Tracking the Norwegian
Conflict Resolution Initiative
Oslo Talks - June 2006
Norway blames EU for Sri Lanka talks crisis
Source: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE 10 June 2006
Norway has blamed the European Union for contributing to a breakdown in talks
between Sri Lanka and Tamil Tigers, which has thrown the question of further
Norwegian mediation wide open. The rebels Thursday aborted a two- day meeting in
Oslo with Colombo representatives arranged by Norway to discuss the safety of
the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission overseeing a fragile truce.
They said they objected to the presence of EU members in the mission following a
decision by the Europeans last month to place rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam on its list of terrorist organizations.
"There is no doubt that this is an underlying issue hardening the position of
the LTTE prior to the Oslo meeting," said Erik Solheim, Norway's minister for
As Norway pondered its future role after failed talks left their staff on the
ground exposed and without explicit backing from the warring parties, it also
blamed the two adversaries for their role in the breakdown of talks.
"The parties must take responsibility for the worsening situation," said an
angry Solheim Friday.
"They have been acting contrary to our advice. There is at the present time no
room for a Norwegian initiative in the peace process."
But Norwegian observers also faulted the EU for offending the rebels at a
sensitive time, and doing its own members a disservice at the same time.
"The EU decision was taken on the basis of certain criteria about which
organizations should be on the list, without taking into consideration the
adverse consequences the decision might have for their own member states," said
Stein Toennesson, director of the Oslo Peace Research Institute.
"The EU is not suited for taking positions on acute political problems. It has
long been known that the LTTE, through the Norwegian facilitators, has tried to
avoid ending up on the EU terror list."
The rebels called for removal of truce monitors from EU states, which observers
in Norway said would reduce the mission to 20 peacekeepers from nearly 60 now.
Norway, which has been Sri Lanka's peacebroker since January 2000, was also
accused by the Tigers of focusing too much on arranging a face-to-face meeting
rather than discussing truce issues.
Diplomats said the failure of Norway's latest efforts have fuelled fears the
island could return to full-scale hostilities.
More than 680 people have been killed since December despite a truce.