President tells UN General Assembly:
Tigers must abandon arms, enter democracy for talks
***l Govt will not permit division of Sri Lanka
***l Committed to implement political solution
***l Concerted action needed on Millennium Development Goals
***l World must act on food and energy crises
New York: The Government will only be ready to talk to the LTTE when
it is ready to commit itself to decommissioning its illicit weapons and
dismantling of its military capability, and return to the democratic
fold, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the UN General Assembly
“The Government has also made it clear that the elected Government
cannot and will not permit undermining of the territorial integrity of
the sovereign UN Member State of Sri Lanka and the division of its
territory. We are clear in this message,” President Rajapaksa said.
Our Government has always been ready to address the causes of these
issues and effectively implement political and constitutional solutions
to meet the aspirations and rights of all communities, the President
“The complex situation in Sri Lanka needs to be addressed and
resolved through an appropriate process of deterrent law and order
action and patient political efforts of consensus building.
We have achieved the difficult but essential task of building
democracy in the Eastern Province and are confident that it can be done
in the North as well.”
“What the Government would not, and could not do is to let an illegal
and armed terrorist group, the LTTE, to hold a fraction of our
population, a part of the Tamil community, hostage to such terror in the
northern part of Sri Lanka and deny those people their democratic rights
of dissent and free elections. Through our past actions, we have proved
“The Government has therefore declared its policy of engaging in
dialogue and discussion with the democratic leadership of the Tamil
community, a people who have lived in harmony with other Sri Lankans for
centuries. Today, there are Tamil leaders holding responsible
ministerial posts in my Government,” he remarked.
The President stressed that all successive Governments have
endeavoured to resolve the problem for over 25 years, including through
Norwegian facilitation and international Co-Chairs overseeing a
so-called peace process that was treated with contempt by the
“On each occasion that talks were held seeking peace, the terrorists
walked out on the flimsiest of excuses and reverted to terrorism of the
worst kind, indiscriminately targeting innocent civilians.
“The Government’s objective is to enable the people to enjoy the
benefits of the democratic processes and to speed the development
activities in those areas where there was a heavy presence of
terrorists. This would be similar to the fast tracking of economic
development taking place in the Eastern Province, where former
terrorists now function as democratically elected Provincial Councillors,
and a former child soldier conscripted by the LTTE is now the elected
Chief Minister, having abandoned terrorism and embraced democracy.
Significantly, the restoration of democracy in the East of Sri Lanka was
achieved in less than one year of it being freed from the clutches of
terror, the President noted.
“The Government has also sought and received the cooperation of the
United Nations, ICRC and other agencies to help us in providing
humanitarian assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and
other affected civilians.
“The Government of Sri Lanka continues this humanitarian policy even
today although we know that the terrorists seize a good proportion of
these humanitarian supplies.
“This is not all, the Government also purchases the paddy and other
foodstuffs produced in those areas. I do not think there is any country
in the world where there is a Government that provides such humanitarian
assistance to terrorists that attack it.
Our Government considers the supply of humanitarian relief to its
people as its prime responsibility.”
Turning his attention to one of the prime topics of the General
Assembly, the President said Sri Lanka will contribute to the goal of
increasing food production, investing more in agriculture and research,
and sharing technologies and best practices.
Sri Lanka sees self-sufficiency as the answer to overcoming the food
crisis and giving strength to nations.
“We also must find solutions to the energy crisis that are both
equitable and pragmatic. Energy supplies must be diversified by
developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient and cost-effective
technologies, for both fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. We
need to engage in energy conservation and accept the reality of
dependence on fossil fuels for much longer.”
He lamented that most Millennium Development Goals are behind
schedule. “The slowing down of global economic growth, financial turmoil
and speculation, rising food and fuel prices and the impacts of climate
change are clear and present obstacles.
Also, based on their political role, sanctions imposed on the
leaders, and the leadership of some countries following some protests,
are in fact targeted at the innocent people of those countries.” He
called for determined and concerted actions to enable progress towards
the realisation of the agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
The President also spoke of the need for UN reforms.
The full text of the President’s speech will be published tomorrow.