On behalf of the European Union I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Secretary General, for convening this meeting. It is a timely initiative, which reflects the gravity of the situation. Let me also welcome the presence of President Kabila and President Kagame. A sign of commitment to dialogue and to finding political solutions.
The EU is deeply concerned about developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The breadth of this crisis – with its political, military and humanitarian consequences – poses an enormous challenge for the security and stability of the whole Great Lakes region.
There are now nearly 2 million displaced people, fleeing the brutal violence perpetrated by different armed groups in eastern DRC. This situation is intolerable.
What is happening risks taking us back to the dreadful memories of terrible past human suffering. Progress achieved in recent years is being jeopardised.
I would like to seize the opportunity of the presence today of the President of Rwanda and the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to stress the importance of dialogue and cooperation to find a lasting political solution.
The future of a country cannot be dictated by rebel groups. This country has suffered from their disruptive action on its eastern territory already for too long. It has undermined the authority of the State, hampered economic and social development and challenged regional stability.
All militias should stop violence immediately and surrender their weapons. Protection of the population and access to humanitarian aid must be guaranteed. A democratic process should accompany and contribute to consolidate the political solution. Individuals who violated international law will be held accountable.
The government of Rwanda should ensure that all support to rebel groups from its territory ceases. The EU is very concerned about the findings of the report and is waiting for the conclusions of the UN Sanctions Committee in view of reviewing its own actions.
At the same time, the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo should address critical governance issues and speed up the security sector reform, in particular the reform of the army.
The EU is ready to continue providing assistance to the populations affected by this crisis. This year alone, the European Union and its Member States have contributed 100 million euro in humanitarian aid, and we call on all donors to devote more resources to those affected.
We will also maintain our active support to African and international initiatives aimed at forging a solution. We salute in particular the facilitation efforts of the International Conference on the Great Lake Region, the African Union and the UN.
The EU supports an active role for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Congo, MONUSCO. We note the ongoing work on the Neutral International Force and the proposals for increasing the effectiveness of MONUSCO. However, more troops will not solve the crisis on their own and additional funding is very limited. We must therefore continue working towards a political solution. The development of confidence building measures – as the Joint Border Verification Mechanism – are steps in the right direction.
Let me conclude stressing once more the need for Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to work together in finding a lasting solution to this crisis. It is your primary responsibility, Presidents, to ensure a sustainable peace in the region. The European Union stands ready to support your efforts. Agreed conclusions for this meeting would already be a positive step in the right direction.