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Speech by the Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action at the Donors' Conference in Geneva on 11 January 2005

Date of Speech : 11-01-2005

Place : Geneva

Speaker : Jean-Louis Schiltz

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

In my capacity as Luxembourg Minister and Representative of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, I have been visiting the disaster-stricken region since 1 January.

In this same capacity, I have the honour of speaking here today on behalf of the European Union and its 25 Member States.

I would like first and foremost to extend the heartfelt compassion of the European Union to the countries and communities devastated by the tidal wave in Asia.

Our solidarity will not weaken. 

I am pleased to inform you that the Council of the European Union has confirmed that the overall response of the European Union and its Member States amounts to a total of around EUR 1.5 billion, or USD 2 billion, in public relief aid. This is an effort that is without precedent in the European Union.

By the same token, our people have undertaken to make an exceptional financial commitment. Therefore, I should like to pay a lasting tribute to the unshakeable solidarity of all Europeans.

The Member States of the European Union, as well as the European Commission, will announce individually the respective contributions they have pledged to make as part of the flash appeal.

If I may speak briefly on behalf of Luxembourg, I wish to announce the decision taken by my Government to contribute EUR 3 million, or around USD 4 million, to today’s appeal fund.

Mr President,

As the Luxembourg Prime Minister and President of the European Council Jean-Claude Juncker stated in Jakarta, we must, in view of the extent of the catastrophe and devastation, undertake to maintain a long-term effort to help the disaster-stricken countries and communities during the successive phases of emergency aid, reconstruction and rehabilitation. The conclusions of the Council of Ministers of the European Union of last Friday bear witness to our determination to respond, both now and over the long term.

Since the tidal wave struck, the European Union has sought to underline the key role played by the United Nations, particularly with regard to coordinating the efforts deployed.

However, we should not limit ourselves to providing relief aid, when the international community has at its disposal the technological and financial means to at least partly avert disasters caused by such natural catastrophes or their disastrous consequences. Since last Friday, therefore, the European Union has been seeking to honour the commitment it made in Jakarta by helping introduce a pre-warning system in the Indian Ocean.

Mr President,

We are all aware that a crisis of this magnitude will require close and careful monitoring in the months and years to come, with regard not only to the commitments made but also to specific action over the medium and long term. We must ensure that the funds made available are used to the long-term benefit of the people concerned, particularly those most in need. For its part, the European Union is already preparing to fulfil this task. The follow-up will, however, feature on the agenda of the next Councils of Ministers of the European Union.

This page was last modified on : 13-01-2005

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