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IP/02/1300

Brussels, 13 September 2002

European Commission to support peace talks in Sri Lanka

The European Commission has adopted on 13 September 2002 a decision to support the peace process in Sri Lanka under its Rapid Reaction Mechanism(1). Following the February 23 Cease Fire Agreement, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will start on Monday September 16, formal talks in Thailand on further steps to be taken in the peace process. The Commission's Decision is timed to coincide with the start of these talks. The additional Community funding is in recognition of the parties' commitment to the Cease Fire Agreement. Its main objective, for which the total budget is € 1.8 million, is to finance a series of measures to implement key provisions of the Cease Fire Agreement and to build confidence in the peace process.

The European Commission financed in May this year an assessment mission to Sri Lanka under its Rapid Reaction Mechanism (RRM) to explore possibilities for RRM-assistance for the peace process. On the basis of the outcomes of this mission and the August 14 Agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to start formal talks on September 16, the Commission prepared a programme to implement key provisions of the Cease Fire Agreement and to build confidence in the peace process. The programme will focus on highly visible actions demonstrating the importance the European Commission attaches to the political initiatives currently undertaken. This programme under the Rapid Reaction Mechanism is additional to and supportive of other Community programmes.

The programme consists of the following measures:

  • Support to the implementation of the Cease Fire Agreement by rehabilitating schools that had been used for military purposes before being vacated as agreed in the Cease Fire Agreement. This includes clearing the school areas of mines, rehabilitation of the buildings and refurbishing them with basic equipment.

  • The rehabilitation of electricity lines between the checkpoints on the Kandy-Jaffna road in order to improve the movement of people between the former conflict zones by allowing the checkpoints to be operational on a 24h per day basis.

  • A financial contribution to the Peace Secretariat in order to facilitate activities aiming at the dissemination of information concerning developments related to the peace process to key stakeholders and the population.

  • Support to activities of the Human Rights Commission aiming at raising awareness among the population of human rights in general and minority rights in particular.

The contracts under this programme will be signed in the coming days. Implementation of the planned activities will start shortly after.

In parallel, the Commission has started the process to mobilise € 4 million under the Rehabilitation budget line. These funds will be used for the rehabilitation of the Batticaloa Railroad, an additional contribution to assist the return of displaced persons and to finance a mine survey under the UN Mine Action Programme. The Commission will follow up these activities with its Country Strategy Paper 2003-2006.

Further information on EC-relations with Sri Lanka can be found at

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/sri_lanka/intro/index.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/cpcm/doc.htm

(1) IP/01/255 of 26 February 2001: Council adopts Rapid Reaction Mechanism Commission now in position to intervene fast in civilian crisis management.


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