I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Central and Eastern European Countries associated with the European Union Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, and the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, as well as the EFTA countries members of the EEA Iceland and Liechtenstein, align themselves with this statement.
Since several months, developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have inspired increasing hope. In his report of 8 June, the Secretary-General describes a situation not merely of obstacles and difficulties, but also of opportunities and positive trends. The European Union notes with satisfaction the Secretary-General’s conclusion that progress has been made in key areas since April, and his cautious optimism regarding the immediate future of the Lusaka peace process.
The European Union remains fully supportive of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, the consensual basis for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sustained advances should be ensured on all aspects of the agreement, in particular orderly withdrawal of foreign troops, the national dialogue in the DRC and the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation or resettlement of the armed groups. Continued progress depends, first and foremost, on the parties to the conflict. The role of the United Nations and the international community including the European Union, and the contribution they can make to peace and development in the region, is clearly defined by the actions of the parties themselves. We therefore urge all parties to honour fully and in earnest their commitments and comply unconditionally with their obligations, thus enabling further progress in the Lusaka peace process.
As for the role of the United Nations, important decisions are to be taken by this Council within the next couple of days on the future of MONUC. Taking into account the current situation and its both positive and troublesome characteristics, the European Union agrees with the Secretary-General that the momentum generated by the disengagement of forces and the withdrawals of foreign forces should not be lost. The European Union thus welcomes the proposal of the Secretary-General to extend the mandate of MONUC, and to deploy within the force level of 5,537 additional personnel for the functions envisaged for a transitional period, leading up to the third phase.
The European Union welcomes the co-operation extended to MONUC by the Government of the DRC and its allies, and the co-operation between MONUC and the RPA and the UPDF. However, the difficulties and delays caused by FLC and RCD are unacceptable. The European Union considers particularly serious the detainment of MONUC observers by FLC and the targeting of MONUC in disinformation campaigns. While welcoming that the disengagement and verification is near completion in three of the four sectors, we also note with concern that obstructions have occurred, in particular by the FLC. All parties should finalise their disengagement and respect the new defensive positions. International humanitarian law must be respected, also in areas from which troops have been disengaged.
The recent Security Council mission to the region emphasised that the Council expected to see steady, consistent progress and strict adherence by the parties to all agreements and timetables regarding the withdrawal of foreign forces and the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation or resettlement (DDRRR) of armed groups. The European Union fully endorses that position. As regards the DDRRR process, it should be based primarily on voluntary reintegration and repatriation in order to be effective. The international community may support such a voluntary process, but the primary responsibility for implementation lies with the parties themselves. In particular, the governments of Zimbabwe and the DRC should cease all support to such armed groups while Rwanda should honour its commitment with a view to repatriation and reintegration. The European Union recognises the need to differentiate between various categories of members of the armed groups, and to tackle urgently the question of groups of Rwandan origin. Furthermore, the demobilisation of child soldiers should be a top priority.
The humanitarian situation in the DRC and in the region remains an area of most serious concern, as reflected in all recent reports by the Secretary-General. In order for genuine improvement to be possible, all parties must guarantee secure, rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. While welcoming that access to vulnerable populations is improving, we note that the faltering security remains a constant threat to crucial humanitarian and rehabilitation efforts, as illustrated by the deplorable attack on six ICRC workers in April.
The difficult humanitarian conditions, which particularly affect women and children, must be given increased international attention and financial assistance. The European Commission has decided to provide 35 million Euro in humanitarian assistance and 120 million Euro to finance poverty alleviation and the promotion of human rights. The European Union remains willing to contribute further to the improvement of the humanitarian situation and the economic regeneration of the DRC.
Thank you, Mr. President.