The European Union welcomed the decision by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to scrap the emergency regulations imposed during the decades-long ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka by the end of this month.
Issuing a statement on Friday, Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission said the announcement by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament on Thursday, 25 August that his government does not intend to prolong further the Emergency Regulations in force for many years in Sri Lanka was a welcome move.
President Rajapaksa on Thursday addressing the parliament said the state of emergency will be removed and the proposal to remove the state of emergency will be presented to parliament as there is no need to administer the government under the state of emergency.
Many nations including the United States, Britain, Australia and India welcomed the President's decision.
"This development is a significant step on Sri Lanka's path towards a return to normality following decades of conflict. The proposal to lift the Emergency Regulations would remove important restrictions on the exercise of civil and political rights which are the cornerstone of a democratic society," Ashton said in her statement.
Ashton said that the European Union has consistently held the view that the elimination of the Emergency Regulations is a necessary step to ensure a democratic and stable future for Sri Lanka.
The EU further initiatives by the Sri Lankan Government in that direction, the official added.
The European Union in August 2010 suspended the GSP+ tariff concession for Sri Lanka that provided tax free access to European markets for the country's products, citing Sri Lanka's failure to meet human rights conventions relevant for benefits under the scheme.