NEW YORK, 27 FEBRUARY 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3743rd MEETING (Agenda on the situation in Angola)
Portugal has reason to believe that the Angolan peace process shows positive signs. Although there has been slow progress in certain areas, one cannot speak of stagnation. In fact, the ceasefire is holding, and the Government of Angola and UNITA are showing that they remain committed to political dialogue. However, both parties, and in particular UNITA, must now also indicate clearly to the international community that they are willing to abide by the agreements to which they freely subscribed. This has been essentially a stop-and-go process. The Security Council, in its presidential statement of 30 January 1997, reminded UNITA and the Government of Angola that the international community can only provide assistance if progress is achieved in the peace process, and that it is in this context that it will consider a United Nations presence in Angola after the expiration of the mandate of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III).
Significant and crucial tasks in both military and political aspects of the peace process remain unfulfilled and are behind schedule. In fact, over the last two weeks, since the publication of the report of the Secretary-General, no significant moves have been made in the selection and incorporation of UNITA personnel into the Angolan Armed Forces, in the closure of quartering areas, in the process of demobilization and in the extension of State administration throughout the entire territory of Angola. Recent reports that the procedures concerning demobilization and the extension of the administration have been agreed upon by the Government of Angola and UNITA are, however, encouraging. On the other hand, and despite the agreement reached in the Joint Commission, UNITA failed to send to Luanda by 12 February all of its members with seats in the National Assembly and all those designated to take part in the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation. In fact, UNITA bears a special responsibility to demonstrate its commitment to the full implementation of the Acordos de Paz and the Lusaka Protocol, without attempting to establish new conditions or linkages.
The Security Council has before it a draft resolution extending the mandate of UNAVEM III, this time until 31 March. This gives the parties one month to move the peace process forward by completing the remaining tasks, no more, no less.
The complexity of the issues in the Angolan peace process require some flexibility on the part of the international community. Today, at a time when UNAVEM III should be completing its mission, we recognize that the United Nations must continue its current mandate in support of the peace process. We fully agree with the view expressed in the most recent report of the Secretary-General that the pace of the planned withdrawal of formed military units should take into account the situation on the ground. We must not lose sight of the fact that the United Nations plays a vital role in bringing peace to Angola.
The peace process in Angola has reached a crossroads. This resolution indicates clearly the way to proceed. The remaining tasks under the Acordos de Paz and the Lusaka Protocol must be completed within the next month. We appeal to all concerned to take the right path and lead the weary Angolan people to a brighter future. Allow me to reaffirm how much we appreciate the remarkable work of Mr. Beye, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. We pay tribute to his untiring efforts on the ground, and we thank him in particular for travelling to New York to brief the Council. His presence here has been enlightening and informative. His commitment to peace in Angola and his faith in the process make us all more confident that our efforts will succeed.
This is in accordance with a sentence that the distinguished representative of the Angolan Government, General Higino Carneiro, spoke just a few minutes ago: the path to peace seems irreversible.
We all hope so.