NEW YORK, 4 DECEMBER 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3839th MEETING (the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)
As just underlined by the two previous speakers, the representatives of Germany and Italy, the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) has performed its mandate with remarkable effectiveness and success, preventing the spillover of conflict into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from other parts of that volatile region. Now that its tasks have been largely fulfilled, we fully support the Secretary-General's intention to elaborate the next strategy for UNPREDEP and to design an appropriate and effective successor arrangement. Above all, those efforts will seek to maintain the stability afforded by UNPREDEP.
Continued uncertainty, particularly instability in Kosovo, as well as elsewhere in the region, makes it necessary to proceed with caution in the replacement of UNPREDEP. We must keep in mind that UNPREDEP also plays an important role internally due to the fact that it has the confidence and support of all ethnic and political forces. This valuable contribution should not be jeopardized.
According to the Secretary-General, there is a need to observe the effectiveness of UNPREDEP following the reduction of the military component pursuant to Security Council resolution 1110 (1997). Furthermore, the severe winter conditions of the region make it difficult to downsize further the mission before the spring of 1998.
Taking all these considerations into account, Portugal supports the extension of the mandate of UNPREDEP, as recommended by the Secretary-General, but for a longer final period of almost nine months. This will allow the withdrawal of UNPREDEP to be adequately prepared for, and will give the Secretary-General time to look at all the possible options for replacing that Force. We look forward to receiving his recommendations on what type of international presence would be most appropriate after the expiration of UNPREDEP's mandate.
As a sponsor of the resolution before the Council, Portugal will of course be voting in favour of it. As a contributor of personnel to UNPREDEP, Portugal would like to pay tribute to all the military and civilian personnel of UNPREDEP, and thank them for their commitment and hard work.