A respected British newspaper yesterday said that European Union ministers will formally adopt a resolution to ban the LTTE on 29 May 2006.
Quoting EU diplomats, the Times said that Britain and other countries had persuaded Sweden, Denmark and Finland to overcome their reservations and that pressure from the United States was also a factor.
TamilNet gave prominence to the Times story. This was regarded as significant in some quarters.
`The 25 member states unanimously agreed to the ban on Thursday night after Britain and other countries persuaded Sweden, Denmark and Finland to overcome their reservations,` the Times said.
`The Scandinavian countries were showing solidarity with Norway, which has acted as peace broker in Sri Lanka and strongly believes that proscribing the Tamil Tigers as terrorists will be counter-productive.`
`There is now an agreement. The last reservations have been lifted,` one EU diplomat told the paper. `The agreement in principle, which was cloaked in secrecy until now, will be formally adopted by EU ministers on May 29.`
The Times felt the move is likely to bring about the restriction of diplomatic contacts with EU governments, a bar on fundraising by the group, a freeze on its assets and the prevention of Tamil Tiger members from travelling to the EU.
The Europe-wide ban was agreed two days after a request by the US. `Washington`s request was a determining factor,` a diplomat is quoted as saying. Washington and EU member states `hope that proscribing the LTTE will help to bring it to the negotiating table.`
However, Ulf Henricsson, the retired Swedish MajorGeneral leading the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, has warned that it could backfire.
`I`m not sure the EU ban is coming at the right time,` he told the Times. `Worst-case scenario might be that the LTTE thinks it is abandoned by everyone and there is no alternative to a full-scale guerrilla war. They target Colombo ? investors leave, tourists leave, rich people leave.`
SLMM spokesperson Helen Olafsdottir said that Henricsson left for Norway yesterday morning. In a speech made at Norway`s national day celebrations in Colombo last week, Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar openly praised Henricsson and his team for the work they were doing in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, LTTE chief negotiator Anton Balasingham told TamilNet yesterday that the EU Parliament`s resolution imposing punitive measures and censuring the Tigers was `unfair, untimely and utterly biased`.
`The resolution was certainly one-sided. It blames the LTTE for the increasing violence and for the deadlock in the peace process. But the Sri Lankan government has been given a mild, sympathetic treatment with compliments to President Rajapakse`s actions! The enormous suffering inflicted on Tamil civilians, the widespread killings and massive displacements caused by aerial and artillery bombardments, the series of brutal murders by army-backed paramilitaries are conveniently ignored,` Balasingham says.
`The observation in the EU Parliamentary resolution suffers credibility since it fails to acknowledge the appalling conditions of the reality of the ground situation in the Tamil homeland,` he continues.
`The European Union is set to blacklist the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, hoping such a punitive action will force the LTTE to the negotiating table, irrespective of this ground reality,` he asserts. `I gravely doubt that the LTTE leadership will bow down to pressure and humiliation. As such, this move will be counter-productive. Faced with global isolation and humiliation, the LTTE may be compelled to stay away from further talks.`
`The impending proscription by the European Union, which has been sympathetic to Tamil grievances, will severely deepen the asymmetry between the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE?a liberation movement?and thus make productive political engagement extremely difficult. Furthermore, this state-biased decision to blacklist the LTTE will boost the Sri Lankan government`s global campaign to cast the legitimate struggle of the Tamil people as a mere phenomenon of terrorism which does not deserve political engagement on its part. The EU intervention will thus emerge as a serious impediment to reaching a just and lasting solution to Sri Lanka`s conflict.`