We all have to learn to be Sri Lankans. The day we are able to think as Sri Lankans first, and later as Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims and Burghers, that is the day we will win. That will be the winning point, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.
In an interview wit IANS yesterday, Rajapaksa made light of India`s criticism that Tamils were not with Colombo, saying the Government had failed to convince the world about its sincerity to resolve the ethnic conflict.
The Defence Secretary Rajapaksa added that Sri Lanka would never talk to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) because it would be a wasted effort.
Rajapaksa, asked to comment on India`s National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan`s comments on Tuesday that even if Sri Lanka won the battle against the LTTE it would not win the war because `they haven`t got the Tamil population on their side`, he told IANS over the phone: `The only area where we have failed is to show our genuineness, to convince the outsiders, about our sincerity in resolving the problem. In action we have proved it.
Unfortunately, we are not good at propaganda. If Tamils indeed are not with us, then it is our weakness.
`There is nothing negative to what Narayanan has said. In my opinion, he has only put in different words what our President has been saying, that we need to defeat terrorism but the (ethnic) problem needs to be resolved (politically).
`There is nothing bad against Sri Lanka in what Narayanan has said.
It is significant that he has said that the military is winning. And he has never said that we should talk to the LTTE. These are very positive things.
`On the whole it is the inability of the President and the Government to show the sincerity to the Tamils and to the outside world. We have to improve that... It will take time... As for Narayanan, I understand him very well. I know his vision.`
He, however, maintained that the Government which has captured the Eastern Province from the LTTE and is now trying to seize the North from the LTTE would never talk to the Tigers.
Saying all previous negotiations with the LTTE had failed to resolve the problem, he said: `It is very clear it is useless talking to the LTTE because it is not genuine or sincere.
Ultimately, there will have to be a political solution, a permanent solution. And my solution is political.` Rajapaksa admitted that in the past 25-30 years, promises were made to the Tamil community that were not kept.
He referred to the provincial elections in the east in May that led to a former LTTE cadre becoming The Chief Minister of the province.
He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa was determined to replicate what had been achieved in the East in the North, parts of which are held by the LTTE and where fighting is on.
Asked if seizing the LTTE-controlled north would be as easy as in the East, he said: `The LTTE are not in the Mullaitivu jungles because they wanted it but because they were pushed into it. They would have preferred Jaffna peninsula or Trincomalee.
That would have been advantageous because those are built up areas... But they were chased away from Jaffna, chased away from Trincomalee. However it will take more troops in the Sri Lankan North because it is a large area.`
`Ultimately, we all have to learn to be Sri Lankans.
The day we are able to think as Sri Lankans first, and later as Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims and Burghers, that is the day we will win. That will be the winning point.`