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, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, as well as Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
First of all, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this open debate.
The EU commends the Security Council mission to Timor-Leste led by Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, and welcomes the comprehensive report on its findings. We believe the mission was successful in identifying the various unresolved challenges that Timor-Leste needs to address in order to achieve stability and prosperity. We are also pleased that the mission had the opportunity to hear the views of the main political interlocutors namely the President, Prime Minister, Government officials and opposition leaders, as well as representatives from civil society (including church and NGOs), UNMIT and other UN agencies on the ground.
We also appreciate the valuable work of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and in particular the Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Mr. Atul Khare.
The EU welcomes the progress achieved in recent months. The successfully conducted presidential and parliamentary elections held in April, May and June 2007 with high voter participation were a significant step in the process of strengthening democratic institutions in Timor-Leste.
However, as the report of the mission to Timor-Leste acknowledges, some of the root causes of the 2006 crisis and its consequences have not been solved yet. The EU recognizes critical political, security, socio-economic and humanitarian challenges that need to be tackled.
At the political level, the EU encourages the current government and the opposition leaders to pursue the political dialogue in order to rebuild mutual confidence and achieve national reconciliation in Timor-Leste.
Furthermore, it is essential to solve the Petitioners issue in a peaceful manner and to bring to justice the group of former military who deserted the National Defense Force (F-FDTL).
The EU also emphasizes the need to restore confidence in the national defense and security institutions as well as in the judicial system and encourages the government to implement the security sector reform programme.
The humanitarian situation is another element of concern for the EU as it threatens the political and social stability of Timor-Leste. We call on the Government to create with highest priority the conditions for the return, resettlement and reintegration of the internally displaced persons in their local communities.
Additionally, the socio-economic challenges like poverty and unemployment, particularly among youth, remain some of the major causes of instability throughout the country.
As the report highlighted, the European Union recognizes that the future of the country lies in the hands of the people and Government of Timor-Leste. Indeed, the efforts carried out in the country will only be successful if the Timorese take measures and find the solutions to their own challenges.
Nonetheless, the Government needs continued and sustained assistance to overcome the capacity shortcomings and governance difficulties.
The European Union reiterates that the involvement of the UN is vital for the countrys further stabilization and for helping the Government addressing the many unresolved questions identified during the Security Council mission to Timor-Leste. In this context, we support the continued UN engagement in Timor-Leste and a renewal of the UNMIT mandate beyond February 2008.
The European Union and its member states remain fully committed to the consolidation of peace and democracy in Timor-Leste. As an example, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, visited Timor-Leste last month and announced an additional 63-million-Euro aid package to assist projects related to institutional capacity building including support to the judiciary and the parliament, health and rural development. The opening of an EC delegation in Dili in 2008 also shows the EU continued support of the people of Timor-Leste.
The EU is willing to continue to cooperate closely with the United Nations and the bilateral and multilateral donors on the ground in order to further consolidate peace and democracy in Timor-Leste and to help the country achieving self-reliance.
Lastly, I would like to express that the European Union is confident that the Government of Timor-Leste, with the support of the UN and the international community, will be able to overcome the numerous challenges that it still faces.
Thank you for your attention.
*Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.