Oslo steps aside!

“News has also surfaced that Norway, which handles issues in a moderate manner, had invited M.K.Narayanan, India’s National Security Advisor, who handles these affairs to visit Oslo to discuss the matter and that he had turned down the request with an excuse that he was having a tight schedule.”

by V.Sivaram

(September 03, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Following the Eelam War 4 between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, contribution of Norway as a facilitator became unwanted and it was ignored.

According to knowledgeable circles, a situation has arisen, where the Oslo may step aside completely.

The facilitation by Norway, which commenced 10 years ago, at the end of 1990 without any fanfare, comes to an end silently.

Oslo was invited to participate in the negotiations for peace as a facilitator by the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the LTTE Leader Prabaharan. That is how Oslo commenced its contributions.

Since Norway has experienced the displeasure of President Rajaapkse, who is currently in power, and since it feels that even the unilateral support of the LTTE is futile at this stage and since it realizes its inability to thrust any negotiations forcibly on either side, an atmosphere has arisen in which Norway has to keep aloof and give up its role as a facilitator.

Many assessed that Norway’s role as a facilitator has come to an end by January this year sequel to the ceasefire between the GOSL and LTTE officially becoming invalid and the war being unleashed.

Consequent to both sides – LTTE and the GOSL- indicating that Norway’s role as a facilitator had not come to an end and consequent to an expectation that prevailed for some time that both sides could return to the negotiating table, Oslo was made to wait.

Oslo also entertained a belief until recently that when the LTTE becomes stronger and when Ranil Wickremasinghe, the UNP Leader, secures power, it could be invited to be facilitator but, that expectation has been shattered, according to informed circles.

It is learnt that the overwhelming interest by New Delhi in the Sri Lankan ethnic problem, its interference and its new approach have compelled Oslo to completely withdraw from the scene.

Information regarding certain issues stressed by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his delegation that arrived in Colombo to participate at the recent SARRC Summit has begun to surface in certain English and Sinhala media.

These reports say that New Delhi conveyed to the Lankan government that it could facilitate for talks with the LTTE if the Lankan government could consent to devolution of power beyond what is proposed under the 13th amendment to the constitution.

It is now revealed that while exerting pressure on the LTTE to consent for talks, Delhi has conveyed the message to the GOSL.

What is striking is that New Delhi is exerting pressure to move forward for negotiations sans Norway’s facilitation. Colombo, which is caught up in the clutches of Buddhist Sinhala extremism, is enthusiastic about keeping Oslo away from the theater of negotiations.

But, it is reiterated that under no circumstances the LTTE’ is prepared for any negotiations without Norway’s facilitation or by sidelining Norway.

What is strange is that India has chosen Oslo as the venue to invite the LTTE to come forward for negotiations keeping Norway out of the scene.

Since the LTTE is banned in the West, it cannot function publicly there. Furthermore, there is harassment in EU countries such as Britain. Yet, countries such as Swiss and Norway permit the LTTE ’s political activities in public. In fact, several wings of the LTTE that took part during the peace talks have sought asylum in Norway for security reasons. New Delhi has attempted to meet the LTTE representatives in Norway and convey its message.

A senior official of the Indian diplomatic corps had visited Oslo prior to Dr.Manmohan Singh’s departure to Colombo for the SARRC Summit and held several rounds of talks with the LTTE at different levels.

The tone of New Delhi’s request, or rather the pressure, was that it could bring Colombo to the negotiating table in any event and that LTTE must come to talks sans Norway as facilitator.

It has come to light that although the LTTE supporters in Norway had clearly indicated that the LTTE would not come to negotiations sidelining Norway, New Delhi official has been rather adamant about its request.

It is also understood that finally, they managed to satisfy the official by saying that they could convey New Delhi’s wishes to the LTTE leadership. On the one hand, New Delhi communicated with the LTTE personages in Norway and on the other hand, it stressed Colombo to go for talks.

Meanwhile, Norway has smelt the contents of the talks between the Indian senior diplomatic official and the LTTE supporters in Oslo. As a result, it is learnt that Norway is frustrated over the issue.

News has also surfaced that Norway, which handles issues in a moderate manner, had invited M.K.Narayanan, India’s National Security Advisor, who handles these affairs to visit Oslo to discuss the matter and that he had turned down the request with an excuse that he was having a tight schedule.

While, Norway was playing an active role as a facilitator in the peace talks, it had always kept India briefed of every development, in deference to India being an important power in the region.

In the circumstances, Norway is frustrated with India’s manoueuvers despite the fact that it had maintained cordiality with India.

In the circumstances, due to its disenchantment, Norway is compelled to abandon its role as a facilitator and keep aloof. These circles also indicate that Norway is not too happy about the conduct of certain people who are in Oslo as their ‘guests’ .

What ever the case may be, the reality is that Norway’s role as a facilitator in Lankan ethnic issue has come to a halt!

(The writer, Colombo based Journalist who regularly contributing to the Sudar Oli,cthe Tamil Language daily news paper)
- Sri Lanka Guardian