(Mr. Secretary-general, President Clinton, Excellencies )
I would like to thank you personally for having organised this important event and allow me to express my sincere gratitude for having invited the EU to take an active part in today’s timely discussion on the situation in Haiti.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Iceland+ and Montenegro*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The year behind us proved to be an extremely challenging period for Haiti and its citizens; I dare say that it began with what could be considered the most terrible tragedy in Haiti’s history.
The daunting task of coping with the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake was rendered even more complex by the cholera epidemic, the effects of hurricane “Tomas”, the recent political deadlock triggered by a first electoral round marked by irregularities and fraud and several episodes of social unrest.
At the same time, 2010 also proved to be a year in which the international community, including the European Union, clearly demonstrated its determination to stand beside the Haitians in their time of need. The generous outpouring of aid, notably since the pledging conference in March of last year, has been a powerful message of our solidarity whilst numerous follow up events such as the Egmont Conference recently held in Brussels, clearly demonstrate that Haiti has not been forgotten since.
Our presence here today, testifies once again that we remain committed to helping the Haitian people re-establish STABILITY – Political and social STABILITY, which includes strengthening the rule of law.
In this context, allow me, Mr. President, to touch upon three crucial matters, which are closely interlinked:
First, Political stability, including peaceful political transition;
Second, Security, including the crucial role played by MINUSTAH; and
Third, Development, including the need to enhance our coordination mechanisms.
Political stability, peaceful transition, reconstruction and growth are tightly interlinked. Unfortunately, the electoral crisis has momentarily hampered progress. But we now have to stand ready to renew our collective recovery efforts in Haiti, under the primary responsibility of the Haitian people. These common efforts are also an essential condition to ensure a better future for Haitians and pave the ground for economic and social development as well as the promotion and protection of human rights.
In this sense, the second round of presidential and parliamentary elections that took place two weeks ago and announcement of its preliminary results on Monday was a key step in the advancement of democracy and political stability in Haiti. Despite the progress made, unfortunately participation of women still remains at a very low level.
We now encourage the national authorities to further intensify their work and call upon the political actors to play a constructive role so as to ensure that, despite the delays encountered, the electoral process can be completed in a timely, transparent and peaceful manner.
The establishment of a new and legitimate political leadership, able to respond to the aspirations of the Haitians, is an essential condition for intensifying the reconstruction and development efforts.
Security is the second key element that the Government of Haiti must deliver to its citizens.
Despite the continuing challenge of obtaining accurate statistical information in Haiti, the report of the Secretary-general clearly points to a steady increase in serious crime, including murders, sexual and gender based violence and episodes of drug trafficking, kidnapping and armed robbery.
The impact of the deteriorating security situation is being felt in particular by the most vulnerable members of Haiti’s society, including those directly affected by the displacement that followed last year’s earthquake. In this context, we must reiterate that women and children are particularly affected in many ways by the prevailing situation.
More broadly, security is one of the most important conditions for attracting foreign investment and the promotion of economic growth, which will be crucial to ensure poverty reduction and sustainable development.
Against this background, the capability of the Haitian National Police to maintain law and order all over the country still needs to be enhanced, as well as the broader Rule of Law system, including the Justice and Corrections sectors. We fully back the crucial role played thus far by MINUSTAH in this respect.
The support of MINUSTAH to the Haitian National Police is at the core of its mandate, and since 2004 the HNP has made significant progress and has increasingly gained the trust of the population.
Yet much remains to be accomplished, and the EU will continue to support the role of MINUSTAH in ensuring peace and security in Haiti until a full transfer of this responsibility to national actors can take place.
In this regard, we look forward to the next report of the Secretary-General which will provide a comprehensive assessment of the security challenges in Haiti.
Let me turn to my third point, namely development assistance.
In March of last year, the European Union, in a joint effort with its Member States, pledged more that 1.6 billion USD in aid to Haiti, on top of the 350 million that the EU had already contributed in humanitarian assistance.
From the outset, the European Union has been working intensively to fulfil this pledge and a high percentage of this amount has already been committed and disbursed.
EU cooperation proved to be crucial for the resumption of normal operations by the Haitian state administration and for securing priority expenditure, notably in social sectors through budgetary support.
But we stand ready to do more. The EU’s cooperation strategy in Haiti until 2013 is currently undergoing a joint programming exercise within its member states. The EU will continue to give special attention to budget support, decentralisation, infrastructure, health, rural development and education.
We recognise that, in order to maximize the impact of our collective response, we need to improve our coordination mechanisms and ensure a greater national ownership. The creation of the Haiti Interim Recovery Commission (IHRC) was a step in the right direction, aimed at facilitating coordination and promoting a strategic approach to reconstruction. While we commend the work done by the IHRC, there is room for improvement. Beyond the processing and approval of projects and programmes, more work needs to be done in the context of strategic and sector policy dialogue and planning.
We must also not lose sight of the fundamental objective of building capacity in the Haitian administration for the full transfer of responsibility for the reconstruction efforts to Haitian hands at the earliest possible date. Without national ownership, the quest for sustainable development is futile. The European Union is ready to reinforce its assistance in this respect.
Let me conclude by reaffirming the imperative need for a national consensus amongst the political actors in Haiti that clearly identifies reconstruction and development priorities.
It remains up to the Haitians themselves to lead the way beyond this difficult period.
The European Union looks forward to working hand in hand with the newly elected national authorities, as we continue to support the efforts of the Haitian people to build a stable and more prosperous future.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.