Summary: November 11, 2002: Statement by Ole E. Moesby, Minister, Deputy Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, on behalf of the European Union. The situation in Central America: procedures for the establishment of a firm and lasting peace and progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development. FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY - PLENARY: Item 38 (New York)
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the associated countries - Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, as well as the EFTA country of the European Economic Area - Iceland, align themselves with this statement.
Let me at first express the gratitude of the European Union to the Secretary General for the excellent and insightful report on the situation in Central America, which provides a solid foundation for today's discussion on this agenda item.
The European Union and Central America form a strong partnership based on fundamental principles and shared hopes for a better future. The European Union wishes to continue to develop this partnership in order to establish progress and lasting peace in the region - founded on democratic principles, peace, freedom and development.
Much has changed in Central America in the almost 20 years since we discussed this agenda item for the first time. Democracy has prevailed. Conflicts have been brought to an end. Progress and development have been allowed to settle and prosper in the region. However, despite the important steps taken, the risk of serious setbacks in the democratic process continues to lure. We still see the long shadows of the internal conflicts, the difficulties of transition to a system of democratic pluralism and the challenges of equitable and sustainable development. These obstacles remain on the path to lasting peace, freedom and economic prosperity in the region.
Central America must face the difficult problems in the region in order to consolidate the substantial progress made so far. Reforms - and courage to implement them - are necessary to fight social inequalities, unemployment and the poverty. Otherwise they will be allowed to feed political tension and conflict.
The European Union has always been committed to the development of Central America. Through our Framework Co-operation Agreement and Community Action Plan for the Reconstruction of Central America this commitment has materialised into concrete actions and activities. Our efforts focus on regional integration and sectors such as health, education and environmental protection.
Since 1984 the political cooperation between the European Union and Central America has been institutionalised in the San José Dialogue. Ministers of our two regions met at the Eighteenth Ministerial Conference in the Dialogue held in Madrid in May this year. In Madrid the ministers confirmed their commitment to the consolidation of democratic systems, the establishment of closer economic and trade relations and the promotion of human development. They also reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.
Based on these commitments we agreed to bring our bi-regional dialogue towards a new stage of more dynamic and substantial relations. A decision, which we believe will be beneficial both to the European Union and Central America.
The European Union has in 2002 with the greatest concern seen a deterioration of the human rights situation in Guatemala. Of particular worry is the serious increase in the threats and assaults directed against human rights defenders. We condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms. The Guatemalan authorities have a clear obligation to protect those who are targeted and bring the responsible to justice. The widespread impunity in Guatemala must come to an end.
The UN Verification Mission in Guatemala has performed remarkably well in consolidating the achievements of the Peace Agreement. The European Union takes note of the Secretary General's intention to initiate consultations with interested Member States regarding the request of the Guatemalan government for an extension of MINUGUA's mandate into 2004. The EU underlines the importance of MINUGUA completing its tasks in the human rights field before gradually handing over its mandate to independent national authorities of Guatemala - and while bearing in mind the political calendar of Guatemala in 2003. We believe that the Ombudsman Institution could have an important role to play, when MINUGUA's tasks are handed over. We intend to provide the necessary support to this end.
The Government and the Parliament of Guatemala must fulfil their responsibilities in accordance with the peace process if the democratic process is to succeed. This includes a full implementation of the Fiscal Pact, ensuring transparency in public spending and intensifying the fight against corruption. Guatemala must initiate land reform, ensure respect of the rights of the indigenous population and establish civilian control over State intelligence agencies. These steps are crucial for revitalising the peace process. Just as the Guatemalan people, the EU has hopes for a future peaceful and prosperous Guatemala.
Mr. President. We believe that political and economic integration is of key importance to the future development of Central America. A successful regional integration will lead to a successful integration into the world economy as a whole. The European Union therefore wholeheartedly support the important work by the Central American Integration System. Drug trafficking and increasing crime rates as well as migration of labour within the region are examples of regional challenges, which the Central American countries will have to face in unity to overcome.
In the context of political integration the European Union is delighted to note the progress made to find a just, equitable and definitive resolution to the border dispute between Belize and Guatemala. We hope that the settlement of the dispute will open a new era of understanding, cooperation and friendship between the two countries and be a source of inspiration for other countries in the region. The European Union recognise the importance played by the OAS to facilitate the agreement between Belize and Guatemala and reiterate our support to the initiatives of the OAS to settle the remaining disputes in the region. These initiatives deserve our full encouragement.
Mr. President. Nicaragua is changing and important steps are taken to ensure the citizens of Nicaragua a better and safer future. We fully support the efforts of President Bolaños to raise ethical standards in public life, to fight the scourge of corruption and to modernise and rationalise the Nicaraguan economy.
The reforms advocated by the Government are essential in order to strengthen the rule of law and the democratic institutions. We - the European Union - accordingly urge other state institutions in Nicaragua to collaborate with President Bolaños in his efforts to meet the challenges ahead.
This year we have joined the people of El Salvador in their celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Peace Agreements signed in Chapultepec. The European Union wish to congratulate El Salvador on this important anniversary on the agreements, which put an end to the 12 tragic years of conflict in El Salvador. The agreement set a guiding example on how to reach peaceful political solutions to the benefit of the people and the peace and stability of Central America.
The European Union also wishes to commend El Salvador for the appointment of a new Ombudsman - or in point of fact an Ombudswoman - to the Office of the National Ombudsman. The Ombudsman institution has a key role to play in protecting the rights of vulnerable and marginalized section of the population, such as the poor and the indigenous people. The European Union therefore applauds the work of the Ombudsman Institutions in Central America - they are indispensable watchdogs of democracy.
The European Union welcomes and supports the efforts of the new Government of Honduras, under President Manduro, to address the problems related to poverty, corruption and social disintegration, which challenges the maturing democracy of Honduras. However, the European Union is concerned about the ongoing violence as well as the recent and worrying increase in human rights violations. The EU underscores the need for stronger government measures to protect and safeguard the rule of law, in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law. Also the high number of killings of children and youth is a source of great concern for the EU. The EU calls for further efforts of the Government of Honduras, under President Manduro, to address the disturbing situation.
The situation in Central America is one, which we in the European Union keeps close in mind. Our partnership is one of mutual respect and we wish to strengthen our future political and economic cooperation. Strengthening democracy, fighting social inequalities, promoting efficient government and protecting human rights go hand in hand with peace, sustainable development and the creation of favourable conditions for markets and trade. These are ambitions, which we share with the people of Central America.
Thank you, Mr. President.