The Norwegian Special Envoy, Maj Gen Trond
Furuhovde, says that the situation in Sri Lanka is "alarming" with a
"dreadful subversive war" going on, but he is against the deployment
of a foreign force to keep the peace.
Addressing the Foreign Correspondents' Association on Friday, Gen
Furuhovde said that the killings going on in the troubled
Tamil-speaking North East Province and Colombo were "very dangerous
for the country." But he cautioned against inducting a foreign multi
nation or single nation peace keeping force because the presence of
such a force would take away from the two parties to the conflict
the primary responsibility for observing the Ceasefire Agreement
(CFA) and keeping the peace.He even said that the induction of a
foreign peace keeping force would be interference in the peace
Gen Furuhovde said that the general trend in the UN Security Council
was to send either a multinational or single nation force to
conflict areas, but in the Sri Lankan case, there was no active
foreign player other than the peace facilitator Norway.
While admitting that the situation in Sri Lanka was alarming, he
pleaded that people should give a chance to the current approach of
keeping "external intervention" to the minimum.
The retired Norwegian General, who is now in the island to make the
government and the LTTE start having talks on the implementation of
the CFA signed in February 2002, said that what was going on was but
a continuation of the full scale war which the LTTE and the Sri
Lankan government had waged before the CFA was signed.
It was the same war by other means and with different targets, he
said. Instead of regular troops clashing with each other, there are
assassinations of rival leaders and cadres, killings of ordinary
civilians, policemen and military intelligence personnel, abductions
Gen Furuhovde called this a "transitional war" or a "subversive
war", every incident of which was a violation of Art 1.2 of the CFA
and therefore injurious to the agreement and peace in general.
He further said that a "lot of elements" were involved in this war,
without pinpointing any of them. On the importance of the breakaway
faction of the LTTE led by Col Karuna in this subversive war, Gen
Furuhovde said that the Karuna factor was "very important."
Such a "transitional" war between a full-scale war and full peace,
were not uncommon in conflict areas, he said, but they could be
controlled by the two parties, if they began talking. This was why
Norway was very keen that the talks between the Sri Lankan
government and the LTTE should begin as early as possible.
The two sides have been mulling the idea of having talks on the
implementation of the CFA, but are stuck on the issue of the venue.
The government wants the talks to be held in Sri Lanka, while the
LTTE wants a place abroad in a neutral country.
The General, however, said that chances of talks being held now,
with the country in the threshold of a Presidential election, were
not too bright.
On the issue of the monitoring of human rights violations by the
LTTE and the government, General Furuhovde said that ceasefire
violations should be treated as a distinct category. Ian Martin, the
human rights advisor in the Sri Lankan peace process, had suggested
a single agency for monitoring human rights violations.
Gen Furuhovde said that the process of getting the two sides out of
the war mode would be a long one because of years of mutual dislike,
mistrust, militancy and warring. As on date, he said, there seemed
to be political and cultural differences between the LTTE and the
The philosophically inclined General said that what was needed was
to go through a process which would begin with acquiring mutual
tolerance, then go on to the adoption of a policy of
non-discrimination, and then finally establishing equality, the
ultimate basis of lasting peace.
He appealed to all groups in Sri Lanka, and the local as well as the
international media, to be patient, and encourage the two sides to
seek common ground and highlight the positive aspects and progress
made in the peace process rather than only highlight the negatives
Gen Furuhovde pointed out that the peace process had many
achievements to its credit. The opening of the A9 highway through
the LTTE-controlled area of Wanni was a major triumph. The spin off
from this had been felt by thousands of Sri Lankans on both sides of
the ethnic divide. There were smaller achievements too, such as the
recent provision of an Air Force helicopter to airlift a wounded top
LTTE operative to a hospital in Colombo.