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 and Serbia, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
First and foremost, let me extend our warm welcome to President José Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste. The European Union highly appreciates his courage and his dedication to securing a better future for the people of Timor-Leste. It is a pleasure to hold todays debate with your presence, Mr. President, especially when recalling the terrible events of 11 February 2008.
I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive briefing, the Japanese Presidency of the Security Council for convening this open debate and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Atul Khare for the tireless work of UNMIT on the ground, which is highly appreciated by the international community.
The European Union has been following the recent developments in Timor-Leste with great interest. We commend the Government and people of Timor-Leste for their efforts to achieve long-term stability and ensure sustainable development in all spheres of public life in the country. Since 1999, the European Union has provided about 327 million euro in development and humanitarian assistance. We are committed to continuing our support in crucial public-sector areas. For the period of 2008 2013 the European Union is providing support of about 81 million euro in areas such as institutional capacity building, rural development, assistance to the health sector, food security. Furthermore, under the Instrument for Stability, the European Commission is providing support to Timor-Leste in security sector reform, social reintegration of IDPs and employment generation. In these areas the EU works closely with UNDP, IOM and ILO.
The EU commends recent positive developments of the security situation in Timor-Leste and acknowledges the significant progress achieved in addressing the challenges of the F-FDTL petitioners and the returns of internally displaced persons. In this respect, the closure of a large number of IDP camps in Dili and Baucau and the process of reintegration are encouraging signs. The EU has taken note of them with appreciation. At the same time, the EU encourages the Government of Timor-Leste to continue its efforts and to focus on long-term solutions to these challenges.
The active engagement of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) and the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which contributed considerably to internal security, brings our attention further to the question of resumption of responsibilities by the PNTL. In this regard, the EU welcomes the possibility to start this process on 27 March 2009 as stated in the Secretary-Generals report. Additionally, the EU is looking forward to receiving a document defining the specific roles of UNMIT police and the UNMIT-PNTL engagement as mentioned in the Secretary Generals report, which is to be submitted before gradually handing over the responsibilities to PNTL.
The EU expresses its full support to the role performed by UNMIT, especially the United Nations Police contingent and to other relevant actors implementing the SSR plan. The EU underlines the need to intensify the training activities, including in the area of human rights, of the PNTL and supports the development of a comprehensive and coherent concept for the whole security sector, which should be elaborated in a coordinated, inclusive and transparent manner and with direct involvement of all relevant governmental and non-governmental actors. The recent creation of the SSR Team in the DPKOs Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions and the attention that the SSR Team and the UN Task Force on SSR have been paying to addressing the needs of Timor-Leste in the area of the SSR are very welcome and encouraging developments. It cannot be overemphasised that all this would not make sense without direct and active involvement of Timor-Leste and without the SSR processes being truly nationally owned.
Along the lines of the Secretary-Generals report, the EU remains concerned about the situation of the judiciary. Further support in the backlog of judicial cases is necessary in order to help mitigate the difficult situation. On its part, the EU will continue to assist Timor-Leste in promoting its justice sector and reinforcing the rule of law, while an identification mission has already been sent to the country. This identification mission is also mandated to identify specific support to the National Parliament, as a way to support political and democratic dialogue in the country.
The EU is also concerned about the socio-economic situation in Timor-Leste despite positive results as far as the overall economic growth is concerned, specifically over the data of the World Bank about the increase in poverty rates reaching about 50% of the population and the high unemployment rates which could potentially lead to renewed instability. It is, therefore, the EUs aim to support labour intensive work programmes, mainly through the implementation of the Rural Development Programme. The EU also encourages Timor-Leste to make use of the Petroleum Fund for future investment projects and to stimulate the non-oil part of the economy by creating new job opportunities and basic infrastructure development.
The EU appreciates that the Secretary-General, in his report, presented the medium-term strategy for UNMIT with illustrative benchmarks for the four mandated priority areas review and reform of the security sector, strengthening of the rule of law, economic and social development, and promotion of a culture of democratic governance dialogue as requested by Security Council resolution 1802 (2008).
The international community is eagerly awaiting the revised national development plan of the Government focusing on poverty reduction as earmarked under the 2008 national priorities signalling Government ownership of the process and giving donors the longer term orientation with the possibility of alignment according to the Accra Agenda for Action.
Bearing in mind the persisting political, security and economic challenges at hand, the EU fully supports the extension of UNMITs mandate for another 12 months at the current composition and strength, as recommended in the Secretary-Generals report. The EU is convinced that such an extension will help ensuring continuity in further stabilisation of the country.
Last but not least, the EU will follow, with great interest, the 2009 local elections in Timor-Leste as another important milestone of democratic processes in the country and also as a significant indicator of progress achieved so far in the area of institutional capacity building and democratic governance, which are both so crucial for ensuring stability and good governance in the country.
In conclusion, I would like to reassure President Ramos-Horta and the Timorese people about EUs unwavering commitment to assisting their country in achieving further positive results in their countrys stabilization and reconstruction and in addressing remaining challenges.
Thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process