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Mr. President,

It gives me great pleasure to extend to you warm congratulations on your election as President of the 58th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I wish also to take this opportunity to commend your predecessor for his invaluable contribution to the success of- the 57th session of the General Assembly. Allow me also to extend my sincere appreciation to our SecretaryGeneral, Mr. Kofi Annan, for the great effort he has been making to maintain the integrity of the United Nations at this difficult period in the history of theOrganization. 1 wish also to commend the Secretary-General for his invaluable contribution in enhancing humanitarian assistance, fostering development cooperation and strengthening our esteemed organization.

Mr. President,

I wish to preface my brief statement with sincere appreciation to all those who have responded with generous support to assist the people of Ethiopia overcome the consequences of a devastating and extended drought which had put at risk more than a dozen million of our compatriots. The responses from the United States, the United Nations, the EU and many others, were indeed timely as they were generous. The people of Ethiopia are grateful for this demonstration of solidarity.

Mr. President,

We in Ethiopia are the first to realize that this state of affairs in our country cannot continue. Our people cannot be allowed to be vulnerable to famine every other, year because of drought. It is a must for us, and a matter of national survival and - dignity to ensure food security for our people in the shortest time possible. Butthis can be done only when our people are given respite for peace and be able to - fully concentrate on economic development.

We have come to be convinced that for our strategy on economic development and on good governance to succeed, we need to enhance our capacity in human resources development and institution building. It is imperative for us to focus on capacity building and make it a priority.

It has also been found critical that we expand further our decentralization exercise with the view to empowering our people at the grass roots level.

We have begun embarking on a fundamental shift in the country's foreign and national security policy focusing on the internal needs of our country and on ensuring the viability of our country which can be realized only through rapid economic development and the nurturing of democratic governance.

Mr. President,

Like many countries in our continent, and perhaps more than most, Ethiopia has suffered for long as the result of conflict and war and its consequences. The internal causes for the absence of peace and tranquility in our country were removed, once and for all, when the military dictatorship came to an end and when we embarked upon laying the foundations for a democratic and just society twelve years ago.

Until 1998, Ethiopia made great progress whose continuation would certainly have made us far more prepared to withstand the consequences of the extended drought last year and the year before. But the Assembly recalls what befell Ethiopia in 1998. The strong momentum we had managed to create for rapid economic development was pushed off track by the aggression we suffered in May 1998, which took us two years to reverse. Having reversed the aggression, Ethiopia showed its unflinching respect for principles of international law- by taking the lead to ensure the signing of the Algiers Agreement. With little hesitation, Ethiopia withdrew from territory that it has seized in a counteroffensive to expel the invading army from its territory, and to make room for the Temporary Security Zone to which UNMEE was to be deployed later.

Mr. President,

We have now come to a point when the United Nations would have to take greater interest to ensure that the hopes of the Algiers Agreement are fulfilled and the - -promises held up by that Agreement are met. The Algiers Agreements were designed to lead to durable peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It was not meant - to punish the victim of aggression. That is why Ethiopia has felt it necessary to call on the Security Council to help us achieve the hopes contained in the Algiers Agreement.

Ethiopia, Mr. President, is committed to being always a peaceful country. We have always been second to none in our commitment to principles of international - law. This will always remain one of our people's distinguishing features. This is a tradition we will continue to maintain and foster. This is also how we intend to tackle the present complications in the implementation of the Algiers Agreement.

Mr. President,

Few regions of the world have suffered as a result of conflict as much as the Horn - of Africa. We in Ethiopia are committed, along with others in our sub-region, to change this existing reality. With the progress that continues to be made in the peace process to resolve the conflict in Somalia, we are more hopeful today than - ever that the long saga of the Somali people might be about to end. I wish to seize this opportunity to thank the EU, UN and others for the invaluable assistance that they have continued to make to ensure the success of the peace process In Somalia. Little progress could have been made without that support. The IGAD Frontline countries will need even greater support for the success of the peace. process in Somalia which is now getting into its most critical phase.

We are also deeply encouraged by the peace process to resolve the conflict in the Sudan which has also entered into a very delicate phase. The parties deserve to be commended for the great resolve they are demonstrating to address -the common challenges they are facing. The Agreement on Security Arrangements for the interim period that was signed on 25 September; 2003 between the two parties represents a major breakthrough which no doubt will help lay the foundation for more progress in other areas. We would like to thank all those, the US Government in particular, who have made contribution for the progress that has been made in the peace process in the Sudan.

These developments show, Mr. President, that the situation in the Horn of Africa-is not hopeless. The challenges we are facing are nonetheless formidable. We in Ethiopia are determined to contribute more than our share to assist in the regeneration of our sub-region which has also been the target of international terrorism. The achievement of peace and national reconciliation in Somalia is extremely critical in the fight against this scourge as well. That is why all those who are willing to join in the fight against international terrorism should be automatically supportive of the peace effort by IGAD in Somalia.

As a country from a region which has lost much, and has stayed far behind in development, because of the absence of peace, Ethiopia feels solidarity with all the peoples of the Middle East who yearn for peace, Security and justice. As a people very close to the middle East, Ethiopia has close affinity with the people of Palestine and with the people of Israel. It is our hope that the suffering of both will end soon and the hope held up by the Road Map will be realized.

Mr. President,

The hope we have for economic development and the prospect we see for peace in our sub-region can hardly be made a reality without conducive conditions internationally for countries such as Ethiopia to make progress.

In this respect, the general situation is not very promising. Under the circumstances, without greater commitment by the developed world to the rapid economic development of Africa, countries such as Ethiopia would be hardly in a position to meet the Millennium Development Goals. There is without any doubt, an urgent need for increasing the quality and the level of assistance by the developed world to Africa. There is a critical need for addressing the problems surrounding issues related to subsidies and access to developed countries' markets for products from African countries. International solidarity and the promotion of our mutual interests make it imperative that a lasting solution is found to the debt burden.

Africa, Mr. President, is passing through a -very difficult and critical period. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is wreaking havoc in the continent. As is now widely acknowledged, this is not simply a health crisis. The pandemic is also an economic, security and social crises with broad and potentially devastating implications. Hence, this is a challenge not only for Africa but for the entire world.

But Africa, Mr. President, is not asking to be salvaged by the international community without discharging its own responsibilities. What Africa is asking is to be given a break, as many have been given in the past, during some points in their history. In fact, what is involved here is mutual obligations. This is the overriding principle upon which the new partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is based. It is Ethiopia's hope that NEPAD will be taken more seriously as a framework for expanding the co-operation between Africa and the developed countries in the interest of ensuring success in Africa's fight for prosperity and development, and for a safe, peaceful and truly globalized world.

Mr. President,

The United Nations is facing today one of the most difficult periods in Its close to sixty years of history. Its legitimacy and credibility is being increasingly questioned. Many have also questioned its effectiveness. Not a few have also wondered many times whether they have always been assisted by the Organization to nurture and foster peace. My own country has also been disappointed in the past. But we have never abandoned hope in the United Nations and in multilateralism. Because we know, at the end of the day, the UN is indispensable. That is why Ethiopia will always be committed to the UN and its ideals.

It is our hope that all member states, big or small, will also be fully committed to the United Nations and its ideals and carry out the long over due reforms of the Organization with a view to making it more effective.

I Thank You