I thank all of you for participating in this very timely discussion on the Malian political process.
Your participation indicates the importance that peace and stability in Mali has for the region and the world.
I especially welcome His Excellency Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of Mali.
I am pleased to welcome representatives of the African Union and ECOWAS who have contributed, since the very beginning, to stabilization efforts in Mali. I would like to thank them for their close collaboration with MINUSMA and my Special Representative.
I would also like to express my appreciation to all the other friends, partners and supporters of Mali present today.
We are here together to support the Malian political process because we believe that this process is the cornerstone of stability in that country.
Mali needs peace and stability so that refugees can return home; so that human rights can be protected, and public services restored; so that development can advance and justice and security institutions can be reformed to play their essential role.
Yet the security situation in Mali remains extremely fragile.
In the north of the country, clashes involving armed groups have continued despite numerous agreements.
I call on these groups to halt all violence and abide by their commitments to resolve their differences through dialogue.
At the same time, terrorists have continued their attacks against UN peacekeepers and Malian civilians. They have fired rockets towards UN camps, laid mines on roads and launched suicide attacks against blue helmets. They seek to disrupt the political process and prevent the return of normalcy that the north so desperately needs.
I strongly condemn these attacks. I call on all Malian parties to work together to contain these attacks and to bring those responsible to justice.
These attacks will not alter the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian people in their search for peace.
Persistent insecurity only underscores the urgency of a negotiated settlement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fifteen months ago, the Government of Mali and several armed groups signed a preliminary agreement in Ouagadougou that charted the way forward.
Since then, there have been difficult moments. The fighting in Kidal last May was one of them. And there have been hopeful occasions, such as the signing of a roadmap for the talks in Algiers in July.
Negotiations are taking place in Algiers as I speak. Despite an encouraging start, progress has been slow.
I call on all parties to continue engaging with each other in a climate of goodwill and compromise, and to make a serious offer for peace as the Malian population expects and deserves.
I wish to reiterate the importance of inclusiveness. Only a process that is genuinely open to the hopes and concerns of all communities can yield sustainable results.
My appreciation goes to the group of mediators, led by Algeria, of which the United Nations, through my Special Representative, Bert Koenders, is an important member.
The United Nations stands ready to assist in the implementation of the peace agreement that we all hope can result from the Algiers process. We will mobilize our expertise on the political, security, development, justice and reconciliation issues that must be part of that agreement. MINUSMA is ready to play a key role in supporting the implementation of an agreement that is sustainable and inclusive.
Mali needs sustained and coherent support from the international community. We must speak with one voice and we must be persistent during the negotiations, as well as afterwards for the implementation of an agreement.
We must also continue working together on a regional basis. As I noted during my visit to the Sahel region last year, cooperation across regions and institutions is essential to address the [transnational] challenges related to governance, security and resilience. I count on the continuous leadership of Mali, as Chair of the Coordination Platform for the Sahel, to ensure concerted efforts against instability and fragility in the region. Through the implementation of the Sahel Strategy, the United Nations looks forward to working with all its partners in a coordinated fashion for the good of the region.
Thank you for your leadership. Thank you.