Summary: August 30, 2001: Statement by H.E. Jean De Ruyt on behalf of the European Union. The Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (New York)
Allow me to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia) and the associated countries of Cyprus, Malta and Turkey align themselves with this statement.
Although the cease-fire has held for several months in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), developments on the ground have been partly disappointing since our July debate. There is, however, a glimmer of hope to be seen in the implementation of the Lusaka agreements: the success of the preparatory meeting on the inter-Congolese dialogue recently held in Gaborone.
The European Union (EU) would highlight once again the importance of the inter-Congolese dialogue, which provides a real key to re-establishment of the rule of law, democracy and national sovereignty in the Congo. The fact that the meeting was attended by President Joseph Kabila, political movements and representatives of civil society shows the Congolese people's resolve to take charge of their own future and work together for the establishment of a new political order. The success of the meeting also reflects on preparatory efforts by the facilitator, Sir Ketumile Masire, and his team. We hope the spirit of Gaborone will give impetus to the peace process.
Admittedly, Gaborone is only a first step. It is important that this now be followed up in practice and that the dialogue proper, which will start on 15 October in Addis Ababa, go hand in hand and stimulate other aspects of the Lusaka agreements, and be entered into as soon as possible. The parties have displayed a constructive frame of mind. They need to maintain it and show political courage and creativity if this historic opportunity for national reconciliation is to be taken. The international community must stand by the Congolese people throughout the process. The European Union and its Member States have already contributed to facilitation work and are prepared to continue their support.
We do not have any similar progress to welcome on Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Repatriation or Resettlement (DDRRR). While the exercise is indeed complex, it remains one of the foundation stones for resolving the conflict in the DRC. The European Union is convinced that a solution to this delicate problem would be within reach if a sincere, courageous dialogue between the DRC and Rwanda were built up. In spite of some direct contacts between President Kabila and President Kagame, we have the impression that an atmosphere of mistrust continues to prevail between the two countries. We would ask the Secretary-General, on his visit, to call upon President Kabila and President Kagame to step up dialogue and seek mutually acceptable solutions. In the meantime it is of the utmost importance that negative forces should not receive any material or logistic support.
It is equally important for the overall settlement of the Congolese issue that President Kabila and President Buyoya discuss the remaining presence of the Burundi rebels in the DRC.
The European Union would point out that the international community's action on DDRRR needs to be coordinated, in which it is for the United Nations to take the lead. MONUC is already authorized to assist DDRRR within the limits of its resources. As the situation develops, the mission's mandate, configuration and strength will have to be adjusted in order for it to provide crucial support in the implementation of a precise, detailed plan for the purpose.
For the implementation of the Lusaka agreements, innovative arrangements and formats have been established for consultation and cooperation between the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity and the countries of the region. The joint meeting between the Security Council and the Lusaka Political Committee in February 2001 proved productive. We gather that a similar meeting is planned in the near future. The EU welcomes this and hopes that cooperation in New York will be matched on the ground by creative initiatives such as the co-location of JMC and MONUC headquarters in Kinshasa.
The European Union would repeat once again that only a political solution can bring peace to the Congo and lay the foundations for the reconstruction and economic recovery of the region. Eschewing the military option will make possible an increase in aid and international cooperation. The European Union declared itself ready to draw upon sizeable resources. Such assistance, which could amount to as much as EUR 120 million, will be made available in the light of tangible progress in the peace process and in the inter-Congolese dialogue.
As we concluded here together a month ago, following Ambassador Morjane's report, the peace process has not reached a point of no return. The intervening month has proved particularly disappointing in this regard. Suffice it to mention the situation in Kisangani, which has still not been demilitarized, in spite of the Council's resolutions, or the incomplete state of disengagement and certain problems encountered by MONUC, such as the unacceptable attack on one of its helicopters in eastern Congo. We would again call on the parties to honor in full the commitments voluntarily entered into by them in signing the Lusaka agreement and the other agreements that followed.
The international community - and the Security Council in particular - must continue to keep a close watch on developments on the ground, seize upon any openings as they arise and step in when the situation threatens to get out of hand. The Secretary-General's visit comes as a significant sign of his personal involvement and of the attention, which the UN is continuing to pay to the conflict in the Great Lakes region. The European Union wishes the Secretary-General every success in that important mission. For its part, following bilateral visits in August 2001 by the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hubert Védrine, and the United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, the Union will be sending to the region in September 2001 its current President, the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louis Michel, and the EU High Representative, Javier Solana. That visit will reaffirm the EU's strong commitment to the peace process and its solidarity with the region's long-suffering people.
I thank you Mr. President.