The Need for Rational Thinking
We are now at a crucial point in our mutual journey towards peace.
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 resounding success.