HIS EXCELLENCY MR. JAIME GAMA
MINISTER OF STATE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF PORTUGAL
TO THE FIFTY-SIXTH
11 NOVEMBER 2001
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Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I congratulate President Han Seung-soo for his election to the presidency of this General Assembly. I also pay homage to the outgoing President, Mr. Harri Hermanni Holkeri.
I renew my respects to the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, for the notable and courageous way in which he has continued to fulfill his mandate, and for his, and the United Nation's, well merited award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
My Belgian colleague has already addressed this assembly on behalf of the fifteen member states of the European Union, an intervention with which my country aligns itself completely. I would, however, like to reflect upon certain issues on the international agenda.
First, I cannot go without referring to the tragic terrorist attacks of 11 September against the United States, and in particular against the city of New York: and innocent citizens of many nationalities. I reiterate our deep sorrow and reaffirm our complete solidarity with all those, who like us Portuguese; were victimized by the loss of their compatriots and by the suffering of the respective families.
We are dealing with violence "without a face", one that kills indiscriminately and which must be confronted by the international community as a whole, independently of the religion we practice, the race to which we belong, the ideology we follow or the civilization into which we were born. It falls on each and every Member State of the United Nations to fight this scourge, a scourge whose blind hatred has dropped the world into a state of turmoil not seen since the end of the Second World War.
What is most shocking to us is the fact that we are faced with a force that ignores or despises the very concept of the right to life.
We must embark on a concerted effort, at all levels; destined to submit to justice those guilty of the crimes committed, with a view to avoiding a repetition of the terrorist acts of September.
We believe the United Nations has an irreplaceable role to play as the source of legitimacy for the collective effort of the international community in the fight against this common enemy.
It is for other fora to complement these actions, orienting and adjusting it in accordance with the concrete needs of their respective mandates.
In this context, I would like to recall that Portugal has supported, without reservation, the international fight against terrorism here in the UN, in NATO, in the European Union, in the OSCE and in our bilateral relations with the United States and with other countries. In its presidency of the OSCE next year, Portugal will attribute particular priority to this matter.
For its importance under the current circumstances, I must stress the importance of the entire collection of international legislation produced, or in line for approval, under the aegis of the UN, in the area of the fight against terrorism: the twelve conventions whose ratification and implementation make them crucial weapons in the prevention and the fight against this scourge.
For its particular significance at this time, allow me to refer specifically to the work of the General Assembly on the draft Global Convention on Terrorism. The great deal of effort expended by the great majority of delegations in search of compromise solutions bear witness to a renewed convergence of wills in the pursuit of this common good. We should take advantage of the current momentum of collective commitment to reach a speedy conclusion of this essential instrument.
Portugal has already signed eleven of the twelve international conventions against terrorism, and is strongly committed to fully implement its provisions. We deposited yesterday the instrument of ratification for the International Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and will deposit shortly the instrument of ratification for the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation.
We also welcome the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1368 and 1373, which are fundamental instruments to the cohesion of the international community in its legitimate fight against terrorism.
I would also like to highlight the measures contained therein for the fight against terrorist financing - an absolutely crucial area.
As I have already stated, Portugal has supported, from the beginning, the international campaign underway in Afghanistan; one that has been legitimized by the deliberations of the United Nations. Those responsible for the terrorist acts that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians on September l1th must be captured and tried and their military infrastructure eliminated.
We consider that the underlying principles that guide the intervention in Afghanistan should include the preservation of territorial integrity; the unity of the country, as well as the establishment of a broadly-supported, multiethnic and representative government.
We believe that the Afghan people should be associated, from the start, with the reconstruction of their country, which has been devastated in recent years by a brutal regime not recognized internationally.
The international community should not spare any effort in alleviating the serious humanitarian situation which affects the Afghan people.
Finally, let me reiterate the unequivocal support of the Portuguese government to the efforts undertaken by the United Nations and, in particular, by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Lakdar Brahimi, for their vision of a transitional governmental structure and for the planning of a -possible UN mission on the ground. In a post-Taliban scenario, the United Nations will be called upon to take a decisive role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, as well as in the establishment of peaceful relations between Afghanistan and its neighbors.
The United Nations plays an indispensable role in the prevention of conflicts, in the maintenance of international peace and security and in the reconstruction of territories devastated by war.
Numerous conflicts await solution and constitute a considerable challenge to the capacity of the international community to guarantee their peaceful and definitive settlement.
The situation in the Middle East; namely in Palestine, is the most worrying, even placing international security at risk.
The international community cannot spare any efforts to ensure that Israel and the Palestinians return to the path of dialogue. Only there will a solution be found that is just for both the Palestinian people, who have fought for decades for the recognition of their homeland - an inalienable and irrefusable right - and for dignified living conditions within a sovereign and responsible Palestinian state, and for Israel, that has the equal right to live in security in the region and at peace with its neighbors.
As another example of international conflicts that drag on and seemingly have no definitive solution in sight, my country profoundly regrets the continuation of the armed conflict in Angola, and its severe humanitarian consequences.
Therefore, Portugal continues to reaffirm its commitment and support to the search for a political solution to this problem in line with the provisions of the "Acordos de Paz", of the Lusaka Protocol and of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. It is indispensable that the commitments undertaken before the international community and, principally, before the Angolan people, be respected.
Portugal encourages the Angolan government to redouble its efforts to achieve national reconciliation and the introduction of political and economic reforms; with a view to reinforcing; namely, the legitimacy of its representative and plural institutions and the strengthening of the credibility of its monetary and financial structures.
We appeal also for a return to political means by those, like the sector that inspires the more radical line of UNITA, that have resorted to methods- namely of violence against civilians - that have placed them outside the international community. In fact, the absence of constructive proposals, including in what regards a cease fire or the cessation of offensive operations, does not contribute to the implementation of the possible platforms for dialogue that the current situation demands.
We praise the important and increasing contribution made by Angolan society - namely its churches - towards peace and reconciliation and consider that a United Nations presence in Angola continues to be essential and should be encouraged.
I would like, in that vein, to actively encourage the Secretary-General to intensify all efforts within his capacity to re-launch the peace process in Angola with a view to the adequate implementation of the Lusaka Protocol, so that this great country may finally guarantee tranquility to its citizens and recuperate its standing and role to which it is entitled in international life, inserting itself fully into the objectives of the African renaissance. I am certain that the Troika of Observer States, as well as the African regional organizations and the European Union will support, in a dedicated manner, that contribution of the United Nations Secretary-General for the definitive solution to the Angolan issue.
When the international community successfully intervenes in a conflict, it should not deviate from the consolidation of the solutions reached. The United Nations has the responsibility to maintain an appropriate level of involvement until the definitive conclusion of the peace process, so as to not put at risk the investments and expectations created. The United Nations should go ahead, without hesitation, in their support in creating viable nations.
I welcome the fact that the Security Council has endorsed this understanding with regard to East Timor on 31 October. The international community cannot neglect the consolidation of the solutions gained in East Timor, whose transition to independence is, in fact, a clear success case for the United Nations, and a special reason for pride for the CPLP (the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries). I take this opportunity to underline that this entire process has been conducted in an exemplary manner by UNTAET under the leadership of Sergio Vieira de Mello.
The work of the United Nations towards the consolidation of a new and indisputably sovereign democratic and economically viable state only reinforces the credibility of the organization at a time in international life in which its inspiration and leadership are ever more necessary to correctly manage the great global challenges of the 21th Century.