During the war the LTTE was able to influence the political leadership of many western states to be critical of the Government’s success on the war front Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.
Speaking at an event in Galle today, Rajapaksa said that the government had to face the challenge of resisting international pressure to stop the war.
“I would like to remind the audience of the last minute visits of the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom and France, as well as the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General to pressurize the Government to stop the Humanitarian Operation. As a result of its vast international network, its extremely effective propaganda machine, and the large number of expatriate Tamils in many powerful foreign capitals, the LTTE was able to influence the political leadership of many western states to be critical of the Government’s success on the warfront,” he said.
The Defence Secretary said that some countries had even placed restrictions on the sale of weapons to Sri Lanka and these issues had to be overcome through the skillful building up of diplomatic relationships with key regional allies as well as countries such as China and Russia.
“Without doubt, the most important country that had to be managed was India. Because of the political pressures in Tamil Nadu, the Sri Lankan situation has always been a very sensitive one in that country. In 1987, when the LTTE was on the brink of defeat during the Vadamarachchi Operation, India intervened and effectively forced the Government to stop its military campaign. In order to maintain the relationship with India and to prevent any such problem occurring this time around, the President went out of his way to keep New Delhi briefed on developments at all times. In addition, a special bilateral committee was set up at the highest level, including then Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President LalithWeeratunga and myself as Defence Secretary from the Sri Lankan side, and former National Security Advisor M. K. Narayan, then Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and then Defence Secretary Vijay Singh on the Indian side. This troika had continuous discussions and ensured that any sensitive issues were dealt with as soon as they arose,” he said.
He also said that in the long term, the primary challenge and responsibility of the Government is to restore stability to Sri Lanka.
“In this regard, ensuring that the problems that led to the conflict in the first place do not arise again is critically important. Keeping some degree of security measures in place is essential. At the same time, the Government was very keen to remove whatever restrictions had to be in place during the war so that the people could feel the benefit of peace as fast as possible,” he said. (Colombo Gazette)