Statement by the Prime Minister of Italy H.E. Silvio Berlusconi on behalf of the European Union

 NEW YORK September 23, 2003

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Mr. President, Heads of State and Government, Mr. Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour to address the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations on behalf of the European Union, whose presidency Italy holds until December 31, 2003. The acceding countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia align themselves with this statement.

On this occasion, I cannot forget the sacrifice of Sergio Vieira de Mello and the other United Nations officials who recently fell victim to blind, indiscriminate hatred in Baghdad. Allow me also to pay homage to the memory of the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Anna Lindh, victim of a brutal act of violence.

In their memory, and in the memory of all those who have given their lives in the service of freedom and democracy, the European Union pays its heartfelt tribute.

Two weeks ago, we commemorated the second anniversary of September 11. The European Union remembers with great sorrow the victims of those attacks, when the horror of terrorism struck this city, the United States and the world.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The European Union welcomes the Secretary-General's recent report on the implementation of the development goals indicated in the United Nations Millennium Declaration and its conclusions. We share his view that the multilateral institutions should be updated and strengthened and we are ready to contribute actively to the goal of building an international order based on effective multilateral institutions and within the fundamental framework of the UN Charter.

Two of the greatest threats to peace and development today are terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The European Union condemns all acts of terrorism, which are threats to democracy, human rights and economic and social development. We must be firm in our determination to destroy this virus and free present and future generations from its aggressions. Efforts to combat terrorism must respect human rights and the fundamental freedoms, rule-of-law and humanitarian law.

In this struggle we are working in close collaboration with and give our full support to the United Nations. It is a battle that must be conducted for the sake of freedom and democracy-the universal values engraved in the United Nations Charter, which should be deeply rooted in the lives of all the peoples of this globalized world.

We must show the same commitment to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their carriers. We cannot shirk our responsibilities. The European Union has doubled its efforts to put an end to this threat to international peace and security. After having recently agreed to an Action Plan, we are now busy with its implementation. The universal subscription to the main multilateral agreements is at the heart of the European Union's policies.

World peace and security are indivisible. The peoples of Europe are well aware of the need to address both the military and the humanitarian aspects of the North Korean situation. The European Union is closely watching the six-party talks aimed at resolving the current crisis relative to North Korea's nuclear programme. The EU sends a firm appeal to North Korea to completely dismantle its nuclear programme in a prompt transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner, in compliance with the obligations deriving from international non-proliferation agreements.

The European Union reiterates its request to India and Pakistan to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to act in compliance with UN Security Resolution 1172. We forcefully encourage India and Pakistan to pursue a process of political dialogue that will lead to an agreement that is satisfactory to all the parties on all the controversial points, including Kashmir: a problem that cannot be resolved through violence or terrorism.

The European Union expresses its growing.concern over the development of the Iranian nuclear programme and the risks of proliferation that it involves. We reiterate our expectation that Iran will demonstrate accelerated cooperation and full transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency by acceding to its requests. Urgent and unconditional acceptance, signature and implementation of an IAEA safeguards additional protocol is of the utmost importance. The international community would consider it a sign of Iran's commitment to the non-proliferation framework and a step toward the desired reforms.

The non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a priority. It requires constant political pressure and, as the first line of defence, every political and diplomatic instrument available. We cannot allow unconventional weapons to end up in the hands of terrorists or regimes that represent a threat to world peace.

In this context, another grave danger is represented by the increasing spread of light and portable weapons and by the expansion of armed organized violence, whose toll in human lives has begun to exceed the lives lost in wars.

With regard to non-proliferation, the European Union is firmly committed to supporting the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, in pursuit of the following common objectives: strengthening international agreements; increasing support for the monitoring agencies; and intensifying controls over illegal trafficking. Finally, should all political and diplomatic measures fail, recourse to enforcement measures provided for by the United Nations Charter cannot be ruled out.

It will be possible to avoid recourse to force, however, if all the instruments of international law-including human rights safeguards-come to prevail in all their effects.

To this end, the European Union considers the International Criminal Court to be a new instrument with great powers of deterrence and reiterates its full support for the Court and its universalization.

The EU is and will always remain committed to the promotion and protection of all human rights and all the fundamental freedoms. In this context I reiterate our strong support for achieving a universal abolition of the death penalty. In recent years important progress has been made in this direction, thanks in part to civil society. Abolition is our primary goal. Where capital punishment continues to exist, however, we are requesting that its application be impeded through a general moratorium on executions.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Conflict prevention and crisis management are essential components of the EU's contribution to the safeguarding of international peace and security. More than 40,000 men and women of the European Union are currently deployed on UN-led or -authorized peace operations in the world. The Union is directly involved in missions in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and until a few days ago was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the EU demonstrated its will to contribute, also through military means, to the - international community's efforts to restore peace and stability in Africa.

In light of this concrete commitment, the EU reaffirms its support for the reform and strengthening of United Nations' peace-keeping activities.

To confirm its strategic collaboration with the United Nations, the Council of the European Union has decided to intensify relations between the European Union and the United Nations in the area of crisis management. The European Union is currently drafting guidelines on the protection of civilians in EU-led peace operations that will fully reflect the UN doctrine.

Democracy is the only government system that can fully guarantee respect for human rights while fostering development, prosperity and peace. The EU aims to increase its cooperation with Countries that share the values of freedom and democracy. In a spirit of openness toward the entire international community, the EU states its willingness to give support to all those States that intend to comply with these principles.

The European Union continues to consider its relations with Africa a priority, and recalls the common commitment to strengthen this dialogue. The EU has expressed a special interest in strengthening African capacities in peace-keeping and conflict resolution, and has focused its initiatives in these fields also on Africa. We are committed to supporting the efforts of the African Union aimed at establishing a regional security mechanism.

The European Union will continue to work for inter-African peace and will support the efforts of the African States to end the many conflicts that afflict the continent.

Stable conditions for peace cannot be created, however, without a strategy to eradicate the background of poverty and the social exclusion that fuel so many conflicts in Africa and other regions of the world.

On the long road toward governing globalisation and delivering its beneficial effects to all, Africa will remain at the heart of Europe's commitment, and the EU's privileged partnership with its countries shall continue. In this framework we reiterate our support for NEPAD and for the hopes that it represents for African development.

The EU's special commitment to Africa should also be seen in the framework of the Millennium Development Goals, aimed primarily at eradicating poverty, hunger, disease, social and gender inequality and environmental degradation.

The EU expresses its deep regret over the failure to achieve substantial progress, especially with regard to agricultural products, on the occasion of the Cancun Conference organized by the World Trade Organization. We remain convinced that a growing liberalization of world trade, together with development cooperation activities, can play a crucial role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, for a better world. This is why the European Union feels that it is important to continue the negotiations in the WTO framework with the determination and flexibility needed to honour the commitments enshrined in the Doha Development Agenda.

The EU has taken on a financial commitment, in line with the Monterrey objectives, to increase development assistance resources until we reach the target of 0.39% of the- Gross National Product by 2006.

Our commitment does not stop at financial contributions. We are also aiming to join with our development partners in a process that integrates the fight against poverty and disease with progress in the field of safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance and environmental protection. The defence of our environment, also through the implementation of the commitments undersigned in the Kyoto Protocol, is the benchmark of our ability to foster a lasting development that reconciles the demands of economic progress with the need to protect natural resources. These two goals are not alternatives but rather the pillars of the Johannesburg Declaration.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The European Union appreciates the progress made starting with the 57th General Assembly following the presentation of the Secretary-General's report on reform, "Strengthening the United Nations: An Agenda for Further Change," and continues to support the Secretary-General's efforts to implement the reforms needed to bring about efficient management capable of achieving the objectives established for the United Nations by the international community. We will work for the adoption of a budget plan for the 2004-2005 biennium that supports the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the reform process begun during the 57th General Assembly.

The safeguarding of international peace and security require a strong commitment to address regional conflicts. Otherwise there will be an increase in destabilization that could affect the entire international community.

In the Middle East, the European Union is deeply concerned by the deterioration of relations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and reiterates its strong support for the road map, the only hope for a lasting peace in the area and for opening the gate to the stability and development of the region. The EU will lend its efforts to this end within the Quartet. To implement the road to peace, it is also important that there be a concrete and generous commitment on the part of the European Union and the G-8 countries to a plan for the comprehensive economic reconstruction of the area. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authorities must act urgently to implement the commitments provided for in the road map.

In Iraq, the European Union has welcomed the end of Saddam Hussein regime, whose power was built on fear and violation of human rights. The formation of the Iraqi Governing Council was the first major step toward a representative government of the Iraqi people. The European Union underlines the importance of the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty and the establishment of a fully representative Iraqi government through democratic elections. The United Nations has a vital role in this process. The upcoming donors conference in Madrid provides a welcome opportunity for all who share our concern for Iraq's future to contribute positively to the political and economic regeneration of Iraq. We recognize that, for the reconstruction process to be successful, it will need to be accompanied by improvements in the security situation.

In Afghanistan, the European Union wishes to express its full appreciation for the work done by the United Nations within the framework of the Bonn Process. We will continue to assure our support for the process of democratization also through assistance to the reconstruction of the country. The European Union underlines the importance of an effective reform in the area of security as the basis for lasting security and stability in Afghanistan and throughout the region. The preparations for the 2004 election, aimed at forming a government and parliament that are representative of each component of Afghan society, are of primary importance.

In accordance with the conclusions of the European Council of Thessaloniki, the European Union will continue to work tirelessly in support of the UN Secretary­General's efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just, viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem, consistent with the relevant Security Council resolutions. The European Union recalls its willingness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded.

Relations between the countries of Europe and Latin America are rooted in history and provide the basis for an intense collaboration and for the EU's strong interest in the region. The European Union is committed to further improving the overall arrangement of its relations with the countries of Central and South America.

Lastly, the EU will continue to support the processes of stabilization, democratization and development in the Western Balkans. At the EU-Balkan Summit in Thessaloniki, the EU reaffirmed its full consensus on the future European perspective of the region. The realization of these hopes will depend on the ability of the individual countries in the region to implement governmental and economic reforms, and on the fulfilment of the political criteria of the Union, including full cooperation with the International Tribunal on Crimes in former Yugoslavia and progress in the field of respect for the rights of minorities.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen;

The events of recent decades have profoundly changed the world order. Today the conditions exist for the democracies of the world to unite in order to spread those goods that are the unavoidable premise for all others: freedom and democracy.

In the Millennium Declaration we promised food, water, health and education to all. Now the democracies must commit themselves to providing, also and above all, the intangible goods from which the other more tangible goods spring: because without the prerequisites of freedom and democracy there can be no hope for lasting peace and development, nor can there be an ultimate defeat of the challenge of poverty.

Thank you.