I have the honor 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, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
Let me begin by thanking Mr. Ould Abdallah, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for his comprehensive briefing. I would also like to welcome H.E. Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and thank him for his contribution to todays debate.
During the last two months, the Djibouti peace process generated a new scenario for Somalia with opportunities for an inclusive political solution. The EU welcomes the expansion of the transitional parliament, the election of President Sheik Sharif Ahmed, followed by the appointment of the Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke and his Cabinet.
The Djibouti peace process created a powerful political momentum for an inclusive political settlement that brings the potential of stabilizing the whole country. The EU encourages President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke to continue their efforts in order to achieve a cessation of hostilities and create an inclusive peace process involving all parties to the conflict. Such a process must also give a voice to women. The EU welcomes the intention of the President to reach out to those groups that remain opposed to the Djibouti process.
The EU looks forward to working with the President, the enlarged Transitional Federal Parliament and the Government of National Unity in their endeavors and will continue to support the political process as it will now take on challenges and opportunities to further consolidate reconciliation, to restore peace for all the Somali people and to reconstruct the country.
Despite positive development at the political level, the situation on the ground remains extremely volatile. Security constraints continue to hamper humanitarian operations across Somalia and have led to a wave of attacks on humanitarian workers, peacekeepers and human rights defenders with the civilian population carrying the brunt of the casualties.. The EU acknowledges that the support of the international community of the Somali joint security forces and of the Somali Police Service is key.
In this context, the EU condemns the attacks on AMISOM of 22 February, leading to the death of 11 Burundian peacekeepers and injuries to others, and attacks against humanitarian workers.1
The humanitarian situation remains critical; more than 3 million people in Somalia still need humanitarian assistance. Violence and prolonged drought and various armed insurgents cause massive displacement, completely disrupt economic activities and limit humanitarian access. The acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia remain a source of real concern for the Somali population, and in particular for the millions who depend from the assistance transferred to Somalia by sea by the World Food Program, but are also a reflection of the dire economic situation and lawlessness in Somalia.
The EU welcomes the SG recommendations contained in his comprehensive report on the situation in Somalia. The UNSC has expressed in Resolution 1863 its intent to establish a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia as a follow-on force to AMISOM, subject to its further decision by 1 June 2009. In any case, in the upcoming months AMISOM, as well as Somali security institutions, will continue to play an important role in ensuring security, stability, law and order, and in supporting political process and facilitating humanitarian activities. This is why both the reinforcement of AMISOM and the establishment of an effective Somali security sector should be supported, as widely as possible, by the international community. In this regard, the EU supports the requests contained in SC Res. 1863 to provide a United Nations logistical support package to support AMISOM and to establish a trust fund.
Through the Joint Strategy Paper 2008-2013, the EU continues to ensure medium-long term assistance to Somalia. Priority is given to promoting a peaceful and secure environment, human rights, the democratic processes and institution building. The European Communitys support program for the period 2008-13 amounts to 215 million EUR, having as priority sectors of good governance and security (including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration), education, economic development and support to livelihoods.
With regard to the support of AMISOM, the European Commission has committed, so far, a total of 40 million EUR2. Recognizing the need for immediate actions in favor of the Somali security sector, financial support from the European Commission and EU member states to the civilian Somali police force will also continue, through the UNDP under its Rule of Law and Security program and/or through other new channels, as the African Union/AMISOM.3
In February, the AU requested the EU to financially support the immediate and short term needs of the AMISOM police component. The European Commission is, in principle, open to contribute through the African Peace Facility.
The European Unions direct engagement in the fight against piracy started in September 2008 when it completed the actions launched by some European Members States since November 2007 and contributed to the implementation of Resolutions 1814 and 1816 on combatting piracy off the Somali coast by the military coordination action (EU NAVCO). This action continued until 8 December 2008, when it was replaced by the naval operation ATALANTA (ESDP mission EU NAVFOR) with an initial mandate of one-year. In accordance with the provisions of Resolution 1846, ATALANTA focuses on three primary tasks; first, the protection of World Food Programme shipping providing assistance to Somalis dependent on humanitarian assistance; secondly, the escort of some of the most vulnerable vessels in the area of responsibility. And, finally, to the utmost extent possible, the deterrence and repression of acts of piracy through surveillance and patrolling in the maritime areas where the pirates have proved to be most active. Suppressing piracy off the coast of Somalia can only be achieved by addressing the root causes of the problem, which are the instability and the lack of rule of law and good governance, and by assisting the development of the capacities of the State of Somalia.
The operation currently has a strength of some 1,000 personnel from 12 Member States. The naval force currently comprises 5 frigates (provided by France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Italy), helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft were made available by France and Spain. One more Spanish warship is expected to join the operation soon, as well as three Swedish ships in May. In August, Norway will deploy a frigate within the EU naval force and in the second semester of 2009 Dutch and Belgian frigates will reinforce the naval force. Other contributors such as Croatia, Ukraine or Switzerland are also considering possible contributions to the operation ATALANTA. The EU operation is commanded by a British Admiral from a multinational headquarters in Northwood, UK. This headquarters is also the location for the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa, a joint enterprise between the EU military operation and the shipping industry, which is helping to ensure the most effective interaction with the industry and the widest application of agreed best practice, thus minimizing risk.
The EU operation is effectively fighting piracy together with other countries which have deployed their naval units in the Gulf of Aden and also work with the Combined Task Force 151 operating in the area, as well as regional countries engaged in fighting piracy.
The Secretary General and EU High Representative, Javier Solana, assured in his letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, that the European Union is ready, through its naval operation ATALANTA, to contribute, within its means and capabilities, to the protection at sea of the United Nations vessels delivering the logistical support package to AMISOM. In this context, it is very important for the European Union to continue to have an operational contact point in the Secretariat in New York, in addition to UNPOS focal point in Nairobi.
It is important that the international response to piracy off the coasts of Somalia be accompanied by continued efforts and a longer-term strategy aiming to bring peace, stability and recovery to Somalia and its people.
The international community should continue to support the political process in order to help the people of Somalia to achieve durable peace and stability. The engagement of the international community should be complemented by the efforts of Somalis themselves, who are ultimately responsible for the achievement of full national reconciliation. The EU, together with other members of the international community, stands ready to continue assisting Somalia. The EU is, inter alia, currently working on a comprehensive and coherent approach towards the Horn of Africa, including the regional dimension of the situation in Somalia.
Thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
1 Over the past 12 months nine humanitarian workers have been killed, with the most recent cases of the murders of two World Food Programme (WFP) staff in January 2009 and one just last Wednesday. The EU also condemns the numerous attacks against international and Somali humanitarian workers, most recently the kidnapping of four UN staff in Wajjid this week.
2 This amount comprises 20 million EUR provided through African Peace Facility in 2008, and 15 million EUR through African Peace Facility in 2007, and another 5 million EUR from the Instrument for Stability in 2007.
3 The European Commission has also been contributing through the Instrument for Stability (4 million EUR) to an interim support package for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions.