Sri Lanka: The
Need for Rational Thinking
26 March 2002
We are now at a crucial point in our mutual journey
The mini general election for local government bodies of which the
results were known last week showed a truly massive vote in favour
of the peace process. All those who oppose it, including the mad
President, have been consigned to the dustbin of history. The way is
clear now for the next step – the commencement of face-to-face
negotiations between the two sides.
It has to proceed on the basis of rational thinking, not of wishful
thinking to which the Sinhala side has been prone for so many years.
For instance, there can be no question of asking the LTTE to disarm
unilaterally. If disarmament is the best way ahead, then both sides
must disarm not just one side. I think it is “a bridge too far” to
approach. The Tamil people, just like the Sinhala people, need the
security of their own arms and their own state.
The only means I know for reconciling this imperative with even the
semblance of a single state is for a Union similar to the Benelux
Union of three states, one of which (The Netherlands) I am a
national. The Benelux Union is a purely social union, not a
political union. Politically the three states are entirely separate
each having its own monarch, parliament, armed forces, currency and
separate membership of the UN. Their citizens, however, can travel
freely among them without internal border controls, can live in any
of them without any governmental permission or control, can do
business in any of them freely conforming to the laws of the country
in which the business is done.
The Benelux Union was formed in 1952 and was the model on which the
Treaty of Rome in 1957 which set up the European Economic Community
was based. It is a working model on which the Union of ‘Sri-Lam’ can
be based with, perhaps, a rotating overall Presidency. Any attempt
to compress the two nations within the straitjacket of a single
state is certain to fail after what has happened so far.
Our two nations have drifted apart with each unable to understand
the dynamics that drive the other. So, I can see no alternative to a
Union on the Benelux model. It is a model which has been a