Round Table Session of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Member States of the Group of Friends of the Great Lakes Region (GLR), New York
On September 16, a session of the Round Table of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Member States of the Group of Friends of the Great Lakes Region (GLR) took place in New York on the fringes of Summit 2005. From Russia as an observer at this meeting, Alexander Yakovenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, took part.
The mere fact of the consideration on the sidelines of Summit 2005 of the situation in the Great Lakes Region is evidence of the unflagging attention the international community pays to improving conditions on the African continent. The Russian Federation gives due credit to the political will of the leaders of the African countries and the activities of the Group of Friends of the GLR.
The meeting was an important step to realizing the goals of the first regional summit of the International Conference on GLR problems, which was held in Dar es Salaam in November 2004. Among poignant issues on the international agenda are such important objectives for this region as safeguarding peace and security, economic development and regional integration; establishing conditions for effective management and democratization; and tackling humanitarian and social problems. It is very important that the summit meeting in Tanzania defined a comprehensive settlement strategy for all those baskets.
A priority task today is the fully adequate implementation of the decisions adopted. This is due to the fact that the settlement process in the Great Lakes Region has encountered very serious difficulties. Overcoming the existing problems calls for the political will of the states located in this part of the continent. Moscow is certain that the experience in dealing with conflict situations that has been tested out in world politics must be drawn upon in this sphere. It is first and foremost about the need to undertake collective efforts to reinforce security, and to develop bilateral and regional cooperation through concluding agreements on nonaggression and collective defense. An adequate response to challenges and threats in the GLR could be the creation of an efficient regional structure for conflict prevention and settlement. The summit in Tanzania made its fundamental contribution to tackling these tasks.
The chief objective at the stage ahead is to adopt viable and realizable decisions which will help to finally overcome the difficulties in the development of this region excruciated by crises. All of this relates directly to the preparatory work that is being carried out for convening the next summit meeting on the problems of the Great Lakes Region, which is scheduled for this upcoming November in Nairobi. At this forum the region's leaders must perform exacting analysis of the implementation of the decisions of the Dar es Salaam Declaration and outline a further strategy for actions.
Russia presumes that developing a full-fledged peace process in this part of Africa and normalizing the situation there has not only a subregional, but also a continental dimension. Active involvement in peacekeeping efforts by the African Union is testimony to this. It is important that this task is the focus of close attention of the United Nations Organization and its Security Council.
A not easy path to dealing with the entire set of tasks of settlement, both in the Great Lakes Region and in other conflict hotbeds of the African continent, is ahead. We are convinced that success in this sector can be achieved through collective actions, including the elaboration of a coordinated international strategy, and by the strengthening of confidence-building measures in the bilateral and multilateral formats. It is the region's countries themselves that must have a decisive say in this.
Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council firmly intends to make its contribution to the efforts of the international community to render comprehensive assistance to the countries of the region in overcoming the existing problems and in safeguarding peace and stability, which will open the way to the sustainable development of the states of this area of Africa.
September 17, 2005