EU urges Sri Lanka to offer ‘substantive devolution’

BRUSSELS, Jan 7, 2008 (AFP) – The European Union on Monday called on the Sri Lankan government to offer “substantive devolution” to Tamil rebels as fierce fighting, renewed since Colombo scrapped a ceasefire, claimed more victims. The Slovenian EU presidency voiced deep regret at the Sri Lankan government’s decision to end the truce with the rebel Tamil Tigers, saying the decision further exacerbates an already violent situation.

“The EU calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to come forward with a substantive devolution offer around which negotiations can start, as soon as possible,” the presidency said in a statement.

“For an arrangement to serve as a feasible basis for negotiations, it needs to go beyond past offers and the EU urges both parties to work towards a solution that would bring a peaceful and lasting resolution to the conflict.”

The Sri Lankan government’s decision to end the 2002 truce “and the current military campaign further deteriorate the country’s already difficult situation, including the humanitarian and human rights situation,” it said.

“Without the ceasefire agreement, prospects of negotiating a lasting, peaceful solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka are narrowed further. The EU particul