“It is a legal victory, but obviously, it should also be won [as] a political victory. And this decision would be a perfect moment to start negotiations again,” said LTTE’s lawyer Victor Koppe, commenting on Thursday’s European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgement in the LTTE vs. EU case. For reasons not sure to him, Great Britain and the Netherlands, the former colonisers of the island, actively defended the LTTE ban in the case, the Amsterdam-based attorney said in an interview to TamilNet on Saturday. It was the UK who initiated the ban. In bringing a new moment for re-evaluation, national action in that country should be the first thing that could be done. “If you are asking which countries may be on a national level where people should take legal action, I suppose it would be Great Britain, which comes to my mind,” Mr. V. Koppe said.
Responding to media reports on Colombo volunteering to supply new evidence to make the EU to come out with a new ban, the lawyer said, “There is nothing they can come up with.”
Koppe said that he was very happy about the ECJ judgement, as it has exposed the very strong, big mistakes, the EU had committed.
Even though the Court cannot strongly intervene in such decisions, it has used the legal space “Margin of Appreciation,” and has come out with the verdict on what was not proper and flawed, the lawyer said, adding that it is now time for the EU to fundamentally re-evaluate the situation.
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Full text of Victor Koppe’s interview to TamilNet:
TamilNet: As the ruling by the European Court of Justice has exposed, the terrorism proscription on LTTE by EU had been carried out with vague premises. What is your opinion on this?
Victor Koppe: It is clear that the decision of the European Union [to proscribe the LTTE in 2006] was flawed in its various aspects. I am very happy with the results [of the legal challenge].
However, it was a battle in the legal arena.
With this decision in hand, we are now in another phase, we are many years ahead again. I think it would be a good political momentum to start talking again.
I think it is up to the European Union to really ask itself the question, should we want to continue with this ban. The world situation is changed so much. I think this would be a very appropriate moment to rethink and reconsider this decision to put the LTTE on EU terrorist list.
It is a legal victory, but obviously, it should also be won [as] a political victory. And this decision would be a perfect moment to start negotiations again.
TamilNet: Do you think the ruling will have an impact on the future course to be taken by the European Union?
Koppe: The ball is on the court of European Union. It is clear that the Court has said the way it [the ban] has been done; and the way it was argued; and the way it was framed, is not good. If you have to do it again, you have to do it properly.
So, it is up to the European Union to come up with a new reasoned decision.
But, I think the European Union should ask itself the question do we want to continue this road, do we want to have a look at it again. If yes, what would be the possible alternative solutions?
I really and sincerely hope, with this decision in hand, that a new political momentum will arrive.
There should be a fundamental reconsideration in the position of the European Union. They made some – very strong – big mistakes. It is time to reconsider things with this decision in hand.
TamilNet: What are the immediate and practical implications of the ruling?
Koppe: Well, the problem legally is that the Court really has not very strong ways to intervene in decisions. It has only a ‘margin of appreciation’ as it is called. Within that space, it has said that the way it has been done is not proper and it is flawed.
Like I said earlier, it is up to the European Union to come up with a new decision. The question really is why should there be a new decision. Obviously, nothing has happened in the recent years. It is really time for a new decision in the benefit of the LTTE.
TamilNet: The Sri Lankan government has responded by saying that it would come up with new evidences to re-impose the ban on the LTTE in Europe. What is your comment on this?
Koppe: There is nothing they can come up with. There is nothing they can provide. It has been very silent for many years now. It is good that the European Union is forced to re-evaluate the situation. Let us just hope that they will do this and they would do it properly.
TamilNet: Which Member States were active in defending the EU proscription on the LTTE?
Koppe: It is both the former colonisers of Sri Lanka – The Netherlands and the Great Britain. But, they were the ones who were very active. I am not quite sure why. As you know, there have been all kinds of legal proceedings in France and Germany as well. But, it is especially the Great Britain and Holland who were taking the lead on this. I really hope that these two countries also re-consider their positions and take this European Court decision as a new moment to re-evaluate the situation.
TamilNet: Where and what kind of legal actions could be taken at national level?
Koppe: Especially in Great Britain, I think, a lot of proper actions can be taken. Ultimately, it was Great Britain, who initiated the ban. So, national action in Great Britain seems to be the first thing that could be done. However, it is also clear that it is a European battle, not only the Great Britain and Holland, which were active.
Ultimately, the decision to place the LTTE on the list of terrorist organisations has effect in 28 EU countries. But, if you are asking which countries may be on a national level where people should take legal action, I suppose it would be Great Britain, which comes to my mind.