Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Sri Lanka

Delivered in Plenary - 22nd October 2009

Mr President

As a representative of London, a city that has repeatedly been a target for terrorists in the past 40 years, I have a great deal of sympathy with Sri Lankans of all ethnicities. The relentless terrorist campaign waged by the Tamil Tigers severely blighted the development of that beautiful country.

President Rajapaksa came to power democratically, determined to defeat the LTTE, and his success should be congratulated by all of us who despise terrorism. The Government now has the responsibility of building a post-conflict society with liberty, justice and equality for all Sri Lankans. Returning the IDPs home and trying the war criminals must now be the Government’s priority.

While I concede that President Rajapaksa may have lost some international goodwill through some of his emergency actions in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, I am convinced that the best way forward is to guarantee the development of a secure and prosperous Sri Lanka and support its democratically-elected leader and Government. The EU must maintain the GSP+ trade agreements which, if removed, will directly destroy one million jobs and indirectly economically impact on 2.5 million innocent Sri Lankan citizens.