Russian foreign policy
Russian policy in Africa
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     Statement by the Representative of the Russian Federation at the UN Security Council Open Meeting on the Situation in West Africa, May 14, 2001

     May 16, 2001

     The Russian Federation is deeply concerned by the not simple situation that has developed in the sub-region of West Africa, and particularly the explosive situation in the area of Guinea's border with Liberia and Sierra Leone. Russia supports the efforts being made by ECOWAS to settle this problem on a basis of good-neighborly relations, renunciation of the use of force, and elaboration of agreed political measures to suppress the activity of armed rebel groups within the territories of these states. Solving this problem would enable advancing substantially along the road to removing the humanitarian crisis now threatening the peaceful population of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which would create conditions for safe refugee return. A personal meeting of the leaders of the Mano River Union States could play an indispensable role in attaining this goal. Deploying an ECOMOG contingent in areas of most vigorous actions of the illegal armed groups, we think, could also serve the promotion of trust in the sub-region. Furthermore, we believe that such an operation should be based on the consent of all the states in whose territories it will be conducted, and also, if its mandate includes a force component, on powers approved by the UN SC. Generally Russia advocates stronger coordination of efforts by the UN and ECOWAS at resolving the situation in West Africa, including conflict prevention and suppression. In this connection we are impressed by the proposals on that account, contained in the report of the Interagency Mission to West Africa.

     Of course, the conflict in Sierra Leone still remains the most destabilizing element of the situation in West Africa. We appreciate the efforts of the UNAMSIL leaders and staff for its resolution and note that a perceptible turn for the better has become evident in this field recently. We think this shows the correctness of the SC-approved strategy that combines military pressure on the Revolutionary United Front with the encouragement of the process of a political settlement of the conflict. We see the calls for a retreat from this strategy, capable of only pouring oil on the flames of the armed conflict in the sub-region, as reckless. As settlement progresses and control by the state administration expands on the territory currently in rebel hands, we expect from the government of Sierra Leone a more active fulfillment of the program of disarmament, demilitarization and the reintegration of ex-combatants with the support of these efforts from UNAMSIL. In principle we share the arguments in favor of a zonal approach to solving the RDR problem and other aspects of post-conflict peacebuilding in the Mano River Union States area, cited in the report of the Interagency Mission. At the same time we have doubts as to the advisability of expanding the mandate of UNAMSIL through extending its operation to the territories of all three states of this Union, primarily because of the multi-faceted character of the problems existing in them. The course for increasing the coordination of efforts by the international community with the key role of the sub-regional structures of West Africa appears to us more preferable.

     Of key importance to resolving the conflict in Sierra Leone is compliance by Liberia in all respects with the demands of the Security Council to end support of the RUF, contained in Resolution 1343. I will stress it - support precisely, rather than contacts with the Sierra Leonean rebels within the framework of collective efforts to induce them to peace. This is the exact purpose of the sanctions against Liberia, and the corresponding steps by its authorities would be appreciated by the Council. We note the statement of Monrovia about the measures taken in furtherance of Resolution 1343 and about its intention to continue cooperation with the SC. We consider justified the recommendations of ECOWAS for establishing a mechanism of control over the implementation of the sanctions and compliance by Liberia with the Security Council demands.

     In the context of the implementation of Resolution 1343 we are calling on all the States to abide in full by the demands contained in it, that they prevent the use of their territories by armed persons and groups to prepare and carry out attacks against neighbor countries and that they renounce any actions that might help to destabilize further the situation on the borders among Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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