I naturally welcome the presence of the President of the Republic of Djibouti, Mr. Ismail Omar Guelleh. The French delegation has taken note with much interest of his analysis, while the situation in the Horn of Africa remains very unstable.
Fighting has stopped in Ras Doumeira and Doumeira Island, but almost two years after Eritrea’s attack on Djibouti positions, not only is the conflict still unresolved, but the Djibouti authorities have no news of the soldiers captured by Eritrea. On 12 June 2008, the Security Council condemned Eritrea’s military actions and asked the two parties to withdraw their forces to the positions of the status quo ante. While Djibouti did this immediately, Eritrea still refuses to do so, in spite of the adoption of resolution 1862 (2009) on January 2009 and then, under Chapter VII of the Charter, of resolution 1907 (2009) last December. To date, Asmara has rejected any international mission to the area.
The Council thus raised the pressure on Eritrea, which was hit with an arms embargo and individual sanctions. The Secretary-General is ready to appoint experts to the Monitoring Group working on sanctions for Somalia and Eritrea. We eagerly await their recommendations in the sanctions Committee, as well as the report on the implementation of resolution 1907 (2009) that the Secretary-General will present to the Council in June.
It is urgent that the situation on the ground be settled peacefully and, beyond that, that the two countries resolve their border disputes in a sustainable and peaceful way.
The Eritrean authorities have sent a series of positive signals in the past few weeks, such as their reception of the Chairman of the sanctions Committee, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller. It is essential that Eritrea set no preconditions to settling its problem with Djibouti and that it moves from words to deeds. France encourages all efforts towards dialogue and mediation pursuant to the Security Council’s resolutions, which require, inter alia, the return of Eritrean forces to the status quo ante.
I also thank President Guelleh for the information he has given to the Council on the situation in Somalia. While the Istanbul Conference will open in a few days, the Somali Government must come together, under the authority of President Sharif, and deepen the political dialogue.
Like the Ambassador of Uganda, I should like here to pay a tribute to President Guelleh for Djibouti’s essential role in seeking a solution to the Somali crisis. The political agreement that is the key to the reconciliation process was negotiated in Djibouti. It is on Djiboutian territory that the Djibouti and French forces have begun to train Somali soldiers. Djibouti has thus facilitated the training operation for 2,000 soldiers that the European Union is launching this month, in close cooperation with the African Union Mission in Somalia. Beyond the political events of the last few days, the most important thing is that the Transitional Federal Government continues to strengthen itself militarily so as to be able to provide the Somali people with the basic services they need. Finally, as we all know, Djibouti is playing a decisive role in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia.
France hopes that the Council will continue to closely follow this situation and would like to thank the Special Representative Ould Abdallah for his efforts.