Reconciliation process in Sri Lanka remains unfinished


german-vpThe reconciliation process in Sri Lanka remains unfinished and hugely controversial, a high-ranking German official concluding a three-day visit to Colombo said yesterday, after wide-ranging discussions with the Government, the Opposition and civil society representatives.

Vice President of the German Parliament and MP Wolfgang Thierse said he had heard completely different views on Sri Lanka’s post-conflict reconciliation process from the Opposition, Tamil parties and human rights activists. “They feel the Tamil community is still disadvantaged. Efforts towards reconciliation are considered insufficient,” he told the Daily FT in an exclusive interview last evening.

Thierse said the Government held a completely opposing view. “They say huge efforts have been made to improve infrastructure and that economic growth has been stronger in the north east than anywhere else in the country,” the German official said.

“So it shows that this is a hugely controversial issue and that reconciliation has not nearly been brought to a successful conclusion,” he added.
Thierse was born in East Germany and was the first East German President of the German Parliament following reunification in 1989.

Drawing from the German experience, Thierse said truth-seeking about the past was an important way to achieve internal unity. “If there has been so much hostility and so many victims, in such a situation it is better to seek the truth and find ways to compensate,” he said. Thierse, who is one of four German Vice Presidents of Parliament, arrived in Colombo on Saturday (6) for a visit that focused on inter-faith dialogue and reconciliation.

He met with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakoddy, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran for discussions during his three-day visit to Sri Lanka.

The German official also held discussions with human rights activists including Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Nimalka Fernando. Thierse travelled on Galle on Saturday for discussions with representatives from different religious communities. The German Vice President of Parliament also held discussions with Southern Province Governor Kumari Balasuriya during his visit down south.