NEW YORK, 14 NOVEMBER 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3833rd MEETING (the situation in Tajikistan and along the Tajik-Afghan border)
According to the latest report of the Secretary-General, there has been progress in the implementation of the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan. This is welcome news. It is particularly important to note that the Commission on National Reconciliation, on which both the Government of Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) are represented, has now been convened on Tajik soil and has begun its work in earnest.
Other important steps have been taken, which have de-escalated tensions and allowed the return of refugees. There is no substitute for commitment and hard work by the parties to make peace. We encourage both the Government and the UTO actively to continue their efforts to implement fully the General Agreement.
I was particularly happy to hear the representative of Tajikistan state here today that genuine civil peace and concord is irreversible.
The international community in particular, the United Nations has been on hand to help the parties reach this stage and will continue to do so by offering its assistance towards implementing and consolidating peace in Tajikistan.
The Security Council today extends the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan for six months and authorizes an increase in its strength, as recommended by the Secretary-General, in order to carry out the tasks attributed to that United Nations mission. Like others, however, we remain concerned that the security situation is not yet under control, thereby threatening UNMOT and other international personnel as they carry out their activities. We stress that it is the responsibility of the parties to ensure that unarmed United Nations personnel are not put in harm's way, especially when they are striving to help the Tajik people. In this context, we welcome the agreement to form a joint Government/UTO security unit to escort and protect UNMOT, and we urge its rapid establishment.
Also important in this regard is the decision by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to authorize its peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan to provide security to the United Nations on request. While it is the responsibility of the parties to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel in Tajikistan, this decision by the CIS provides an important back-up for their protection.
The CIS peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission, and the States and organizations in the Contact Group have played a crucial role in the international efforts to help peace gain a foothold in Tajikistan. We would like to add our voice to the tributes paid to Mr. Gerd Merrem, and to the men and women of UNMOT and of the United Nations agencies and programmes who are working in Tajikistan under such perilous conditions.
Portugal is pleased to join the consensus in adopting the draft resolution.