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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > March 2005 > Statement on behalf of the EU on the report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Guinea- Bissau at the Economic and Social Council of the UN
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Statement on behalf of the EU on the report of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Guinea- Bissau at the Economic and Social Council of the UN

Date of Speech : 03-03-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg at the United Nations

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mister President,

1. I have the honor to take the floor on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria, Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia , the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.

2. The European Union expresses its appreciation to the Council for giving us the opportunity to address the situation in Guinea-Bissau today. We commend the constructive engagement of ECOSOC in Guinea-Bissau through the work of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group and we congratulate the chairman of the Group, H.E. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, Permanent Representative of South Africa, for the work undertaken by him and the members of the Group.

Mister President,

3. Since we last met to consider the work of the Ad Hoc Group, the encouraging developments in Guinea-Bissau have experienced a severe setback. After the military mutiny in October last year, the world community became once again aware of the fragility of transition to democracy and development in this country. Guinea-Bissau needs continued international support. The report of the Group clearly points out that Guinea-Bissau is in a crucial situation and faces serious security, economic and social problems. According to the report, these are potential structural causes of conflict, responsible for the persistent fragility of the country’s democratic institutions. Improving the socio-economic conditions and the security situation of Guinea-Bissau is therefore critical.

4. The EU has long held the view that security, governance and development are inextricably linked. The United Nations play a central role in the transition process in Guinea-Bissau and the Ad Hoc Group is a good example of the importance of interaction between the Security Council and ECOSOC, the different secretariats, such as DPA, DESA and UNDP, as well as with the Bretton Woods Institutions

5. The UN should continue to work in partnership with the Government of Guinea-Bissau to address longer-term sustainable development as well as governance issues, as a way to prevent a slide-back into conflict. We are convinced that the Ad Hoc Group continues to have an important role to play in assisting Guinea-Bissau and in encouraging the international community to remain engaged. The EU therefore agrees with an extension of the mandate of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Guinea-Bissau until the substantive session of ECOSOC in July 2005. At that moment ECOSOC should be in a position to discuss the necessity of continued activities by the Ad Hoc Group, taking into account actual developments in Guinea Bissau.

6. The report of the Ad Hoc Group stresses that among the reasons for the military mutiny in October were poor working conditions and corruption in the army. The mutiny clearly demonstrates the urgency for undertaking a security sector reform. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed immediately after the mutiny between the military high command and representatives of the soldiers, so that the conflict could be brought to an end. The European Union takes note of the signature of the Memorandum and underlines that the Government of Guinea Bissau and national authorities must remain committed to the promotion of the rule of law and to the fight against impunity, including when considering ways of implementing the Memorandum.

Mister President,

7. The European Union welcomes Interim-President Pereira Rosa’s commitment to hold presidential elections in May 2005. In the light of the recent adoption of Security Council resolution 1580, we welcome the activities of the UN Peace building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau as well as the assistance that UNDP will provide before and during these elections. The European Commission is preparing a programme to assist with the presidential elections. The successful holding of the presidential elections is an important signal of the commitment of the country to peace and democracy and it demonstrates the country’s readiness to focus on development.

8. The EU commends the constructive role that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) play in Guinea-Bissau. The fact that both organizations have established local offices in Bissau, shows that they remain continuously engaged in helping the country to consolidate the democratic process after last year’s turmoil. The European Union shares the Ad Hoc Groups recommendation that CPLP, ECOWAS, the UN system and the African Union should continue to coordinate their efforts to consolidate the democratic process and bring stability to the country. The regional dimension of the situation can not be overlooked

Mister President,

9. The EU welcomes the decision by UNDP to extend the mandate of the Emergency Economic Management Fund until June 2005. The Fund allows to address the most urgent needs of the population and to finance essential recurrent budgetary expenditures in key sectors. It also helps to promote transparency and accountability in the provision of emergency assistance. The extension allows the international community to assist the Government to meet its emergency obligations and to maintain a stable and sound environment in the period leading up to the Presidential elections. We share the recommendation contained in the report that generous and urgent responses to that Fund are required. Member states of the European Union are important contributors to the Fund and of development assistance to Guinea-Bissau.

Mister President,

10. The report of the Ad Hoc Group acknowledges that there are signs of progress in Guinea-Bissau. The Group noted the improvements made in economic and financial management. The IMF has acknowledged in its assessment of the current situation that the Ministry of Economy and Finance continues to make good progress on restoring central fiscal control.  Its budget has been approved by the Parliament. The Treasury Committee, which scrutinizes revenues and expenditures, continues to operate well and the preparations for the 2005 budget took place on schedule, for the first time in many years. It is also important to report that the 2004-2005 school-year started in a normal manner also for the first time in several years.

11. These signs of progress underline the willingness of the Government in meeting the basic needs of the people. However, Guinea-Bissau still depends on external financial aid. At this time many salaries cannot be paid by the Government itself. This is why the Donor’s Round Table, scheduled for December last year, but postponed due to the events of 6 October, should take place as soon as possible. In this regard, the EU welcomes the holding in Lisbon, on 11 February 2005, of the Meeting of Guinea-Bissau’s Partners to prepare for the Round Table Conference.

12. The European Union and its Member States are considering several means to address the most urgent financial needs of Guinea-Bissau. First of all, the European Commission is trying to find very short-term solutions to help Guinea-Bissau to cope with its needs in the coming weeks and months in order to avoid any new troubles before the presidential elections. The European Commission is also considering the possibility of reallocating to the country all or part of the budgetary support, that could not be paid at the end of 2004. As far as the utilization of the funds, that could be reallocated is concerned, the Commission needs advice and propositions from Guinea-Bissau to consider this way of proceeding. Furthermore, it is obvious that this operation will only be useful if structural reforms are undertaken. In the meanwhile, the European Union has started the preparation of another budgetary support program, that can be submitted to the decisional authorities and become operational as soon as the country will again be eligible for budgetary support following an agreement with the Bretton Woods Institutions. The European Union recognizes the positive reports of the international financial institutions, in particular the IMF, on current developments. The European Commission is also preparing the allocation of 1 million euros for the Government to face recent devastation by locusts.

Mister President,

13. The international partnership approach advocated by the Ad Hoc Advisory Group should remain our guide as we endeavor to assist Guinea-Bissau to move to a more stable and prosperous future. The European Union will continue to play its part in this perspective.

14. Since the establishment of the Ad Hoc Groups, there have been considerable discussions in the UN on the issue of postconflict peacebuilding. In this regard, the High Level Panel’s recommendation to create a Peacebuilding Commission resonates strongly with the European Union’s determination to address the institutional gap identified on so many occasions between the end of armed violence and the return to development activities in a secure environment.

I thank you, Mister President.

This page was last modified on : 07-03-2005

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