Norway the Peace Maker

Norway in 2002 gained tremendous good will around the globe for its successful brokering of the peace process in Sri Lanka. For the Norwegian image in South East Asia, it added extra value that the negations were taking place in Thailand.
     The first talks in Thailand in September were quickly followed up with more talks in October and finally in Oslo in December. This year, the momentum was kept with a new round of talks in Bangkok in January.
     The government and Tigers entered an informal ceasefire in 2001. With Norwegian mediation, the agreement was upgraded to a bilateral truce in February 2002 by the new Government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The promising duration of the ceasefire, which lasted throughout the year 2002, was due to both the skilful diplomatic negotiations and the trustworthy Norwegian presence in the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission in Colombo.
     When the third session of peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was held in Oslo, Norway on 2 to 5 December 2002, the parties were ready to focus on the three major areas i.e. consolidation of the ceasefire, humanitarian and rehabilitation action and political matters in an open and constructive manner.
     The LTTE and the government then notched a breakthrough in their Norwegian-backed peace process by agreeing in principle to a “federal solution within a united Sri Lanka.” This contentious issue of power-sharing were thus at the focus of the fourth round of negotiations in Thailand in early January 2003, where the parties explored a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka.
     Anyone interested in following the process should regularly check the website http://www.peaceinsrilanka.org.
     An overview of the process and an assessment of the current prospects of success is written by the Norwegian Major General Trond Furuhovde, Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in Colombo.

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