Switzerland is backing a South African post-Apartheid reconciliation initiative to bring the parties involved in Sri Lanka’s conflict to the negotiating table. Since 2011 South Africa and civil society groups have been leading a multi-pronged peace initiative aimed at restarting Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Sri Lankan government negotiations and supporting potential reconciliation efforts following the end of 30 years of war.
Sri Lankan and South African officials visited each other on several occasions last year and a TNA delegation flew to Africa for further contacts earlier this month. Eager to help find a durable peace solution, Switzerland is lending financial and political support to the South African initiative.
Observers say potentially the South African experience has much to teach post-war Sri Lanka, but the initiative comes with risks attached.
An estimated 42,000 people of Sri Lankan origin in Switzerland. Between 90 and 95 per cent of them are Tamils. They represent the largest migrant group from outside Europe