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UN2K: Eritrea President Isias Afwerki

Permanent Mission of Eritrea

to the United Nations

Check against delivery

STATEMENT

BY

H.E. MR. ISAIAS AFWERKI

PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF ERITREA

AT THE

MILLENNIUM SUMMIT

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

NEW YORK

8 SEPTEMBER 2000

800 Second Avenue, 18th Floor ‑ New York, NY 10017 ‑ Telephone (212) 687‑3390 ‑ Telefax (212) 687‑3138 ‑ e‑mail:eriun@undp.org

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary General

Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,

Honourable Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I pay tribute to the Secretary General for taking the necessary steps to convene this Millehium Summit.

The advent of the new Millenium occurs at a crucial time. Globalisation and rapid advances in information technology offer humankind vast, unprecedented, opportunities to improve the quality of life. Yet this opportunity may also be fraught with undesirable consequences. It may exacerbate marginalisation and induce a widening of the technological gap in our global village. Thus, the need for harnessing the forces of globalization by fostering a deep sense of communality, international cooperation and human solidarity.

In this context, the Millenium Declaration becomes an important milestone in further broadening and deepening international cooperation and solidarity in coming years.

Excellencies,

Your Excellencies are aware that my people have been forced to shoulder the burden of along and costly war for almost half of the past century. It has taken the sacrifice of two generations to get rid of colonial occupation in order to enjoy the benefits of independence and freedom. Yet, only a short time after its hard‑won independence, my country is at present forced to once again defend its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.

This unnecessary war has resulted in untold human suffering, the destruction of life, property and infrastructure, deportations and displacement of innocent civilians, as well as the violation of several provisions of the existing human rights and humanitarian laws.

Excellencies, ,

I have no intention to dwell on the conflict that has wrecked havoc to our region. Yet, the conflict impacts on the core values enshrined in the UN Charter, and re‑affirmed in the Summit Declaration, regarding respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States; the sovereign equality of all member States; non‑interference in the internal affairs of any State; and, the resolution of disputes by peaceful means.

It is gratifying to note that, because of the efforts exerted by the United Nations, the OAU, as well as other regional organizations and States of good will, the conflict has halted and an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities signed in Algiers. In this respect, I wish to express my Government's gratitude to all our partners, in particular to the Government of Algeria, the African Governments involved in the OAU peace process, the United States Government and the European Union who have done so much to promote peace.

My Government is also gratified by the good will that has been demonstrated and wishes to thank all those who have already pledged to contribute troops or other appropriate support to the UN peacekeeping mission.

Excellencies,

The most daunting task facing our societies is the elimination of poverty and the creation of an enabling environment for steady and sustainable development. Multi‑faceted support from our development partners, and appropriate institutional adjustments that are being contemplated to enhance the effectiveness of this support, will be vital in overcoming . these challenges. But these injections, however robust, will not guarantee sustainable development unless they are accompanied by our own vigorous efforts.

In this respect, my Government believes that primary focus should revolve on human resources development: in the broadest sense of the term. This is

not a simple matter of rapid skill development but includes a host of social and political measures which impact on each other.

We need to narrow the urban/rural gap in our own societies so as not to create pockets of affluence and privilege in a sea of rural poverty.

We must evolve appropriate forms of decentralization and devolution to enhance grass‑root participation in decision‑making, and, to maintain cultural diversity in a framework of national unity.

We need to introduce and develop, if necessary through short‑term affirmative action, meaningful measures to empower women in order to ensure their all‑round participation at all levels of our national development. We need to eliminate killer diseases ‑ Malaria, HIV, etc. ‑ which affect vast segments of our deprived societies.

We need to eliminate official corruption, foster a culture of accountability, and cultivate the values and institutions for enduring democracy and constitutionality.

We have made remarkable strides towards achieving these goals and aspirations, although the current conflict has affected the pace of the progress underway. But even in the best of circumstances, we recognize that these aims cannot be achieved in a short haul.

There is thus the need to see these interconnected goals as processes rather than quantifiable measures that can be achieved within very tight, specified, time frames. Above all, we have to see these goals and aspirations as joint­venture engagements. The fact is there is a communality of views and shared values with our development partners. To the extent that there are differences, they are matters of timing or of a methodological nature, which are not problematic in themselves.

Thank you.


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