8 February 2011 The European Union (EU) today reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to effective multilateralism with a strong United Nations at the core.
“Regional organisations are building blocks for global governance, with a dual responsibility –first, a responsibility to enhance security, development and human rights in their own region, and second, to support UN efforts to promote these goals around the world,” the 27-member Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, told the Security Council.
Addressing the 15-member body as part of its periodic review of cooperation between the UN and regional organizations, she highlighted the many convergences of ideals and collaboration in work between the EU and the world body.
Citing the EU’s participation with the UN, Russia and the United States in the Quartet, which seeks a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict based on Israel and Palestine living side by side as sovereign nations in peace and security, Ms. Ashton stressed that Europe is at the forefront of providing budgetary support and assistance on security to the Palestinian Authority to lay the foundations of a future Palestinian State.
On Gaza, which is under Israeli blockade, she reiterated calls, also made by the UN, for unconditional opening of crossings while addressing Israeli legitimate security needs.
“This Council knows well the great needs of the people of Gaza. The European Union is fully committed to support them. I have proposed a comprehensive package of EU support for the Gaza crossings, focusing on infrastructure, equipment and training,” she said.
Turning to demonstrations in North Africa and the wider Middle East demanding political participation, fundamental freedoms, social justice and economic development, Ms. Ashton delivered a message that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made frequently in recent weeks.
“Our position is clear: the democratic aspirations of citizens must be met through dialogue, genuine political reform, and free and fair elections that are well-prepared,” she said.
Addressing concerns in the wider world, she praised the political leadership that the UN has shown in the peace process in South Sudan, which culminated in last month’s vote for independence.
“We now have to stay focused so that the region doesn’t slip back into the violence that has marred it for decades,” she said. “The European Union contributed to the referendum through the deployment of an important observer mission. We will continue to engage with the North and South alike – including on the crucial task of building the vital democratic institutions – in full cooperation with the UN and other partners.”
On Côte d’Ivoire, where former president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down despite his electoral defeat has led to violence and the displacement of tens of thousands of people, Ms. Ashton voiced full support for the “key role” played by the UN mission there in support of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, the clear winner in November’s run-off elections.
“There are many others [cases] in which the EU is engaged, with, and in support of, the UN, to protect the vulnerable and ensure that genuine democracy can take root,” she concluded.
“Let me end by acknowledging the great responsibility of this Council in steering the international community away from conflict and confrontation. In carrying out its tasks, it can count on the full commitment and support of the EU.”
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