EU decision, an eye-opener
The European Union (EU) took a
bold decision last week by including the LTTE again in its list of
terrorist groups. The EU took this decision after a comprehensive review
and the announcement was made through the Council Implementing
Regulation on January 31 and published in the official journal of the
The LTTE has been re-listed among 26 Groups and Entities as it has
been involved in terrorist acts within the meaning of Article 1(2) and
(3) of the Council Common Position 2001/931/CFSP of December 27, 2001 on
the application of specific measures to combat terrorism.
The announcement published in the official journal of the EU states
that "The Council has carried out a complete review of the list of
persons, groups and entities to which Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001
applies, as required by Article 2(3) of that Regulation. When doing so
it took into account the observations submitted to the Council by those
Sri Lanka is fast recovering having eradicated LTTE terrorism on May
18, 2009 and the EU's decision would indisputably shatter even the
wildest dreams of Tiger sympathisers. At a time when Sri Lanka is
bouncing back with a significant economic boom to regain its lost
prestige due to three decades of LTTE terror, it is incumbent on the
international community, especially those who strongly campaign against
international terror, to extend their wholehearted support.
Hence, the EU's decision amply demonstrates its sincere commitment to
eliminate international terrorism. The LTTE has time and again attempted
to pull wool over the eyes of the EU. Even LTTE front organisations had
resorted to various stratagems to mislead the EU with distorted versions
and wrong data. As a result, even the EU took certain decisions and
issued statements which were unfavourable to Sri Lanka.
Having failed miserably in its campaigns to exert international
pressure to cease the humanitarian operation, the LTTE's propaganda mill
is now making another subtle attempt to level war crimes allegations
against Sri Lanka. The LTTE goons, along with some invertebrate
Opposition politicians had projected a dismal picture on the human
rights situation before the international community. UNP Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe jumped on the bandwagon and made several tours to Europe
to issue concocted statements detrimental to Sri Lanka. Consequently,
the EU ceased the GSP Plus trade facility which Sri Lanka enjoyed over a
period of time.
Nevertheless, Sri Lanka has shown its resilience notwithstanding the
ups and downs. The local garment industry has again proved its
competitiveness in the international markets despite adverse external
conditions sans any preferential treatment or concessions such as the
GSP Plus to European markets. Export figures for 2010 released recently
have shown a marginal growth in export to the main EU and US markets.
The growth in the export of garments to the EU, in a situation where
GSP Plus tax concessions had been withdrawn, is undoubtedly an
encouragement and the industry is progressing in its forward march.
The total value of Sri Lanka's garment exports during the past year
was USD 3,359.3 million, a 6.4 percent growth compared to USD 3,157.6
million in 2009. Exports to the EU market were USD 1,702.2 million, a
3.4 percent increase compared to USD 1,646.8 million in 2009. There had
been a 34.4 percent increase in total exports during December 2010
compared to the corresponding period in 2009. Exports to the US and EU
markets had increased by 35 and 32.8 percent during the month.
Apart from the withdrawal of the GSP Plus trade concession to the EU,
the garment industry had to encounter the negative impact of the global
financial crisis in the first and second quarters of the year. Sri
Lanka's export revenue would have been definitely higher, had the GSP
Plus concessions been in place. Sri Lanka had lost an added advantage
due to the LTTE sympathisers and Sri Lanka's opportunist Opposition
In this scenario, the EU has taken a praiseworthy decision by
re-listing the LTTE as a terror outfit. It is an open secret how the
LTTE disrupted normal life and was hell-bent on inflicting misery on
millions of people, killing thousands of innocent civilians and
destroying public property indiscriminately.
Sri Lanka had not only eliminated the LTTE to rescue over half a
million people held as a human shield by Tiger terrorists, but also set
an example to the rest of the world by reintegrating ex-terrorists in
society. When LTTE terror was vanquished in May 2009, over 11,000 child
soldiers and other terrorists surrendered to the Security Forces. The
Government set in motion a special rehabilitation program to reintegrate
them into the society.
The rapid pace at which the rehabilitation and reintegration process
of ex-LTTE combatants took place during the past one-and-a-half years is
an eye-opener to other countries that face a similar fate. Many ex-LTTE
cadre have been reintegrated into civilian life and are now exploiting
the vocational training they received to uplift their living conditions.
The Government with the assistance of foreign organisations has spent
a colossal sum of money to develop and restore normal civilian life in
those areas affected by LTTE terror. Moreover, roads and other
infrastructure have been rebuilt and social development programs are in
place with more in the pipeline. Most of the people displaced due to
terrorism have returned to their original homes as the country now
focuses on healing and reconciliation.
The Government has spared no pains to restore most of the things that
were lost due to the LTTE's inhuman acts and barbaric terrorism.
Whatever said and done, it is sad but true that the lives of thousands
of innocent civilians and social leaders assassinated by the LTTE could
never be restored. The Government is making a concerted effort to
provide a secure future with better infrastructure facilities for those
who have been displaced and for those living in the North and the East.
President Rajapaksa and the UPFA Government have won successive
elections with a thumping majority and the masses have pledged their
utmost support to the President in no uncertain terms to take Sri Lanka
towards new economic horizons. The continued support of the
international community including the EU would enable Sri Lanka to reach
that goal sooner rather than later.