I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.
At the outset, allow me to congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the Council. I would also like to thank Ambassador De la Sablière for leading the Security Council mission and preparing the report that is before us today.
1. Regional approach/Great Lakes Conference
The visit of the Security Council mission to the region took place at a very appropriate moment, as it came only days after the Heads of State of the core countries of the Great Lakes Conference signed the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region. By signing the Declaration, they have committed themselves to jointly put an end to the endemic conflicts and persistent insecurity in the Great Lakes region through dialogue en confidence building measures.
The EU welcomes the outcome of the summit as a clear evidence of the preparedness of the countries of the region to move from confrontation to consultation and co-operation. It is now imperative that all signatories respect the principles they have agreed upon and start implementing them without delay. The EU acknowledges that it will be impossible to tackle all the problems of the region at once. Therefore, the inter-ministerial committee awaits the difficult but important task of setting clear priorities and sequences. The EU reiterates its readiness to continue its support to the conference, through the Group of Friends.
The EU is very concerned about reports concerning the military incursion by Rwandan armed forces into the DRC, which took place only days after the Dar-es-Salaam Summit was signed and the Security Council mission had left for New York. The threatening declarations made by Rwanda have as such a destabilising effect on the transition process in the DRC. The EU condemns any violation of the territorial integrity of the DRC. It calls upon the Rwandan Government to abide by the Declaration of Principles, to respect the sovereignty of the territory of the DRC and to withdraw its forces. The EU calls upon the Transitional Government in the DRC to react with restraint to avoid a military escalation. It calls upon both countries to resolve this crisis within existing mechanisms such as the Tripartite Commission and the Joint Verification Mechanism, in close co-operation with MONUC.
At the same time, the EU shares the view that the problem of DDRRR of the FDLR and ex-FAR/Interahamwe should be urgently addressed. Continued presence of ex-FAR/Interahamwe elements on DRC territory poses a threat first and foremost to the local population. The ensuing tensions risk undermining the Congolese peace process. The EU therefore calls on the Government of
the DRC to intensify its efforts for disarming and demobilising such elements with a view to their repatriation or resettlement. It also encourages MONUC to support the Government in whatever way it can. The imminent deployment of an additional brigade to the North Kivu will give additional security to the region and will increase MONUCs capacity to prevent spoilers, both from within and outside, from derailing the DRC peace process.
Every chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Peace and stability in the Great Lakes region will therefore remain elusive as long as one or more of the countries of the region has not been stabilised or reached a stage where the peace process is irreversible. The EU, like the Security Council mission, is therefore heartened by the progress that has been made in the transitional processes in both Burundi and the DRC. In both countries the focus is now on elections, to be held next year.
The situation in Burundi is particularly encouraging. The acceptance of the constitution by all parties is a major step forward to completing the transition period and the holding of elections, for which a clear calendar has been established. Voter registration is well underway. The EU welcomes the recent adoption of laws on the reform of the armed forces and the police and calls upon the Burundian authorities to adopt remaining key legislation, including the electoral code and the communal law, as soon as possible. Another encouraging development is the recent launch of the DDR process. However, continued support of the international community to the transitional process remains crucial for it to remain on track.
The EU supports the missions recommendation to reflect deeper on possible ways to effectively prevent spoilers like Agathon Rwasas FNL from undermining the peace process. Finally, the EU also agrees that in order to prevent conflict from recurring, Burundi needs international assistance in the area of SSR and DDR, and for reconstruction and development.
The EU is less optimistic about the progress in the DRC. Last August, the Secretary-General outlined the political strategy that he believed should be implemented to reduce the role of spoilers and build confidence in the transition. To support the transitional government in the implementation of the so called critical path, MONUC was reinforced and further expanded. In addition, the international community reiterated its willingness to assist the transitional government, which would be facilitated by more regular contacts between the espace presidentiel and the CIAT as well as through co-operation between the government and international actors in the three joint commissions, which should be established as soon as possible. However, the primary responsibility for implementing the core tasks of the transition rests with the transitional government.
Elections should be held in 2005; a failure to do so could destabilise the country. The EU is very concerned about the lack of progress in recent months in key areas, most notably legislation, DDR and SSR. As far as SSR is concerned, the training of a number of integrated brigades before the elections seems essential. The EU has supported and is planning to support the transitional government in virtually all of these areas. With regard to police, the EU has provided training for an Integrated Police Unit. A follow-up mission will guide the unit in the exercise of its new duties. Additional support to police reform, as well as to integration of the army, is currently being considered. The EU is one of the main contributors to the MDRP Trust Fund for DDR. With regard to elections, the
European Commission has pledged 80 million, while several EU Member States have also pledged significant contributions. The struggle against corruption is another important element of the transition. In this regard, the EU welcomes recent indications of a more forceful approach.
The transitional government needs international assistance, and the EU is willing to do its share. However, international assistance can not substitute political will and sustained commitment from the side of the transitional government. The government owes nothing less to its people, who are counting on their leaders to bring them the peace they so deeply deserve.
There is no peace without justice, and there is no justice without the rule of law. The recent history of both Burundi and the DRC is also a history of widespread human rights violations as well as one of impunity. This cycle needs to be broken as peace, democracy, good governance and sustainable development are unthinkable without respect for the rule of law. In conflict and post-conflict societies, there are additional challenges to the rule of law: at the very moment when the need for justice is greatest, the legal structures necessary to deliver such justice may well be absent.
The efforts at national level should, where necessary, be complemented at the international level, by co-operating with relevant international institutions, notably the International Criminal Court.
Thank you, Mr. President.