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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2641

War and conflict in Sri Lanka would not fetch foreign aid

By Quintus Perera - Asian Tribune

Colombo, 02 September, ( People of Germany and for that matter even the international community though are willing to help Sri Lanka, they ask the question as to why should support countries that spend more on arms than on schools and hospitals. This was stated by Jurgen Weert, Ambassador of Germany in Sri Lanka while addressing the 15th Business for Peace Forum of the Business for Peace Initiative of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka (FCCISL) on the theme “Maintaining the Balance of Peace Building and Economic Growth in Sri Lanka: The German Perspective”, held at JAIC Hilton Hotel.

Nawaz Rajabdeen, President, FCCISL in his welcome address acknowledged the German Government’s concerns and deep interest in Sri Lanka and said that in many occasions Germany demonstrated the abiding interest in the human aspect of the situation facing the people in the North and the East. He said that FCCISL too is deeply concerned by the conflict in the North and East.

He said that Germany has for decades been a great friend of Sri Lanka and has not only stood by Sri Lanka but also given material assistance in a variety of ways.

He said that the conflict situation in those two areas has led FCCISL to launch a series of programmes which have contributed to the alleviation of problems confronting the business community in thee two provinces.

Mr Rajabdeen said that they have also initiated a dialogue in regard to business and peace with the different stakeholders and also with diverse intelligentsia and personalities.

German Ambassador Weerth continuing his address said that Germans have decided to concentrate support to those countries which are focused on their country’s welfare and building better future for all its citizens and to determine whether this is the case, they have established a number of benchmarks such as respect for human rights, the rule of law and all that entails; participation of citizens in the political process; a market economy framework that pays attention to social needs; a government policy and action that is geared to building abetter future for everyone.

He said that foreign investors would not be interested in Sri Lanka when Sri Lankans themselves have lost faith in their own country. Mr Weerth said "Many Sri Lankan business people are investing in Bangladesh, so how can you convince us to invest here?"

He said that European countries disagreed with the Sri Lankan government on two grounds. “We do not believe in a military solution for the present ethnic conflict, but only in a political solution and no compromise on human rights. He said that but the war is popular and many political ideas are based on winning. Thus they cannot convince tax payers at home to give consistent support to uplift this country if they believe that democratic values do not continue to be shared.

He added that they were disappointed and sad at the misery of this country and said that the solutions were in the hands of Sri Lankans themselves. "All your partners are standing by your side, but we are in hibernation waiting for thing to develop as we will not interfere."

Sri Lanka do not exploit its potential resources and manpower as they should. “The manpower in Sri Lanka is extraordinary and they can do so much better Mr Weerth reiterated.

He said that the key to prosperity and development of Europe is due to the linkage of economics and politics. This model worked so well that countries soon wanted to work together in other areas. Cooperation steadily intensified. Today, the European Union has 27 member states, and a population of 500 million people. It accounts for a quarter of the world’s GNP and plays a constructive role on the world state.

Mr `Weerth said that unity is the key lesson that they have drawn from more than half a century. To be successful, you have to do certain things together. That was true in 1950. And it is even more true today at a time of rapid globalization. In Europe, we have achieved major successes. But there is also another side of the story. It is important to understand that there is great difference between the member states.

He said that conflict prevention cannot be looked at in isolation. Matters of conflict prevention and peacekeeping are inextricably tied to issues of entrenching peace and stability, good governance, the deepening of democracy and concrete efforts towards sustainable social and economic development.

The strengthening of democratic governance is not simply a matter for the state, but it is important for civil society in its NGO’s and organizations of the people and of course the private business to ensure that democracy is living reality and that political freedom is a right that is protected and asserted.

He pointed that wherever violent conflict exists, human poverty, income poverty and social exclusion are on the rise. Poverty and conflicts feed on each other and inevitably worsen the governance situation. Wars do cause enormous damages – physical, human, economic and social.

He said that Europe needs to do more than in the past to open up their markets especially to agricultural products and need to eliminate own agricultural subsidies. We cannot call on our Asian partners to open up their markets and liberalize their economies and at the same time keep our own markets closed to the products that you can produce better or at a lower price. Free access to the markets of OECD countries would mean for the developing countries an estimated USD 100 billion in additional revenues.

Those countries deserve more than a future as commodity suppliers. The debate over whether Sri Lanka stands to gain or lose from globalization remains academic as long as your products are denied fair access to OECD markets. The European Union must go this extra mile. But we need your cooperation. And this cooperation needs a stronger political focus.

To help where help is needed – that is not just a moral imperative. A politically stable and economically prosperous Sri Lanka is also in our own interest. Helping to create an environment that offers security, growing prosperity and a fair give and take between all sections of society is the best way to prevent the spread of instability and terror.

A real breakthrough in the fight against terrorism can only be achieve, however, if they tackle not just its symptoms but also its root causes. Factors such as poverty, inequality and lack of hope as well as disregard for cultural values can all make people susceptible to the credos of political fanatics who espouse violence in pursuit of their ends the most reliable way to put a stop to their activities is to give people real confidence in a better future.

- Asian Tribune -

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