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, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Ukraine align themselves with this declaration.
First of all, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this debate.
I would like to thank USG Mr. Guéhenno for his briefing as well as a frank assessment of the situation. The European Union highly appreciates the valuable work of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor Leste (UNMIT) and in particular the SRSG, Mr. Atul Khare.
The European Union follows the situation in Timor-Leste with deep concern. The EU firmly condemns the assassination attempt on Timor-Leste’s President José Ramos-Horta and the attack on the convoy of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. These actions only strengthen the EU’s firm determination to support Timor-Leste’s democratically elected leaders, institutions and its sustainable development in order to protect its future. There can be no doubt that the perpetrators of the attacks on 11th February aimed at the core of the legitimate institutions of Timor-Leste and sought to create a highly volatile security situation which would endanger the achievements that Timor-Leste has made since its independence. It is encouraging and therefore a sign of progress in Timor-Lestes post-conflict transition that the Government, the Parliament and major political parties, including the opposition leadership, responded appropriately to this crisis and fulfilled their constitutional obligations. It is vital that Government and opposition stay in close dialogue and that all Timorese set aside any differences and work together to address the challenges the country faces, and to create a stable and prosperous future for all the people of Timor-Leste.
The situation further underlines the importance of the continued supporting role performed by the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, and the United Nations Police contingent in particular. The EU also commends the efforts of the International Stabilization Force, including its swift action to provide emergency treatment to President Ramos-Horta.
As the Secretary General’s report underlines, some progress has been observed (in terms of a functioning Parliament and other state institutions) but many critical challenges remain as a number of the root causes of the May 2006 crisis have not been fully addressed. These include political divisions; weak institutions (particularly the security forces); and widespread poverty and unemployment, which is especially high among the youth, as well as the key issue of the IDPs. The Secretary General positively mentions in his report the role the international community has played in supporting Timor-Leste. For its part, the EU is determined to continue its active support to Timor Leste in facing those critical challenges, notably through European Community assistance of over 200 million euros of ongoing commitments. The imminent upgrade of our presence in Dili through a fully fledged EC Delegation is another sign of the EUs determination.
The EU supports in particular the continued work on a review of the future role and the needs of the security sector, and given the sector importance for long term stability encourage the Government, in close cooperation with UNMIT and relevant donors to implement the Security Sector Reform plan.
The EU stresses the importance of ongoing efforts to reach accountability and justice for the events of 1999 and April through May 2006, and calls upon the Government of Timor Leste to implement the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry Report.
The EU fully supports the extension of UNMITs mandate for a further 12 months, as recommended in the Secretary-Generals report. Such an extension would help ensuring continuity in stabilizing the country further.
While Timor-Lestes transition continues on the right path, the situation remains fragile and volatile if specific challenges are left unaddressed. There are immediate challenges to face: bringing the perpetrators of the 11 February attacks to justice; resolving the petitioners issue; ensuring reconciliation, accountability and justice for the victims of past violence; notably for the events of 1999 and the crisis of 2006 and alleviating the situation faced by Internally Displaced Persons.
There are longer-term challenges: for the Timorese leadership to agree on a shared vision of the way ahead; to build capacity of Timorese governance institutions; including budget performance, poverty alleviation and jobs creation.
Ultimately, success in Timor-Leste is for the Timor-Leste people to achieve. The EU, along with the UN and other international partners, stands ready to assist the Timorese government and its people in the critical challenges they face in building the capacity of State institutions, in order to further consolidate peace and democracy in Timor-Leste.
*Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process