Window Of Opportunity Opens In Kashmir, Says EU

2 March 2009
The Hindu

Srinagar: Maintaining that the Kashmir issue needed a political resolution, the head of the European Union’s Troika Ambassadors delegation said on Monday that the recently held elections had opened a window of opportunity in Kashmir, which needed to be capitalised upon. In an exclusive interview to The Hindu here, Hynek Kmonicek, the Ambassador of Czech Republic to India, said the Kashmir problem remained complex and complicated. “There has been a large participation in the recently held elections but we cannot say that election is the solution. But it can open a window for a solution. We really believe that the new dynamic Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, will be able to capitalise on that popular support to deliver, especially on good governance and address basic problem such as unemployment.” Dr. Hynek Kmonicek, who heads a five-member EU delegation which is on a two-day visit to Kashmir, said the basic objective of the visit was to complement EU’s regular missions. “We have been coming here since 1994 and we come here and listen. This complex situation is important for the EU to understand.” Reviewing projects On the question of intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue, he said, “We are not here to intervene. We are here to get acquainted closely with the situation. We have EU-funded projects here and we will review the progress on them.” Human rights was a very important issue for them. “It is one of the priorities the Czech presidency is looking at. Such unfortunate incidents are on the decline, but it is not the end of the road.” “Let us hope that we see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. He emphasised that building communication infrastructure was a must. “Political solution is necessary at the end, but there is a long way to go. To me, it is crucial to sustain the optimism of elections and provide basic needs to the people.” The Ambassador said Pakistan had its own share of troubles. “There is big concern among the international community about Pakistan for various reasons,” he said. Dr. Hynek Kmonicek, accompanied by Lars Olof Lindgren (Sweden), Ian Dela Riva (Spain), Bruce Bourdon (France) and Jan Kreurer (Czech Republic), held a meeting with the Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission on Monday. They are also meeting Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, top Army commanders and members of civil society. Earlier, in Jammu, they met Governor N.N. Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.