I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The UN Secretary General has recently offered us in his report “Our Common Agenda” his idea of a new agenda for peace, which, among others, should include measures to increase support for regional initiatives that can fill critical gaps in the global peace and security architecture; and put women and girls at the centre of security policy. The EU continuously supports the translation of gender-related global commitments on disarmament and security into regional, national and local practices.
The EU has a long history of support for actions that address threats to international and regional security and promote disarmament. We cooperate closely with the UN as well as other partners to find solutions, which would underpin efforts to bring and maintain peace and security. Preventing and tackling security risks linked to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation remains on the EU’s radar screen.
The European Union remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to supporting its people. The denial of women and girls’ rights is of particular concern. The actions of the Taliban directed against women and girls and the violation of their rights are in absolute contradiction with the expectations of the international community as laid in UN Security Council’s resolution 2593. Free and equal access to health, employment and education are essential, as well as freedom of movement. The EU expects meaningful political, social and economic leadership and participation of women in the Afghan society. The EU support will depend on the respect of the international legal framework and norms on human rights including on women’s and girls’ rights.
The situation in Afghanistan is a major challenge for the international community as a whole. It could have a profound negative impact on regional stability, human rights, the fight against terrorism, trafficking in drugs, in arms and in human beings, organised crime, and on efforts addressing forced displacement, preventing illegal migration and its possible instrumentalisation for hybrid threats.
In order to support the Afghan population and to pursue EU objectives, the EU stresses the need for strong coordination in engaging with relevant international partners on Afghanistan. The UN remains an indispensable partner and a key actor on the ground. The EU and its Member States welcome UN Security Council Resolution 2593 (2021), which sends a clear, strong and united message on the international community’s expectations and demands that must be transformed into concrete actions on a long-term basis as regards the situation in Afghanistan.
We reiterate that all efforts must be pursued to ensure that the Taliban cease all direct and indirect ties with international terrorism and to prevent Afghanistan from serving as a base for hosting, financing or exporting terrorism to other countries.
As a matter of high priority, the EU will initiate a regional political platform of cooperation with Afghanistan’s direct neighbours. This platform will provide the opportunity to enhance cooperation and the EU’s support for the prevention of negative spill-over effects in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood as well as for economic resilience and regional economic cooperation, and for humanitarian and protection needs. It will build on existing relations between the EU and these countries, and on other initiatives.
The EU strongly condemns the clear violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by acts of aggression by the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine and its illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which we will not recognise. The large build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally-annexed Crimea in April this year has further increased tensions in the region. We reaffirm our unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
We reiterate our strong support for the Minsk agreements and the efforts of both the Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict, in full respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We call on the sides to engage constructively in these discussions.
We regret Russia’s decision, contrary to the spirit of the Minsk Agreements, to not allow for a further extension on the Border Observation Mission to Gukovo and Donetsk. With its closure it is even more important that Special Monitoring Mission should have safe, secure, unconditional und unimpeded access to the entire territory of Ukraine, including the border areas, in accordance with its mandate.
The EU also reiterates its firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders, which is being violated by Russia, and underlines its deep concern about the continuing Russian military and security-related presence, infrastructure reinforcements, ongoing ‘borderisation’ and violations of freedom of movement along the Administrative Boundary Line with Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The EU calls on Russia to fulfil its obligations under the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and its subsequent implementing measures of 8 September 2008. We also urge Russia to ensure the proper follow-up of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which concluded that after 12 August 2008 Russia, exercising effective control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, violated several provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Russia’s confrontational policy towards the European Union and continued military build-up in our neighbourhood, including at the Ukrainian borders and in Belarus, carry a risk to security and stability in Europe. We continue to call on Moscow to comply fully with its transparency commitments and to enhance confidence-building and security measures on its military activities in order to avoid generating uncertainty in its military intentions and increase the security of its neighbours. The EU condemns the Belarusian regime’s instrumentalisation of migrants to advance political goals. This practice is unacceptable and must stop immediately.
With regard to Syria, the EU also condemns the persistent, widespread, systematic and serious violations and abuses of human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, in particular by the Syrian regime and its allies. We call on all parties to the conflict, especially the regime, to depoliticise the delivery of humanitarian aid, abide by their international humanitarian law and human rights obligations and permanently cease indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling.
Syria has seen new fighting in the past months, with more than 20 000 people displaced in the North West, and at least 40 000 in the South West after the offensive over Dara’a. In the South-West of Syria, the security situation remains tense, with a fragile ceasefire in Dara’a after the offensive led by the regime. The ongoing fighting and hostilities underline once more the need to step up the efforts to reach a peaceful political solution and the EU reiterates its support for the UN Special Envoy in this regard. Only a viable, credible and inclusive political solution that respects the freedom and the dignity of all Syrian people in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2254 can bring about a lasting solution to the conflict. We reiterate that all perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity must be held accountable.
Yemen faces the world's largest humanitarian crisis, with close to 70% of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. Conflict across Yemen continues to endanger civilians, trigger displacement and damage infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. Imports of food, fuel and medicines are restricted, leading to temporary shortages and high prices while humanitarian and development aid continues to face serious impediments.
The EU calls on the parties to engage seriously and without preconditions with the UN led efforts for an end to the fighting and the start of a comprehensive and inclusive political process. Only peace can bring the suffering of the Yemeni people to an end. The EU is committed to continuing its assistance to Yemen. We call on the parties to the conflict to grant safe, rapid and unrestricted humanitarian access and allow the flow of basic commodities such as food and fuel. The EU has allocated an additional 119 million EUR for the humanitarian crisis in the country thus bringing the total EU support to Yemen to 209 million EUR in 2021.
The risks that instability in Libya poses are all too evident with the number of weapons in circulation and the potential of its vast uncontrolled areas to become safe havens for terrorism and organised crime. The political divisions and the fragmentation of Libya are still defining a complicated scenario. The continued presence of foreign forces and mercenaries is a further factor of destabilization. Violence can still erupt at any time and escalate rapidly.
A shared vision for the future of the country, a common sense of purpose, and a spirit of compromise among Libyans cannot be generated by international pressure, or replaced by procedural mechanisms. It will be primarily up to the Libyan leaders themselves to rise to the challenge for their country.
The immediate priority on Libya is to encourage the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections on the 24th of December 2021, in accordance with the Libyan political dialogue forum (LPDF) roadmap endorsed by UN Security Council resolution 2570. The elections are the only avenue to stabilize the country. The EU is also strongly committed to the full withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries, as stipulated by the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement, to restore Libya’s sovereignty.
In order to consolidate peace and stability, the EU continues its naval operation Irini as an important contribution to the implementation of the UN Security Council imposed arms embargo. We could further envisage assistance in the security and defence domain within a UN framework of stabilisation.
The illicit trade and diversion of arms and ammunition into and inside Africa remains a matter of concern as it fuels civil wars and enables violent groups to launch attacks against governments, communities, humanitarian aid workers and UN peacekeeping personnel.
The EU has been fully engaged, through its Council Decision 2019/1298 and the financial contribution of almost 1 mil. EUR, in raising awareness of stakeholders in Africa, China and the Union on how the illicit flow of arms, particularly small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition, to unauthorised end users contributes significantly towards exacerbating insecurity and violence in various parts of Africa, thereby undermining social cohesion, public security, socio-economic development and the effective functioning of state institutions. The direct beneficiaries of the projects will be policy community actors in Africa, China and the Union, including non-governmental organisations, think tanks, industry representatives, government officials in charge of conventional arms control, and parliamentarians. The indirect beneficiaries will be the population, communities, groups and individuals in Africa who are adversely affected by the proliferation of illicit arms and ammunition in the continent.
Regional partnerships are in a crux of common endeavour to address regional security issues and concerns and a fundamental factor for the development of regional dialogue that can facilitate confronting issues of common interests. The EU strongly supports the establishment of regional and sub-regional confidence- and security-building measures as an important tool to build trust and enhance transparency, avoid conflict and maintain stability. We continue being committed to reinforcing the existing strategic partnerships between the European Union and Latin America as well as the League of Arab States and East-Asia.
In this vein, the EU has been developing projects, through its Council Decision 2019/2108, with Latin American countries in support of strengthening biological safety and security in this region in line with the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004). The cooperation aims to improve the legislative and regulatory basis of biosafety and biosecurity in these countries. In this vein, the EU supports raising awareness among relevant sectors, including through education and training, and the enforcement of effective domestic measures to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons and their means of delivery.
I thank you, Mr. Chair
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.