Summary: EU Presidency Statement- UN Security Council: The Situation in Timor-Leste (12 February 2007: New York)
Statement on behalf of the European Union, by H.E. Mr. Thomas Matussek, Permanent Representative of Germany, on the Situation in Timor-Leste in the Security Council, New York.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and the EFTA-countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
Let me first of all express my gratitude to Prime Minister Dr. José Ramos Horta for his impressive statement today.
On behalf of the European Union, I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his latest report on the situation in Timor-Leste. I think it is a good basis for further discussion of the mandate for the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
The European Union acknowledges the important work done by the Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Mr. Atul Khare, and the staff of UNMIT on the ground as well as the efforts of the Timorese people to build a viable, just and democratic state.
As the Secretary-General pointed out in his report, the overall situation in Timor-Leste has improved over the six months since UNMIT was established. However, the security situation remains volatile, gang activity continues and there is increasing discontent among internally displaced Timorese.
One of the key elements in the peace process is the necessity of rebuilding confidence among the various actors. This is an essential step towards national reconciliation. UNMIT has begun to assist the Timorese people in this delicate task by supporting meetings, public events and dialogue programmes, which include addressing the events of the past. It is important that the forthcoming elections unite the Timorese people and do not create additional divisions. All Timorese should be aware of their own responsibility to promote national reconciliation, not only in abstract, but also in concrete terms. The forthcoming presidential and legislative elections should contribute to the national unity and democratic stability in Timor Leste. The EU endorses the recommendations of the Independent Electoral Certification Team to the Timorese authorities in order to implement key measures to ensure full credibility of the electoral process.
It is important to note that reconciliation and viable peace can only be achieved in a secure environment. In this context, the EU welcomes the signing of a security agreement on 26 January by the UN, Timor-Leste and Australia. The agreement sets up a Trilateral Coordination Body that will allow better coordination on security issues. This will be a particularly important element in the lead-up to the elections.
Last month, the European Commission sent an Election Exploratory Mission to Timor-Leste. It will shortly submit its conclusions in view of a likely EU Election Observation Mission.
The European Union also welcomes the initiative to support the electoral process with the deployment of an additional UN police unit in support of the National Police of Timor-Leste. UNMIT’s established police units have - under adverse circumstances - helped to restore and maintain public order. This is a prerequisite if we are to implement other important elements of the mandate.
Capacity-building and reform of the Timorese National Police remain essential to creating an effective police force capable of addressing the security challenges. UNMIT will have an important role to play in this process. Nonetheless, screening for readmission of PNTL officers will need to accelerate in order to meet security needs during the elections.
As we all know, justice and accountability remain key factors for lasting peace. The EU remains concerned about the lack of progress in the judicial system and the fight against impunity. The overall capacity of the judicial system to deal with the number of arrests is still inadequate. Reports of intimidation of witnesses damage confidence in the rule of law amongst the Timorese people.
Earlier this month, the chairman of the Commission of Truth and Friendship announced that the Commission was ready to commence the truth-seeking phase of its investigations. Seventy people suspected of human rights violations during the 1999 independence referendum events will be invited to share information from February to June 2007. We hope the Commission will prove to be an effective mechanism for dealing with the past and for building bridges into the future.
The EU supports the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the extension of the mandate for twelve months with a particular focus on maintaining public security before, during and after the elections.
Much has been achieved, much remains to be done. Most importantly, the Timorese themselves have to campaign for national reconciliation. This responsibility unites all political parties, the Catholic church and civil society. It is an essential task for the Timorese people to undertake. The International Community can only encourage and support this process.
The European Union and its member states have for years been major development partners with Timor-Leste. Since 1999, the EU Member States and the European Community have disbursed more than 600 million euros to the population of Timor-Leste. EC support - amounting so far to 212 million euros - currently focuses on urgent response to humanitarian and peace-building needs, notably to support inclusive political dialogue and quick impact youth employment schemes, as well as on longer-term needs such as institution building and rural development. This assistance will take on a long term perspective now that Timor-Leste benefits from the European Development Fund. The nomination of a special envoy and the upgrading of the EC office in Dili into a full- fledged delegation further demonstrate the EU´s willingness to strengthen its cooperation with Timor-Leste.
I would like to conclude by expressing our appreciation for the efforts of the Government of Timor-Leste and the determination of the Timorese people to build a viable, just and democratic state. The European Union is committed to remaining a reliable partner in assisting their efforts to achieve long-term stability and sustainable economic development, in close coordination with other bilateral and multilateral donors.
Thank you, Mr. President.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.