My delegation has aligned itself with the EU Statement, but in view of the special significance to my country of the item under discussion, I would like to make a few additional remarks.
At the outset, I would like to extend our appreciation for the excellent thorough Report prepared by the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan and to commend him for the special importance he personally and the Secretariat attach to the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. His recommendations merit the most serious consideration and support by the international community.
Cyprus considers the discussion at the Security Council as a good opportunity for refocusing the attention and commitment of the International Community towards strengthening peace and security and supporting Africa’s endeavours for economic and social development.
It is universally acknowledged that “development is indispensable to the achievement and maintenance of peace and security both within and among nations and that without development there can be neither peace nor security”. We believe that Africa with its talented people and vast fertile lands has the capability of facing the challenge and emerging as a significant factor in the world of economic and political affairs of the next century.
Cyprus welcomes the positive developments in the political field taking place across Africa. We have been encouraged by the democratization process and the efforts of African countries in the field of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We have also rejoiced at the termination of the abhorrent policy of Apartheid, which constituted an affront to human civilization, and at the creation of a democratic and multiracial South Africa. We note in this respect the contribution of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest figures of the 20th century whose struggle inspired people of good will worldwide to fight for freedom, human dignity and reconciliation.
A major concern of the international community is, however, the alarming number of armed conflicts, mostly internal, in the continent which in addition to endangering peace and stability cause extreme suffering. Our special preoccupation, in view of similar bitter experiences since 1974, is the plight of more than eight million refugees and displaced persons.
At the same time we note that, despite progress in some African countries, serious economic problems still persist. Noting the courage and burden of African countries, in pursuit of economic reform, we believe that the international community should redouble its efforts for alleviating the suffering of millions of people in the continent. Special attention should be given to debt relief and to the needs of the Least Developed Countries and those other African countries that are in danger of marginalization, as a result of globalization.
Economic development and social justice need to be addressed as a matter of high priority, in order to enable Africa to meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities which have emerged internationally during the recent years.
My country, located at the cross-roads of three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa, has long been a bridge of cooperation in the region. Being so close to Africa, not only geographically but also in terms of sharing the same objectives, we have always had strong ties with the African peoples especially in our common goal to implement the provisions of the UN Charter which has always been a major factor of our policy since our independence.
These special bonds were forged already during the Decolonization era and by the presence of Cypriot communities in many African countries.
Cyprus, with its potential, has been consistently offering assistance to African countries. In particular, the Cyprus government is providing scholarships for graduate and post-graduate programs especially in the fields of tourism, management, forestry and nursing. Recently, special attention is given to scholarships of short-term duration in areas where Cyprus has comparative advantages and experience. We have also participated in election monitoring in some African countries.
We pledge our continued support to the efforts of the international community, in solidarity with Africa, for strengthening peace, cooperation, and development in the continent.
Thank you, Mr. President.