Winning peace will be real victory in Sri Lanka: EU

May 14th, 2009 - 12:51 am ICT by IANS  

Brussels, May 13 (IANS) The European Union (EU) Wednesday expressed concern over the growing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and stressed that reaching a sustainable political settlement in the country would be a real victory.
“The EU agrees that reaching a sustainable political settlement that meets the aspirations of all communities in Sri Lanka is essential for the future prosperity and long term development of the Island,” the 27-member bloc said in a statement here.

“The EU emphasises that winning the peace would be the real victory,” said the statement that was released following the two-day visit to Sri Lanka by a vice-ministerial troika of the grouping, EuAsiaNews reported.

The troika was sent to the troubled island nation to assess the humanitarian and human rights situation arising out of the ongoing fighting between government troops and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) rebels in northern Sri Lanka.

The EU recognised that the current crisis in Sri Lanka was “approaching a final phase with the defeat of the LTTE militarily”.

“The EU acknowledges the efforts and welcomes the commitments made by the Government in assisting its citizens that have escaped the conflict zone,” it noted.

“The LTTE is a terrorist organisation that acts through violence and has been listed as such in the EU. The EU condemns unreservedly the LTTE’s failure to release civilians under its control and repeats its call for the LTTE to lay down its arms, ” stressed the statement.

However, the EU reiterated its expectation that the government in Sri Lanka will abide by its own commitment not to use heavy weapons in the conflict zone. “Fighting terrorism must be done in full respect for the rule of law and human rights,” it said.

Expressing deep concerns over the increasing number of civilian casualties in the war-zone, the Europan grouping called on the government to take serious efforts and utmost care to bring out all civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

More than 20,000 civilians were estimated to remain in the rebel-held territory of less than six square kilometres on the coast of the Mullaitivu district, 395 km northeast of Colombo. The government is conducting an offensive to capture the area and defeat the LTTE, which has been fighting for 25 years for an independent homeland for the Tamil ethnic minority.

More than 450 civilians have been killed in the area since the weekend with the government and the LTTE each blaming one another for the casualties.

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