting on LTTE’s surrender but stressing on the interim no-fire period and a central role for UN and ICRC in receiving the IDPs from the conflict zone, adhering to international standards.

Political analysts view the Nordic statement as an evolution of the Co-chairs’ stand, but still showing lacunas and contradictions.

According to them, first of all, the Nordic Foreign Ministers welcome the Co-chair statement issued on 03 February, the pivotal point of which was LTTE negotiating surrender and amnesty with the Colombo government. The Nordic statement not insisting on this point maybe due to the fact the Colombo government has rejected the inseparable other side of it, ie., possibilities of negotiating with the LTTE as urged by the Co-chairs.

Secondly, the statement is ambiguous whether the civilians coming out first or relief reaching them beforehand is advocated by the Nordic Foreign Ministers. It is also not clear where and at what stage the UN agencies should get involved.

Thirdly, the Nordic statement urges for an "inclusive dialogue to agree on a political settlement" by parties to the conflict, in place of the Co-chairs’ statement of a collective initiation by themselves, India, UN and others.
However, the Nordic statement display no evidence of acknowledgement of the hard reality that the current war is a result of the tilting of balance by the Co-chairs and no honourable dialogue for a political settlement is possible unless the Co-chairs themselves take initiative to revert the situation.

Full text of the statement by the Nordic Foreign Ministers follows:

Nordic Foreign Ministers express concern for the Humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka

In today’s Nordic meeting of the Foreign Ministers in Oslo, the five ministers released a common statement regarding the situation in Sri Lanka:

The Nordic Foreign Ministers welcome the statement by the Co Chairs (Norway, EU, Japan and USA) 3 February 2009 on the situation in Sri Lanka.

The Ministers jointly expressed their grave concern for the humanitarian crisis now taking place in Sri Lanka, where up to a quarter million people are trapped in the fire line, with unacceptable civilian casualties. They reiterated their call on the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka to uphold international, humanitarian law.
A temporary no fire period is needed urgently to allow for sick and wounded to be evacuated and humanitarian aid to be transported in to the conflict area. Key humanitarian principles must be respected.
Civilians must be allowed to leave the conflict zone, humanitarian aid must be allowed in to reach the population now in dire need and the safety of aid and medical workers, including those representing ICRC and the UN must be ensured. It is key that those who come out from the conflict zone are treated in accordance with international standards and that the UN and ICRC are given a central role in their reception.
The Nordic Ministers also call on the parties to the conflict to take immediate steps to stop the human suffering, and to ensure an inclusive dialogue to agree on a political settlement so that lasting peace and reconciliation can be achieved.

[Full Coverage]

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