sri express

Responding to British Foreign, Secretary William Hague’s statement to the British parliament that UK is working in support of a strong resolution which calls for an international investigation, External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris said pursuing a country relentlessly and talk of an international investigation would lead to a dramatic polarization.

"You have to engage with the country. You have to recognize the dignity, the self-esteem, the self-respect of the country. Any imposition from outside is going to inflict enormous damage on a very delicate and sensitive internal reconciliation process", Peiris said in an exclusive interview with Sri Express on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Day programs in London last week.

The hard fact is that the resolution is being sponsored by very powerful countries. US is sponsoring the resolution, the UK backing it and I am afraid that an incredible pressure is being brought on countries whose votes are being canvassed. Countries are being told that they must support the resolution otherwise there will be economic consequences. That is grossly unfair. The voting patterns must depend on the objective appraisal on the circumstances relevant to the Sri Lankan situation. What matters is the well being of the Sri Lankan people, he noted.

But the regrettable reality is that voting pattern is going to be determined by the bilateral relationships between the US and the UK on the one hand and the countries whose votes are being canvassed on the other. It becomes a matter of self-interest on the countries whose votes are being canvassed and that is directly contrary to the principles enshrined in the Charter of the UN and more particularly the mandate given to the Human Rights Council (HRC) by the General Assembly, he explained.

"What is very sad is the motivations are nothing to do with Sri Lanka. It is to do with political ambitions and political interests of other countries. In some countries, the Diaspora have numbers which can tilt the scale in a closely fought election. It is not only a question of numbers and the voting strength. It is also question of money. Don’t forget, for 30 years the LTTE accumulated large resources. This money is being used to cultivate political influence", the Minister asserted.   

Minister Peiris said that he spent 4-1/2 days in Geneva and made the country statement on March 5. "I met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillai and I also met the President of the Human Rights Council and many of the foreign ministers who were present in Geneva for the High Level Segment. This is the third consecutive year when a resolution on Sri Lanka is being presented, he recalled.

"It started in March 2012. It happened March 2013 and again March 2014. We have several problems in this approach one of which is that it is totally biased. It does not taking to account the very substantial progress which has been made in our country in the four year which elapsed since the cessation of hostilities. There must be question of balancing this. You have to remember this is a 30 year conflict and we have had just four years in which to deal with the fallout from that conflict. By any reasonable standard the progress is very substantial", Peiris said.

"Whatever anyone may say, no reconciliation process is going to be successful if you neglect the economic aspect. If people are poor, disgruntled and complaining all the time, whatever else you do in the name of reconciliation, it won’t be successful on the ground. So, we focused on the economic dimension. Then came political empowerment" Minister stressed.


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