by Ananth PALAKIDNAR
The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora for Dialogue has expressed its dismay over the conditions put forward by the European Commission with regard to the GSP + concession.
Prof. Rajasingham Narendran and Dr. Noel Nadesan of the Diaspora Dialogue have described the European Union’s attitude as a ‘punitive measure’ towards Sri Lanka though the island nation has committed itself towards the rehabilitation and reconstruction process.
Prof. Narendran who was formerly a senior academic at the University of Peradeniya and is currently based in Saudi Arabia told the Sunday Observer that the EU should not act like a colonial master.
“Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation.The country has won the war which not only destroyed the lives and properties of the people but also crippled the country’s economy by devastating its resources.
Hence the GSP+ concession which Sri Lanka anticipates is towards the economic uplift and nothing else. Therefore, the European Union should respect the peace-building measures in the island and be supportive towards stabilising its economy.”
“The EU could give guidelines and directives to suit its expectations in Sri Lanka, but not the harsh conditions which it has put forward to grant the GSP+ concessions. Neighbouring countries and the international community at large appreciate the peace building process carried out by the island nation.”
“The Diaspora Dialogue met Government leaders for the first time during the final lap of the conflict last year. The members of the Diaspora Dialogue also visited IDP centres and witnessed the rehabilitation activities and we are happy to note that within one year several developments had taken place with regard to the resettlement process.”
“The Government has several plans to provide job opportunities for ex-Tiger cadres in the North and the East. Hence the EU should be more accommodative instead of coming down hard on Sri Lanka,” Prof Narendran said.
Dr. Noel Nadesan of the Diaspora Dialogue from Australia told the Sunday Observer that the EU’s latest move with regard to the GSP+ concessions would harm the post-war situation in the country.
They could have come out with their conditions long ago to end the conflict in the island. However, when the country is now beginning to rise from the adverse conditions of the three-decade conflict, the EU is trying to adopt bullying tactics towards Sri Lanka.
“The fingers that handled AK-47 weapons are now stitching the buttons on the shirts produced for Marks and Spencer at garment factories in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of ex-LTTE cadres have been given job opportunities in certain garment factories in Sri Lanka. There are moves to set up more factories in the North and the East, the region which was much affected by the conflict.
“Therefore, the EU should have a broader outlook towards the peace building process in the island. The EU’s latest move will definitely deny post-war opportunities to the people who were affected by the conflict. The EU should be more positive towards building peace in Sri Lanka with constructive guidelines and enormous financial assistance instead of adopting harsh measures,” Dr. Nadesan said.
The Tamil Diaspora Dialogue which was established to focus towards post-conflict issues in Sri Lanka by expatriate professionals has its membership around the globe with plans in assisting rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the North and the East according to Dr. Noel Nadesan.