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Mr Secretary General, Excellences, Mr Special Representative of the Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to brief the participants of this meeting on behalf of the European Union. It is a very timely meeting, at such a critical time for the future of democracy and peace in the country.
The upcoming elections provide a unique opportunity to firmly entrench the Central African Republic in its democratic path.
The last months have seen increased political tensions over the process. This is to be expected, but it reminds us that only a transparent, credible, peaceful, inclusive electoral process, favouring dialogue and consensus, respecting the Constitutional order and ensuring acceptable quality standards, can guarantee its credibility and set the basis for a brighter future for the people.
As you know, the EU is providing more than half of the budget for the preparation of the elections, as well expertise to strengthen the capacity of Central African institutions.
All political stakeholders – majority, opposition and civil society, should act responsibly and the authorities should double their efforts to ensure a credible electoral process in a constructive and open spirit and in close coordination with partners and donors, such as the EU.
In such a febrile context, we witness disinformation campaigns in the media with concern. Government and political actors should do everything to ensure transparency of the media.
The next steps will be even more crucial following the recent modification of the electoral law and will require careful preparation and attention. The EU stands ready to help in this respect.
Turning now to the peace and reconciliation process. Since the signature of the Political Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, important progress has been made. The Agreement remains the best way to secure peace and reconciliation in this country. But we have also seen the continued violations perpetrated by some armed groups. Dialogue among parties, re-engagement of both parties, Government and armed groups; revitalisation of the Agreement and in particular relaunching and if necessary reviewing the follow-up mechanisms seem to us more needed than never. The Agreement needs new impetus, but without compromising on the core of the Agreement: no impunity, meaning that those violating it should pay a price.
In this regard, I call on the Guarantors, as well as the Facilitators and the region to redouble efforts in support to an effective implementation and respect of the Agreement.
The EU will continue to be one of the strongest supporters of the Central-African authorities and population in their efforts towards peace and reconciliation, democracy and recovery. To that end, we are mobilizing all our instruments - political, humanitarian, cooperation development, security and crisis management, including through a new civilian CSDP mission - to accompany the Central African Republic on the path of state building, rule of law and realising its economic opportunities. A path where civil society, women and youth, need to be given a greater role.
In all these efforts, we are more than ever committed to closely cooperating and coordinating with the United Nations, the African Union and ECCAS, as well as with all partners involved, including in particular CAR neighbours. I would like at this occasion to pay tribute to the work of MINUSCA and of its leadership. The EU supports the recommendations of the Secretary General to extend its mandate for another year.
Thank you very much.