15.05.2009 - Sri Lanka : Excerpts from the Interview given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to french-speaking journalists
Ministerial Meetings of the United Nations Security Council on the Middle East and Sri Lanka, Interview given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to french-speaking journalists (Excerpts)
Q. - On Sri Lanka, are you beginning to be a bit frustrated by the Security Council and does the fact that only eight countries took part in your meeting show that even if you want to force the Security Council to take up the issue, you perhaps wouldn’t have the necessary votes ?
THE MINISTER - It isn’t a matter of frustration, of pathology, it isn’t a personal matter. For months - and in fact for 26 years - we’ve faced a war in a country which is now reaching what’s called its acme : in front of our eyes thousands of people - no one knows the figure, 20,000, 50,000 - inside a pocket [of land], certainly blocked by the Tamil Tigers, are dying because, despite the assurances and repeated promises, there’s heavy weaponry bombing - again this weekend - in this pocket, right on the coast.
We asked some very simple things of the government - whom do you want us to ask ? -, Sri Lanka’s democratic elected government. We asked first for the United Nations agencies, the voluntary humanitarian workers engaged in specific projects, to have access to the zone : this hasn’t been given. We asked to be able to help these refugees, these displaced people in the camps, to give them food and a limited amount of medicines. We also asked if we could help the government in any necessary demining process. And above all we asked to be able to evacuate these people and for a halt to the heavy weaponry bombing.
I know there have been 26 years of war, I know the Tamuls are a terrorist organization, we know all that. It’s not a reason to throw in the towel. This isn’t just France’s problem, but Europe’s problem - at any rate as you’ve seen that of the three European representatives on the Security Council - and we are going to use every possible means to influence, through - this is moreover the only means we’ve got - the international community to get this massacre stopped. And don’t be surprised that we’re talking to the Sri Lankan government. We aren’t talking to the Tamil Tigers, alas, otherwise we’d have tried a long time ago. But those who have tried, and especially Norway, didn’t get satisfactory results. We are continuing, we are persisting and we’ll go on doing so./.