NEW YORK, 27 JANUARY 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3850th MEETING (the situation in Angola)
Portugal has been following recent developments in Angola with a sense of cautious optimism that was confirmed by the statement of the Permanent Representative of Angola. The new timetable for the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol, approved by the Joint Commission on 9 January, should be a meaningful step towards the normalization of the political and military situation in Angola.
However, it could be said that we should avoid holding overly high expectations, not only because of the difficult nature of the tasks which remain incomplete, but also because of the relatively short time in which they must be fulfilled. After all, we have to bear in mind that the Angolan peace process has proceeded far more slowly than had been expected three years ago, when the Lusaka Protocol was signed. That is the reality. But the new timetable is nevertheless our best shot at trying to reinvigorate the peace process. Without the speedy completion of the remaining tasks, peace in Angola will not become a reality.
The recipe for political stability in Angola is well known. On the part of UNITA, it is imperative that it facilitate the normalization of State administration in the areas it controls, including its headquarters in Andulo and Bailundo. UNITA must also transform Radio Vorgan into a non-partisan broadcasting facility, thus dismantling the remains of its propaganda-war machine. And last but not least, UNITA must demilitarize fully. Nothing short of this is acceptable. Portugal is therefore concerned by reports that UNITA continues to regroup its military elements in some areas of Angola. This type of behaviour is incompatible with its necessary transformation into a political party.
On the part of the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, there is a responsibility to ensure that the rule of law reigns throughout Angola and that the fundamental principles of democratic societies, including human rights, are fully respected. This is vitally important in the long run, and is also essential to establish right away the climate of confidence and trust in Government that is required to overcome the culture of violence that so many years of war have left behind in Angola.
In this context, the long-awaited meeting in Angola between President José Eduardo dos Santos and Mr. Jonas Savimbi could be seen as a catalyst for the successful conclusion of the peace process. The Portuguese Government fully shares the view of the Secretary-General, as stated in his latest report on the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), that this meeting could enhance mutual confidence and contribute significantly to the prospects for national reconciliation, reconstruction of the country and movement towards democracy.
The victory of peace over war in Angola still depends, to a large extent, on the support of the international community. It is disappointing to know that the response to the 1997 consolidated inter-agency appeal for Angola generated only 44 per cent of the funds required. The same could be said about the fact that only 7 out of the 18 Angolan demining brigades are now operational, due to shortages of both equipment and funds from national and international sources. Similarly, demobilization has also been negatively affected by the lack of international support.
Portugal believes that additional international assistance is required in order to enable the Angolan Government and UNITA to walk this last mile for peace. In this context, we would like to draw attention to paragraph 10 of the draft resolution, which urges the international community to provide assistance for demobilization and the social reintegration of ex-combatants, demining, the resettlement of displaced persons and the rehabilitation of the Angolan economy. Full cooperation with the 1998 consolidated inter-agency appeal for Angola, currently being finalized, would be equally important. Extending the mandate of MONUA along the lines proposed by the Secretary-General is a step in the right direction. The comprehensive report requested by the Security Council in paragraph 3 of the draft resolution will be instrumental in this context, by assessing the implementation of the timetable agreed upon by the Government of Angola and UNITA and approved by the Joint Commission.
The proposed continuation of the United Nations presence in Angola after April 30 fully deserves our agreement, and we look forward to studying carefully the preliminary recommendations in this regard that the Secretary-General will in time submit to the Security Council. Let me also seize this opportunity to pay tribute to the work that has been done, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, by the United Nations personnel, as well as to the tireless efforts of the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Maître Alioune Beye.
The presence in MONUA of 352 Portuguese the largest contingent after that of Zimbabwe is a practical expression of the confidence Portugal has in a successful outcome of the peace process in Angola. We are ready to be patient in assisting the people of Angola to cross the bridge to stability, democracy and economic development. But we also have to point out that the Angolan Government, and UNITA in particular, must present us, in the next few weeks, with renewed proof of their true commitment to respect their mutual obligations. Full compliance with the new timetable would show us that commitment to peace.