HEAD OF TAJIKISTAN MISSION DESCRIBES REASONS FOR PEACE PROCESS SUCCESS, AS SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS FINAL MEETING ON UNITED NATIONS MISSION

12 May 2000
SC/6859

HEAD OF TAJIKISTAN MISSION DESCRIBES REASONS FOR PEACE PROCESS SUCCESS, AS SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS FINAL MEETING ON UNITED NATIONS MISSION

12 May 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6859

HEAD OF TAJIKISTAN MISSION DESCRIBES REASONS FOR PEACE PROCESS SUCCESS, AS SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS FINAL MEETING ON UNITED NATIONS MISSION

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Despite Successful Completion of Transitional Period, Speakers Warn Country Needs Continued International Support

The success of the peace process in Tajikistan was attributable to three main factors -- United Nations involvement from the very beginning of the hostilities, the strong support of eight neighbouring States, and the political will of the two Tajik parties and their leadership to resolve differences through dialogue, the Security Council was told this afternoon.

As it held its final meeting on the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), whose mandate ends on 15 May, Ivo Petrov, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMOT, said that despite the successful completion of the transitional period, the country still faced many problems. Among them were the large number of armed elements still operating in the country and drug trafficking.

In view of those challenges, he continued, Tajikistan required continued support from the international community for stabilization and post-conflict peace-building. The key to maintaining peace and political stability was sustained economic growth. Without international economic assistance, the viability of the political achievements might be endangered.

While it had not been easy to find the right formula to achieve peace, the path from armed confrontation to national reconciliation turned out to be the only correct path, said the representative of Tajikistan. With the signing of the peace agreement, the gloomiest chapter in Tajikistan’s modern history came to a close and a new era had begun. The long road to national reconciliation, which had begun seven years ago, had come to a close today. The United Nations could, with pride, consider Tajikistan as one of its peacekeeping successes.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the peace agreement was an important achievement not only of the Tajik people, but also of the United Nations. The foundation for success was the good will of the parties to the conflict themselves. There was still much to be done to consolidate that peace. There should be no break in the involvement of the United Nations in Tajikistan, he said.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6859 4140th Meeting (PM) 12 May 2000

No complacency in the country’s path to lasting peace should be allowed, stated the representative of Iran. Due to remaining root causes of the crisis, the possibility of renewed instability could not be excluded. Also, daunting economic and social problems had yet to be addressed. The continued support of the international community in the post-conflict phase would be important for Tajikistan’s ability to sustain and build on the achievements of the peace process.

On behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the representative of Austria said that many issues in the transformation process in Tajikistan needed further improvement, such as the situation of human rights and refugees and the fight against organized crime. In addition to political and economic challenges, there were also environmental ones. After the withdrawal of UNMOT, the OSCE would be the focal point of the efforts of the international community in assisting Tajikistan.

Namibia's representative said that, in noting the overall success of the peace process, he could not help but draw a parallel between difficulties experienced by UNMOT and missions currently under way, particularly in Africa. Clearly, with perseverance by all parties, a mission could be successful, despite the existence of numerous obstacles.

Even more striking, he added, were the characteristics which contributed to UNMOT's success -- the early engagement of the United Nations in the conflict, sustained political support by the Council and interested regional States, effective crisis management, and the clear will of the people to end the war and pursue a political solution. If those requirements could be met by the United Nations and the international community, other peace efforts could also succeed.

The representative of Canada said the successful conclusion of UNMOT was a proud achievement and particularly gratifying in light of the current difficulties the United Nations was facing in Sierra Leone. While the two missions were very different both in scope and complexity, UNMOT’s contribution to the peace process in Tajikistan did demonstrate that the Organization had an important role to play in helping Member States overcome security crises and embark on the path to peace, national reconciliation and democracy.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Argentina, Bangladesh, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Tunisia, United States, Jamaica, Ukraine, Mali, China, Portugal (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Japan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

The meeting, which convened at 3:50 p.m., adjourned at 6:02 p.m.

Council Work Programme

When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Tajikistan (document S/2000/387), which updates developments in that country and the activities of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) since the last report, dated 14 March.

According to the report, the final one on UNMOT, the Mission is proceeding with preparations for its eventual withdrawal. All field stations have been closed, and personnel and equipment withdrawn to Dushanbe. As at 30 April, there were 17 military observers in UNMOT, including medical personnel, who will leave the Mission together with the last group of civilian staff.

Several characteristics of the United Nations involvement in the peace process in Tajikistan contributed to its overall success, the report states. They were: the early engagement of the United Nations in the conflict; sustained political support of the Council and interested Member States in the region; cooperation with other organizations, notably, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); effective crisis management; and, above all, the clear will of the Tajik people to end the war and pursue a political solution.

The report states that, from the beginning, the mandated activities of UNMOT were channelled towards a long-term objective -- to promote peace and national reconciliation. The reintegration of the opposition into the political life of the country is a big step along that path. The recent parliamentary elections, while advancing the democratic process in Tajikistan, were, in the view of international observers, seriously flawed, however. Armed elements continue to operate outside the control of the Government, contributing to insecurity. Daunting economic and social problems must also be addressed as a priority.

Consequently, the report continues, the possibility of renewed instability cannot be excluded, owing both to domestic factors and to the unstable situation in the region, notably, in neighbouring Afghanistan. The continued support of the international community in the post-conflict phase will be important for Tajikistan's ability to sustain, and build on, the achievements of the peace process. The Secretary-General will be contacting the Council shortly about the possible establishment of a post-conflict peace-building office with the function of addressing institutional, social and economic development in an integrated manner, to consolidate peace and promote democracy.

Statements

IVO PETROV, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the Mission in Tajikistan, said that the main provisions of the peace agreement had been implemented, and the transition period came to an end with the holding of the first, multi-party election in Tajikistan and the first session of the new Parliament. The positive outcome of the peace process in Tajikistan was attributable to three main factors: United Nations involvement from the very beginning of the hostilities in the country; the strong support of eight neighbouring States, especially the Russian Federation and Iran, who later became guarantor States of the General Agreement and members of the Contact Group; and the political will of the two Tajik parties and their leadership to resolve differences through dialogue. Despite the successful completion of the transitional period, the country was still facing a lot of problems, he said. There were too many people in arms and the country was regarded by organized crime as a preferable trade route for drug trafficking to Europe. The situation in Afghanistan was a constant source of instability for the whole region. In view of those challenges, Tajikistan required continued support from the international community for stabilization and post- conflict peace-building. The key to maintaining peace and political stability in Tajikistan was sustained economic growth. It remained the poorest Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country with an average monthly wage of less than $10.

However, he continued, it must be stressed that the country needed more than humanitarian assistance. The programme of economic and social recovery and structural changes, including market reforms, required significant international development assistance. That had been highly inadequate so far. Without international economic assistance, the viability of the political achievements might be endangered. In the case of Tajikistan, one could say that proportionally to their accomplishments the Tajik people had received less support than other States and peoples in similar situations. That could be rectified through assistance for the new period of post-conflict stabilization in the country.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that he welcomed the success achieved in the peace process in Tajikistan. The peace agreement was an important achievement not only of the Tajik people, but also of the United Nations. The foundation for success was the good will of the parties to the conflict themselves. Russia had played an active role in all stages of the Tajik peace process. Russian peacekeepers, in close cooperation with UNMOT, had contributed to stabilizing the region, ensuring security and in delivering humanitarian assistance. Also, Russian border police had erected a barrier to illegal drug trafficking and put a halt to terrorist activities.

There was still much to be done to consolidate the peace achieved in Tajikistan, he said. He supported measures, such as the real integration of the members of the former warring parties into the government structures. Russia was ready, with other partners, to build up efforts to counter international terrorism in the region. He also supported the intention of the Secretary-General to inform the Council of the objectives of the relevant divisions of the United Nations in Tajikistan following the close of UNMOT. There should be no break in the involvement of the United Nations in Tajikistan. The establishment of posts for the military in the civilian sector and the disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants were some of the remaining challenges.

ANA MARIA MOGLIA (Argentina) said that she was pleased by the evolution in the political process in Tajikistan since January 1993, when UNMOT set itself up as a small political office in the midst of the civil war. The succession of efforts by special envoys to promote inter-Tajik talks was productive, culminating in a ceasefire agreement. In the peace process, the peacekeeping forces of the CIS participated, as well as the Contact Group and the OSCE Mission.

Argentina regretted, however, that in the consolidating process there had been difficult moments relating to the security of UNMOT personnel, she said. Six UNMOT staff had been lost. Recent parliamentary elections were far from perfect, and there were acute economic and social problems. Her delegation agreed with the Secretary-General when he said that continued support was necessary in the post- conflict era, so that Tajikistan could both maintain and benefit from the proceeds of the peace process. Argentina awaited the proposal that the Council would receive on the establishment of a peace-building office. Argentina believed that the United Nations presence in Tajikistan would, thus, be guaranteed during the new stage of democratic consolidation.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the holding of parliamentary elections in Tajikistan was a significant step forward in the democratization process. Notably, it had included the participation of members of the former warring parties and had concluded successfully without any violence. The reintegration of ex-combatants should be given high priority, in order to consolidate peace. The role of the Tajik Government should focus on consolidating the achievements already gained. The elections were only the beginning in the democratization process.

He then turned to the future United Nations role and engagement of the international community. The Secretary-General would be consulting with the Government about post-conflict peace-building measures, he said. It would be worthwhile for the Council to consider some viable options for further involvement in Tajikistan. The international community should ensure that the gains made in Tajikistan were not lost and should come forward with assistance to ensure that the peace process continued.

MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said that his delegation welcomed the significant achievements in the peace and reconciliation process in Tajikistan and congratulated the Tajik leadership and people for their political will and strong commitment. He urged them to strive further to strengthen and consolidate the achievements made thus far and make the peace process irreversible.

The United Nations, with the support of the Contact Group, international organizations, the OSCE in particular, and the CIS peacekeeping forces had played a crucial role in the Tajik peace process, he continued. At least seven years of active involvement of UNMOT had been recognized as a success, culminating in the successful conclusion to the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in that country. Success was not, however, without a price. He paid tribute to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, to UNMOT staff, as well as the Mission’s personnel who gave their lives in the service of peace in Tajikistan.

There was still a long way to go before peace could really endure in Tajikistan, he said. The challenge of disarming armed elements that operated outside the Government’s control, as well as the daunting economic and social problems, had yet to be fully overcome. Continued international support for Tajikistan would remain necessary beyond the current transitional period. He strongly supported the Secretary-General’s intention to establish a United Nations post-conflict peace-building office in Tajikistan after the withdrawal of UNMOT and looked forward to the details on the establishment of that office. His delegation fully supported the draft presidential statement.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that the road to peace in Tajikistan had not been easy. The UNMOT had been forced to act in volatile and dangerous circumstances, losing six of its staff. And the political process had also been difficult. It continued to be difficult, with international observers declaring the recent parliamentary elections to be deeply flawed. With the elections, the period of implementation of the General Agreement came to an end, and with it UNMOT’s role, he said. The Mission, its leadership and its staff must be congratulated for the excellent work they had done in such a hazardous environment. The peacekeepers who gave their lives to the cause of peace in Tajikistan should be particularly remembered. The personal security of United Nations staff should continue to be a prime concern for the Council. The Council should trust that the Government of Tajikistan would take steps to ensure the safety of remaining personnel.

He said that the task that faced the people and the leadership of Tajikistan must not be underestimated, if the opportunity for lasting peace were to be grasped. The United Kingdom was pleased that the Secretary-General intended to establish a post-conflict peace-building office in Dushanbe to address institutional, social and economic development in an integrated manner and to consolidate peace and democracy. His delegation hoped that that office would coordinate with the other international actors in Tajikistan, in particular, with the humanitarian and development agencies and with the OSCE.

The United Kingdom also hoped that the office would incorporate a significant human rights capability, he added. Respect for the human rights of the Tajik people, the building of strong democratic institutions, and the enforcement of the rule of law were not optional extras, but key elements to the future peace and stability of Tajikistan. Their promotion should be at the core of the new office’s role.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia), while acknowledging the overall success of the peace process, noted the difficulties that remained. In particular, he said, armed elements existed outside the control of the Government, and the country faced daunting economic and social challenges. He hoped that, in time, those problems could also be solved effectively. When reading the report on UNMOT, he could not help draw a parallel between difficulties experienced by UNMOT and missions currently under way, particularly in Africa. There was a clear message that, with perseverance by all parties, a mission could be successful, despite the existence of numerous and protracted difficulties.

Even more striking, he said, were the characteristics cited which contributed to the overall positive outcome of the Mission. Among them were the early engagement of the United Nations in the conflict, sustained political support of the Council and interested Member States in the region, effective crisis management and the clear will of the people of the country to end the war and pursue a political solution. It seemed that if those requirements could be met by the United Nations and the international community, other peace efforts could also succeed. Political will was required of all parties concerned. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s opinion about the possible establishment of a post- conflict peace-building office in Tajikistan and supported the presidential statement submitted by the Russian Federation.

Mr. JERANDI (Tunisia) said that the success of the peace process was the result of the will demonstrated by the Tajik parties. He applauded their will to overcome the many obstacles they faced on the road to peace. While noting with satisfaction the role of the United Nations in the implementation of the peace agreement in Tajikistan, he also drew attention to others who had also played a vital role, such as the personnel of UNMOT, who worked and lived under very dangerous conditions. He paid tribute to all those who lost their lives serving peace in Tajikistan. With the withdrawal of UNMOT, the continued involvement of the United Nations would be particularly important for the continued consolidation of peace. He urged all parties to persevere to ensure that the gains would be consolidated.

MARK MINTON (United States) said that with the recent violence-free parliamentary elections, the transition set forth in the peace accords had been essentially completed. The United States concurred with the Secretary-General’s assessment that the process which UNMOT was created to support was now over, and it agreed that the Mission should be formally terminated upon expiration of its current mandate. The United States thanked the leadership and staff of UNMOT and paid tribute to those who lost their lives for the cause of peace in Tajikistan.

The United States hoped that the Government of that country would build on the successful work of UNMOT by taking further steps to consolidate the gains of the peace process, he said. Although the recent elections constituted a significant step towards democracy, they were marked by serious flaws and could not be truly characterized as free, fair and transparent. The process of reconciliation among various political and social groups in the country was still far from complete. The United States, therefore, believed that the closure of the peacekeeping mission should by no means signify an end to the international community’s engagement with Tajikistan and support for the peace process there. There was a need for the establishment of a small, follow-on United Nations mission to support peace-building and further national reconciliation.

He said that the United States welcomed further discussion of the follow-up mission and was open to ideas and suggestions as to how it could best be organized, staffed and administered. The United States anticipated that the mission would build effectively on the accomplishments of UNMOT and looked forward to working with the international community and with the Government and people of Tajikistan in bringing about full national reconciliation and stability in that country.

MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said that the successful conclusion of UNMOT was a proud achievement and particularly gratifying in light of the current difficulties the United Nations was facing in Sierra Leone. While the two missions were very different both in scope and complexity, UNMOT’s contribution to the peace process in Tajikistan did demonstrate that the Organization had an important role to play in helping Member States overcome security crises and embark on the path to peace, national reconciliation and democracy.

Canada saluted the valiant efforts of the men and women of UNMOT for their important work under very difficult and often dangerous conditions, he said. He paid tribute to those members who gave their lives in the service of peace in Tajikistan. A fitting memorial would be the continuation of United Nations involvement in the country to support national efforts to build a peaceful and stable country rooted in respect for human rights, the rule of law, democracy and good governance. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s proposal for the post-conflict peace-building office, which should include a component focusing on the promotion and protection of human rights. The international community must remain actively involved in helping address the range of political, economic, social and human rights issues affecting the country.

M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that her country supported the presidential statement before the Council and welcomed the democratization process now taking place in Tajikistan. It was an important step towards stability in Central Asia. The commitment of the people and the Government of Tajikistan to the creation of a pluralistic democracy was clear. The country was well on the road to peace and national reconciliation. The efforts of the Government aimed at economic, political and military reform must be supported. Existing political institutions must be strengthened in order to ensure the creation of a sustainable system of governance, in collaboration with the Tajik people.

She said the United Nations must remain involved in order to cement the gains made in the peace process, to foster greater democracy in the region and to ensure that continuing instability in other countries of the region did not jeopardize the peace achieved. Jamaica, therefore, welcomed the intention of the Secretary- General to create a peace-building mission upon the complete withdrawal of UNMOT. Such a mission was essential to prevent a return to civil war and to facilitate national reconciliation. The long-term economic and social development of Tajikistan must be addressed by strengthening local institutions and through capacity-building.

VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said that the Government and people of Tajikistan would continue to seek a way forward that provided for the development of democratic institutions. Even more important, it must be accompanied by progress on economic and social reforms. That would undoubtedly produce a positive impact on the security environment in the Central Asian region. The road to peace and reconciliation in Tajikistan had not been a smooth one. It was marked by periods of uncertainty and grave crises. However, the Government and political parties had demonstrated their commitment to the peace agreement, solved their differences through dialogue, overcame many obstacles, and eventually embarked on the path towards peace and democracy.

Today, Tajik society faced the tasks of no less importance than before -- to consolidate peace and promote democracy, he said. It was crucial to continue to render international support to Tajikistan during such a very challenging period. The United Nations should provide assistance in the consolidation of democracy in Tajikistan. He supported the intention of the Secretary-General to establish a post-conflict peace-building office in Tajikistan. Cooperation between the future office and other international agencies in Tajikistan and with the OSCE Mission would be of great importance for the democratic development of Tajik society. He also supported the presidential statement proposed by the Russian Federation.

ILLALKAMAR AG OUMAR (Mali) said that the holding, for the first time, of multi-party and pluralistic elections was a crucial step for the democratization process in Tajikistan. The two chambers of the newly elected Parliament held their first session in April. To reach the current stage, the United Nations had come down a long road. The international community must not rest on its laurels. The road ahead was a long one with many obstacles. Armed elements were still operating in the country and were contributing to the lack of security, as well as to economic difficulties.

Tajikistan was entering a new phase in its history, he said. More than ever, it needed the assistance of the United Nations to consolidate the peace achieved. He would support measures aimed to promote democracy and consolidate peace. He thanked the United Nations Mission, the military observers, and the men and women who had participated in UNMOT under dangerous conditions and paid tribute to those who lost their lives.

WANG YINGFAN (China), speaking in his national capacity, said that the successful completion of UNMOT showed that the success of a peacekeeping mission was dependent on the will of the parties, as well as the support of the international community. He expressed his appreciation to all those who had played a role in that success. As the mandate came to an end, he paid special tribute to the successive Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and saluted UNMOT for the role it played in promoting national reconciliation, especially those who had lost their lives. He would support the measures to be taken to promote post- conflict peace-building in Tajikistan. As a neighbour, China would continue to assist Tajikistan in its path towards peace and national reconciliation.

RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan) said that today’s discussion had provided good food for thought and guidelines for further action. During the period leading up to the signing of a peace agreement, the merciless flames of internal conflict were raging in Tajikistan. The moral atmosphere was poisoned by enmity and distress. Also, the situation on the border was a dangerous and unstable one. It was no easy thing to find the sole reasonable formula to achieve peace.

It was against that backdrop that a difficult inter-Tajik dialogue was begun, he continued. The negotiations ultimately led to the signing in 1997 in Moscow of the General Agreement. The path from armed confrontation to national reconciliation turned out to be the only correct path. With the conclusion of the Moscow General Agreement, hope for peace had returned. The gloomiest chapter in Tajikistan’s modern history came to a close and a new era had begun.

The long road to national reconciliation, which had begun seven years ago, came to a close today, he said. All the provisions of the peace agreement had been implemented, some 6,000 former fighters of the opposition had been reintegrated into society, and a government had now been formed. For the first time, multi-party pluralistic elections were successfully held. One of the major achievements was the return to their homes of virtually all refugees and internally displaced persons. More than 50,000 Tajiks had lost their lives during the period leading up to peace. Tajikistan could not address those issues alone.

He said that the United Nations could, with pride, consider Tajikistan as one of its peacekeeping successes. There was today in the country a reign of peace that was growing stronger every day. In resolving the remaining issues, it counted on the support of the international community. The United Nations should reassert its authority through post-conflict peace-building measures. The rendering of assistance by the international community would strengthen the consolidation of peace in the country.

Finally, he expressed his gratitude to the unfailing support of Council members, who were able to coordinate the successful implementation of the peace agreement. He also thanked all those who played a role in the achievement of peace in Tajikistan and paid tribute to those who had sacrificed their lives for peace.

ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Iceland, said that the European Union would like to put on record its satisfaction and appreciation for the important role played by the Mission, supported by the Contact Group and international organizations in assisting the parties in the implementation of the General Agreement. He took note of the Secretary-General’s analysis of the factors that contributed to the overall success of the Mission, including the early engagement of the United Nations and the sustained political support of the Council.

He said that the key factor in the peace process had been the reintegration of the opposition into the political life of Tajikistan, a sine qua non for national reconciliation and the strengthening of the democratic process. That was why the European Union was particularly disturbed by the undemocratic events and procedures that took place in connection with the presidential elections in November 1999 and by the seriously flawed recent parliamentary elections. The ultimate success of the peace process in Tajikistan would depend on national reconciliation and a functioning democratic society based on the rule of law. The Union strongly supported the peace process in Tajikistan and linked the future development of contractual relations between the European Union and Tajikistan to it.

The Union also looked forward to the proposals of the Secretary-General with regard to the possible establishment in Tajikistan of a United Nations office charged with addressing institutional, social and economic development in an integrated manner to consolidate peace and promote democracy, he said. The Union stressed the importance of a human rights component.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said that his country fully agreed with the Secretary- General’s assessment that, with the completion of UNMOT’s mandate, the democratization process of Tajikistan had to move on to a new stage. Continued United Nations involvement was indispensable for the consolidation of the achievements made so far. Japan supported the establishment of a post-conflict peace-building office in Tajikistan. That Tajikistan’s first democratic parliamentary elections were held in a relatively peaceful atmosphere with multi- party participation was no doubt an important step towards the realization of democracy. It must be acknowledged, however, that certain shortcomings remained in the electoral system, including a lack of transparency in the voter registration process and ambiguities pertaining to the independence of the election administration. Japan urged the Tajik Government to learn lessons from the recent experiences and to improve the electoral system.

It was evident that the Government and people of Tajikistan would have many more problems to solve in order to make further advances in its political, economic and social development, he said. The demobilization, disarmanent and reintegration into society of former soldiers was particularly important for the stability of that country, whose democracy was still fragile. To solve those problems, Tajikistan needed greater attention and support from the international community. Japan would continue to help Tajikistan in its nation-building efforts. It appealed to both the Government and the international community to renew their determination to work together to further advance democratization, national reconciliation and economic development in Tajikistan.

GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria), speaking in his capacity as Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that since Austria had acceded to the Chair of the OSCE in the beginning of the year, Central Asia had become one the priority areas of the organization’s work. The OSCE Mission to Tajikistan was established at the 1993 Rome Ministerial Council Meeting. Apart from the main office in Dushanbe, there were field offices in Kurgan-Tube, Shartuz, Dusti, Garm and, since February 2000, in Khujand. The Mission had received a broad and flexible mandate to support political reconciliation, democracy-building and respect for human rights. Much of the Mission’s work was focused on the human dimension. The mandate also provided for assistance in legislative reform, in the establishment of the rule of law, as well as support for gender equality programmes.

He said that his delegation would like to express appreciation for the excellent cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations in the monitoring of the implementation of the General Agreement. Although concerns were raised from the recent elections in regard to the independence of media and election commissions, as well as the transparency of the county and tabulation procedures, the elections were undoubtedly a step forward in the process of democratization. Today, the main goals of the peace agreement, namely, to establish peace and security and to enable national reconciliation, had been accomplished.

Many issues in the transformation process in Tajikistan needed further improvement, he said. They included the democratization process, the human rights situation, the freedom of media, the refugee situation, the establishment of a civil society, the fight against organized crime, and the support for the economic transformation. In addition to political and economic challenges, there were also environmental ones. Regional management of transboundary water resources could be a tool for promoting cooperation and improving economic and social development. The OSCE valued the efforts of both Tajik sides and the achievements made so far. After the withdrawal of UNMOT, the OSCE would be the focal point of the efforts of the international community in assisting Tajikistan.

MADINA B. JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) said that the recent elections in Tajikistan, held for the first time on a multi-party basis, testified to the consolidation of Tajik society. The elections also played a significant role in advancing the democratic development of Tajikistan and building a civil society in that country. The newly elected bi-chamber Parliament, which had already convened its first session, would be one of the main instruments in moving the country forward towards progress, democracy and prosperity. Stability in Tajikistan was of great importance not only to the Tajik people, but also to the peoples of the whole region. The Central Asian States were deeply concerned by the “unstable” situation in the region, notably, in neighbouring Afghanistan, as mentioned in the Secretary- General’s report.

Tajikistan was entering into a new phase of nation-building, she said. In order to build on the success achieved during the peace process in Tajikistan, the United Nations and the international community had to provide further assistance to that country. Kazakhstan supported wholeheartedly the intentions of the Secretary- General to establish a post-conflict peace-building office, which would address difficult economic and social problems faced by Tajikistan. Projects for Tajikistan within the framework of the United Nations Special Programme for Economies of Central Asia, recently inaugurated during the Eurasian Summit in Almaty, could play an important role in economic rehabilitation and development in that country. Her delegation appealed to all Member States to continue to render their support to Tajikistan in its reconstruction in the social and economic spheres, and in building a stable and prosperous society.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said all sides in the conflict in Tajikistan deserved commendation for their wisdom and sagacity in choosing the path of peace by abandoning violence and destruction. The UNMOT. in which Pakistan had actively participated, had provided the stability required for the peace process to be pursued. Another contribution was the intra-Tajik dialogue, the third round of which took place in Islamabad in October 1994.

Those talks enabled the parties to make significant strides through the following documents they signed: the Protocol on the Joint Commission for the implementation of the agreement on a provisional ceasefire and the cessation of other hostilities; and a joint communiqué on the results of the third round of intra-Tajik peace talks on national reconciliation. Pakistan agreed to become one of the guarantor States when the parties eventually signed the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord on 27 June 1997.

While Pakistan fully shared the sense of satisfaction expressed on the advancement of the peace process in Tajikistan, he pointed out that the report of the Secretary-General before the Council did not include any specific reference to Pakistan’s contribution, while others had been recognized. His delegation was not sure whether it was “a deliberate omission or an inadvertent error”. Whatever might be the case, he said the absence of recognition of Pakistan’s significant role in the report and in any resultant statement raised questions about the objectivity and impartiality of those responsible for preparation of those documents. Pakistan hoped it was an oversight that would be rectified. In any case, Pakistan would continue to contribute to the post-conflict peace-building process in Tajikistan.

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said the parties should be commended for their belief in a peaceful settlement of the conflict throughout the negotiations and the transitional period. The restoration of peace and tranquillity was also a success for regional and international peacemaking actors. Sustained efforts under United Nations auspices, accompanied by close cooperation and active participation of regional governments, including the second round of talks in Tehran, had borne fruit.

The restoration of peace in Tajikistan would be remembered as one of the great achievements of the United Nations in the latter part of the twentieth century, he said. There was no doubt that the Secretary-General, his successive special envoys, Secretariat colleagues, as well as the men and women who served in UNMOT and worked in a frequently difficult and hazardous environment, played a decisive and commendable role in bringing about peace in the country.

Iran, as a member of the Group of Guarantor States and International Organizations, spared no effort in helping solve pressing issues from the very start of the talks. It hoped the cordial relations between the two Governments would continue to grow. No complacency in the country’s path to lasting peace should be allowed. Due to the remaining root causes of the crisis, the possibility of renewed instability could not be excluded, he said. Daunting economic and social problems had yet to be addressed. He agreed with the Secretary-General that the continued support of the international community in the post-conflict phase would be important for Tajikistan’s ability to sustain and build on the achievements of the peace process.

ALISHER VOHIDOV (Uzbekistan) said that over the last seven years the United Nations had played an important role in the peace process in Tajikistan, a country that had been rent apart by civil war. Its staff members, working under difficult and dangerous conditions, had worked hard to establish peace in that country. Recent events clearly demonstrated that that country had made substantial progress towards the establishment of peace, including favourable conditions for the rehabilitation of an economy devastated by war.

While paying due tribute to the significant progress and implementation of agreements achieved so far, a great deal remained to be done, he continued. The protocol on military issues was still not fully implemented. Uzbekistan shared the view that the continuation of an unsafe situation was being promoted by armed elements operating in the territory of Tajikistan. The possibility of a build-up of hostilities in the future could not be excluded. Based on the above, Uzbekistan welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a United Nations office for post-conflict peace-building

Uzbekistan had been directly interested in the cessation of hostilities in Tajikistan, he said. Early on, it had made all possible efforts for successful peace process. For many centuries, the peoples of Central Asia had shared the closest ties. For that reason, Uzbekistan had become a member of the Contact Group to observe the implementation of the General Agreement. Within the framework of its activities in that Group, Uzbekistan sent food products and medicines and assisted in the return of refugees to their homes. Uzbekistan also participated in the drawing up and adoption of the relevant General Assembly resolutions, and consistently welcomed and supported the Council statements on the situation in Tajikistan. It would continue to support the peace process in that country.

AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) welcomed the success achieved by all parties in Tajikistan, which was significant not only for them, but for all the countries in the region. Tajikistan could now begin a new phase of economic and political reconstruction. The peace must be reinforced in order for development to take place, which was crucial for sustaining peace. She supported the Secretary- General's proposal for the establishment of a post-conflict peace-building office in Tajikistan and called for comprehensive support for the peace process from the international community. The activities of the United Nations and all other actors in Tajikistan had demonstrated effective cooperation in implementing the General Agreement. That experience could serve as a model for the settlement of conflict in other areas of the world. Turkmenistan would actively support the consolidation of peace in Tajikistan and in the region as a whole.

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For information media. Not an official record.