The peace process and the peace talks

In the resolution of a protracted conflict, it may sometimes be necessary to have visible breakthroughs in order to keep morale high, both of the negotiators themselves and also the interested public. Virtually all rounds of the peace talks that commenced with the first one in Sattahip, Thailand a year ago, had such moments of brilliance. These moments were accentuated by the flamboyance of the LTTE´s chief negotiator at those talks, Dr Anton Balasingham, who had a sure grasp of the Tamil cause and the LTTE´s history.

Whether it was the redefinition of the LTTE´s concept of Tamil Eelam in Sattahip in September, the Oslo declaration on federalism in December, or the acceptance of a human rights framework in Hakone in February, every round of the peace talks brought with it news of a positive breakthrough that the international media could carry to all parts of the world. But with the apparent withdrawal of Dr Balasingham from the scene, and his replacement by less autonomous negotiators, it is unlikely that visible breakthroughs of the same kind will take place at future talks.

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Himal Southasian