Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Tamil National Alliance Statement

Released 3 December 2011

The TNA remains committed to proceed with the talks constructively. The TNA urges the government to honour the mutual agreement reached and not to place new impediments to achieving an acceptable political solution that is desired by all the Peoples of Sri Lanka.

At the Bilateral talks between the TNA and the government delegation on the 16th of November the parties identified the issues to be discussed and agreed upon in evolving a political solution. The parties agreed on the specific order in which these issues were to be discussed and for this purpose scheduled four meetings, on the 1st, 6th, 14th, and 15th of December 2011. Thereafter, a time-table setting out these dates and issues was also circulated.

At the first of these meetings held on Thursday December 1st 2011, the Hon. Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L. Peiris indicated at the very outset that without the TNA nominating its representatives to constitute the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), the bilateral talks could not progress as previously agreed.

Prof. G.L. Peiris was reminded that his request was contrary to what had already been agreed between the parties that: "once agreement was reached with the government delegation at these talks, which can be placed before the PSC as suggested, they [TNA] would join the PSC process". This agreement was recorded in the minutes of the meeting on 16th September 2011, which was confirmed at the subsequent meeting held on 20th October 2011. It is based on this agreement that at the next meeting held on 16th November 2011, four dates were fixed for talks in the first half of December itself, as was publicly acknowledged by Prof. G.L. Peiris on November 24, 2011.

When the government was reminded by the TNA of the commitment already made, it requested time to deliberate and consequently a new meeting was scheduled for Saturday 3rd December. Today despite lengthy discussions, the government delegation's position remained inconclusive.

It is important to recognise the history of the current engagement. Talks in regard to a political solution commenced on 10 Jan 2011 as proposed by H.E the President between a delegation of the SLFP on behalf of the government and the TNA as the major political party representing the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.

The TNA at the first meeting on 10 January 2011 outlined its proposed political solution, and subsequently, at the second meeting on 3 February 2011, at the request of the government, tendered it in writing. At the further request of the government more comprehensive proposals were submitted in writing at the third meeting on 18 March 2011. The government then agreed to submit its response to enable a meaningful and purposeful dialogue to commence on these proposals.

Seven further meetings were held in the course of the next five months. But the government did not submit its response, despite repeatedly undertaking to do so. It is in this context that , at the meeting held on 4 August 2011 the TNA stated that no meaningful and purposeful dialogue could commence as the government had hitherto failed to respond to its comprehensive proposals and that no purpose would be served by fixing a further date for talks unless and until the government made its response available.

Thereafter, consequent to a meeting between H.E. the President and the Leader of the TNA on 2nd September 2011, modalities were decided upon, on the basis of which dates would be fixed for the commencement of talks. Accordingly, the delegations met again on 16th September 2011, where the modalities were noted, included in the minutes, and confirmed at the following meeting on the 20th October 2011.

As per these modalities, and as confirmed in the minutes, it was inter alia agreed that the bilateral talks between the government delegation and the TNA would continue and the consensus arrived at would be placed before the proposed Select Committee of Parliament. The TNA reiterates that its nomination to the PSC must await substantial consensus being reached at the bilateral talks, as was agreed.

The TNA remains committed to proceed with the talks constructively. The TNA urges the government to honour the mutual agreement reached and not to place new impediments to achieving an acceptable political solution that is desired by all the Peoples of Sri Lanka.

R. Sampanthan
Leader of the Tamil National Alliance
3 December 2011