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, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this statement.
Let me begin by expressing our appreciation for having been invited to participate in todays session on behalf of the European Union. I would like to thank Mr. Edmond Mullet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for his briefing.
The European military operation EUFOR in Chad and CAR was a success story and proof of exemplary cooperation between the EU and the UN, from the launching of the operation to its successful handover on 15 March 2009. The EU provided a bridging military arrangement in the region pending the deployment of a UN force for a period of one year.
It is my honour to briefly introduce the report of the European Union requested by the SC Resolution 1778 of 25 September 2007. This is the second of the two reports on the operations and on fulfillment of the EUFOR mandate requested by the Security Council and covers the final six-month period from its full operating capability on 15 September 2008 to the mandate handover to MINURCAT on 15 March 2009. As Council members will remember, the first one had been delivered by SG/HR Javier Solana on 24 September 2008.
Throughout its mandate, EUFOR has made a tangible contribution towards protecting civilians in danger and, in particular, refugees and displaced persons who have been profoundly affected by the crisis in the region.
During the reporting period, it conducted over 2300 short range patrols in the areas of the main IDP sites and refugee camps, and over 260 long range patrols in order to affirm its presence in other areas as well. EUFOR activities also included active engagement with the humanitarian actors. The force integrated into its conduct of the operation human rights issues and the protection of women and children in armed conflicts, consistent with the relevant Security Council resolutions. Beyond its mandate, EUFOR provided medical care for the local population. It also facilitated the removal of unexploded ordnance devices contributing to the safety of the local population, and extracted humanitarian NGO personnel from Ouandja in CAR in November 2008.
EUFOR has, throughout its mandate, acted in an impartial, neutral and independent manner, and was recognized as such by all actors.
The EUFOR´s engagement with MINURCAT was highly significant from the beginning of the operation and was further intensified as the handover approached. EUFOR has assisted MINURCAT with facilitation and development of capabilities to train and deploy the UN trained Chadian police Détachement Intégré de Sécurite (DIS). EUFOR established infrastructures, including six spacious and fully fledged military compounds in theatre, that were transferred to Chad and onwards to MINURCAT at the end of its mandate, thus setting the ground for the deployment of the UN follow-on force.
EUFOR, EU members and other EUFOR TCCs contributed in many other ways to the transfer of authority to MINURCAT that took place on 15 March 2009, including through early planning, support to MINURCAT, and re-hatting of an important part of the EUFOR contingents, which made up most of MINURCATs strength at the date of the transfer of authority.
The EU welcomes the holding of the inclusive political dialogue in CAR, and stresses the need to keep this new momentum. The EU is concerned about the recent spate of violence in the north of the country – all groups concerned must refrain from the use of violence. In Chad, where the fragile situation contributed also to slow down progress in the overall political agenda, the EU continues to actively encourage the political process in the framework of the 13 August 2007 Agreement in the context of preparations for the legislative elections. The EU also accords great importance to the amelioration of the relations between Sudan and Chad in order to reduce tension in the region and to contribute to a solution to the conflicts. In this regard, we hope that the next meeting of the Dakar Contact Group will take place shortly. The EU is concerned that the expulsion of a number of humanitarian organizations from Darfur, and the subsequent reduced capacity to deliver humanitarian aid, could raise the prospective of a large number of new refugees crossing the border into Chad.
The EU would like to welcome the close cooperation with the UN (at the Secretariat and field level) throughout the mandate of the European operation. In order to preserve the positive outcomes of EUFOR, the EU would like to encourage the Secretariat and new TCCs to sustain their efforts towards a quick achievement of MINURCATs full operational capability.
I would like to assure you that the EU will remain active at a political and diplomatic level in Chad and in CAR. Although EUFORs mandate formally ended, the EU will remain an active player in the region. Approximately 2000 of the soldiers who participated in the European operation now serve under the MINURCAT banner, which further underlines European support to UN peacekeeping operations.
Thank you, Mr. President.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilization and Association Process.