President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched a most surprising attack on me in a speech he made in Kurunegala on November 15th.
I will not speculate as to what motivates such an attack, coming as it does at the start of the election campaign. Since I have no intention whatsoever of letting myself be dragged into the upcoming elections, I will thus only restate obvious facts well known to everyone – President Rajapaksa included:
– Norway as the third, facilitating party to the Sri Lankan peace process financed neither the LTTE in general nor its military operations in particular.
– Norway made economic resources available to the LTTE peace secretariat in order to assist them in engaging more fully with the ongoing peace process. This included a radio transmitter. This, moreover, was done with the full knowledge of the Government of Sri Lanka under different leaders, including during the period when Mahinda Rajapaksa was prime minister. As with all our peace efforts in Sri Lanka, transparency with respect to the government in Colombo was total.
– In the years before Mahinda Rajapaksa became President I met him dozens of times, and kept him fully informed of all the main elements of the peace process. As a government minister, and later as Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa was always fully supportive of our peace aims, and both encouraged Norway to continue and asked us to keep him informed of developments. We were and are grateful for that fruitful cooperation.
– After the 2005 presidential election President Rajapaksa publicly asked Norway to continue in its role as facilitator of the peace process, and invited me personally to visit Sri Lanka. Thereafter President Rajapaksa made a number of political requests that he asked me to convey on his behalf to LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. All these messages were duly communicated on to the LTTE leadership, and the killings ceased for a period. At the time the president also expressed his gratitude for this both to Norway and to myself personally.
– When we last met in 2010, President Rajapaksa as a recognition of Norway´s peace efforts invited me to come back to Sri Lanka, visit the country and experience the peace.
Further details on all these issues will be made public in spring 2015 in a book detailing the Norwegian peace engagement in Sri Lanka authored by UK journalist and author Mark Salter, in co-operation with Vidar Helgesen and myself.
Regarding the enquiry initiated by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014, I consider it the duty of everyone with relevant information – Sri Lankans and foreigners alike – to provide the best possible knowledge – and in full honesty – regarding war crimes allegedly committed by both the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka. The United Nations can only function as the leading global organization if we all assist in implementing important decisions taken both by the Secretary General and the UN’s subsidiary bodies.
Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee