NEW YORK, 16 APRIL 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3769th MEETING (the situation in Angola)
The President: I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Portugal.
As the representative of the Netherlands has already done on behalf of the European Union, Portugal welcomes the recent developments in the political situation in Angola. The Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, and the swearing-in ceremony of the UNITA members of Parliament, are paving the way for a successful conclusion of the Angolan peace process.
As the Secretary-General stated in his progress report on the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III), last week's events could well become a milestone in the history of Angola. The Government of Unity and National Reconciliation is a fundamentally important political confidence-building measure. We look forward to all members of that Government working together towards the unity of Angola and the reconciliation of the Angolan people. In fact, the Government will be an essential tool in facilitating the implementation of the remaining tasks of the peace process.
Being close to peace does not necessarily translate into a consolidated peace. We must not deceive ourselves: peace and prosperity are now within reach of all Angolans, but they cannot yet be taken for granted. The remains of the past still persist in Angola, and it is crucial to learn from mistakes. Therefore, the message we must now send to all Angolans, and in particular to those who have subscribed to the peace agreements, is a very simple one: they must believe in the peace process and act accordingly, with an open heart, an open mind, and without any misgivings.
In this context, a meeting within the territory of Angola between President José Eduardo dos Santos and Mr. Jonas Savimbi would show the international community that the political situation in that country is really changing for the better. We hope that the recent approval by the National Assembly of the special status of Mr. Savimbi will facilitate that long-awaited meeting.
Other vitally important steps include the completion of the remaining military aspects of the peace process, including the selection and incorporation of UNITA soldiers into the Angolan Armed Forces and demobilization, and the extension of State administration throughout the national territory. Portugal urges the Government and UNITA to complete those tasks expeditiously. They must go that extra mile for peace. We want to believe that such steps will be taken, but the Security Council will have to remain actively seized of the matter to ensure that they are.
Portugal considers national reconciliation to mean not only national unity, but national unity in a democracy. These targets must not be separated. A vibrant democracy is a precondition for peace and stability, and these elements will enable the international community to assist the economic rehabilitation of Angola.
Peace, prosperity and democracy are the separate threads that will unite Angola in a joint destiny. My country is ready to maintain its assistance programmes in the political, social, economic and humanitarian fields, so long as they result from the will of the Angolan Government. For the same reasons, we also welcome the United Nations consolidated inter-agency appeal for Angola, covering the period from January to December 1997. My delegation also associates itself with the statement made earlier by the European Union, stressing its willingness to cooperate actively in the reconstruction of a reconciled Angola.
Looking ahead, the Portuguese Government fully agrees with the recommendation of the Secretary-General that the Council approve the extension of UNAVEM's mandate until 30 June 1997, on the understanding that the operation would proceed gradually towards an observer mission which would focus basically on political, humanitarian and human rights aspects. We also share his view that the international community should remain engaged in Angola until the goal of the full implementation of the Lusaka Protocol is achieved.
Allow me also to underline the importance of the recent visit of the Secretary-General to Angola, which injected new vigour into the process, strengthening the remarkable efforts made by his Special Representative, Maître Beye, supported by the observer countries. The results of his visit are evident.
Portugal has consistently argued, in international forums and in its bilateral contacts, against direct and indirect military intervention in Angola. Respect for the sovereignty of States is a cardinal principle of Portuguese foreign policy. The Angolan people paid a very heavy toll for these interventions. Therefore, we call upon the Angolans to proceed in such a way as to contribute always to regional peace and stability.
Before concluding, I must state the obvious: the present situation in Angola offers the Angolan people the prospect of a fresh start; but it also constitutes a new challenge to its collective will and determination. Recent events have shown that the seeds of peace which were sown with the agreements signed in Lisbon and by the Lusaka Protocol will finally bear fruit.
I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.