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Lankan issue: EU parliament calls emergency debate

The European Parliament, which represents 27 countries, is to debate on Thursday what it calls violations of human rights and humanitarian laws in Sri Lanka.

The “emergency debate” has been sought by 50 members of the Green Party after the release of the report of the three-member UN Advisory Panel to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The Panel comprised Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Steven Ratner (United States).

Ravinatha Ariyasinha, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Brussels, confirmed the emergency debate on May 12. “We are already lobbying parties to ensure that the final resolution has the correct balance,” he told the Sunday Times on the telephone from Brussels yesterday.

This emergency debate has caused concern in the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo. Officials fear it would harden the positions of EU members against Sri Lanka on the UN Panel report. There is concern that the powerful European lobby would endorse the report for further investigation at an international level and thereby isolate Sri Lanka, leading to possible trade sanctions.

Also listed for debate on the same day are issues related to two other countries – Belarus and Azerbaijan. Diplomatic sources said yesterday that the debate would generate greater consciousness among the 27 members of the European Union on the findings of the UN Panel.

This emergency debate has become the major issue with the European Union since Sri Lanka lost the GSP plus trade preferences from the European Union in May last year.



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