NEW YORK, 10 JANUARY 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3730th MEETING (Agenda: efforts towards peace in Central America)
Portugal has for centuries had very strong ties to Central America. It is therefore with particular satisfaction that my country welcomed the signing in Guatemala City on 29 December of the final peace Agreement between the representatives of the Government and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca. We believe that peace, national reconciliation and economic development are now within the grasp of the Guatemalan people.
This final Agreement, in conjunction with the agreements signed in Madrid, Mexico, Oslo and Stockholm, will lead to the end of the domestic conflict in Guatemala, which has been the longest in Central America.
The consequences of this Agreement are not limited to Guatemala. They have a particular meaning in the context of the overall process underway in Central America, and they can become an important contribution to the cause of peace, democracy, stability and economic development in the region.
In recent years, the United Nations has played a very important role in Guatemala. I would also like to pay tribute today to the patient and constructive efforts of the Secretary-General, the Group of Friends of the Guatemalan Peace Process, the United Nations system as a whole, and to all other international agencies which have supported and continue to support the peace process.
It is our hope that democracy and respect for human rights will continue to be consolidated in Guatemala. Portugal is gratified by these developments and also wishes to convey its special thanks to the men and women whom make up the United Nations Mission for the Verification of Human Rights and of Compliance with the Commitments of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights in Guatemala (MINUGUA). Since November 1994, when the Mission was established as part of the framework of the peace negotiations, they have verified the respect for the overall Agreement on Human Rights in Guatemala which was signed by the parties, as well as some aspects of the agreement on the identity and rights of indigenous peoples, which is of fundamental importance.
The presence of MINUGUA was essential in putting in place a peace process whose purpose was to put an end to a conflict that had beset the people of Guatemala for the past 35 years. MINUGUA has played an indispensable and exemplary role in the restoration of law and order and respect for human rights in this country. We hope that henceforth all the national minorities will be able to participate fully in building a free and democratic society in Guatemala where social justice becomes a reality.
Portugal feels that the international community has the duty to respond positively to the requests of the two Guatemalan parties, by providing adequate means to verify the ceasefire, the separation of forces and the disarmament and demobilization of the forces of the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca. It is therefore a matter of helping and encouraging the parties to respect their commitments under the agreements they have signed.
The adoption of the draft resolution before us, which Portugal has co-sponsored, would be an essential contribution to peace and to national reconciliation and would be a follow-on to the recommendations in the report of the Secretary-General.
One cannot overestimate the primary responsibility and the
fundamental role which either the Government or the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca must continue to discharge in order to honour the mutual commitments they made to pursue the long-term consolidation of peace, democracy and stability in the country.
Portugal firmly believes that the peace process in Guatemala is an example to be followed by peoples and countries in similar situations throughout the world. We are certain that the two parties and the people of Guatemala will both be up to this challenge.