Continued and Active Support for Burundi

8/28/2008 // "We must never forget the many small and sometimes important steps that are constantly being made towards consolidation of peace," said Special Envoy for Burundi and the Great Lakes Region, Ambassador Mr. Arild Øyen at the First Biennual Review Meeting for the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding In Burundi 23 June 2008.

Mr. Chairman,

This meeting represents an important step in our combined efforts to consolidate peace in Burundi. For this reason I welcome, like other before me, the presence in our midst of Her Excellency the Minister of External Relations of Burundi, Ms. Antoinette Batumubwira.

As a Special Envoy for my Government for Burundi and the Great Lakes Region, I have been instructed to participate in today’s meeting to demonstrate my Government’s full support of the recommendations adopted at today’s meeting in support of peacebuilding in Burundi.

My Government wishes today also to pledge our full support to the important initiatives taken recently by the Government of Burundi and the Palipehutu-FNL to end hostilities and seek peace. In this connection we take note of the call by the Peacebuilding Commission today that Burundi’s partners do whatever they can to support the present peace process in a concrete way. We trust that the parties themselves will scrupulously adhere to the agreement they have entered into and we would hope that neither party would undertake any action that might be interpreted as being in contravention of the need to move forward.

At the same time we are aware of the call by the Peacebuilding Commision to the international community to assist Burundi in fighting poverty and ensuring socio-economic recovery. We realize that the fight against poverty must be waged as vigorously as we pursue concrete peacebuilding efforts.

With these considerations in mind I have today been instructed by my Government to pledge NOK 100 mill (apprx. USD 20 mill) in budgetary support to Burundi. This figure is based on 60 million NOK  in budgetary support already earmarked for Burundi in this year’s budget plus an additional 40 million NOK as a direct result of the positive political outcome of the recent historical meeting in South Africa between the Government of Burundi, The Palipehutu-FNL and the Special Envoys. This additional budget support from Norway will allow the Government of Burundi to create a safety net to protect vulnerable groups during the crucial period that lies ahead of us. We also hope that other partnercountries will follow our example.

In making this pledge we have been cooperating closely with the IMF and the WB, as well as the Government of the Netherlands, the other co-chair of last year’s Round Table Conference for Burundi. We assume that the necessary procedures will now be put in place in order to ensure rapid disbursement for the benefit of all Burundians in their daily lives.

When discussing the situation in fragile states, it is easy to focus exclusively on problems and challenges. Indeed, they are daunting. Yet, we must never forget the many small and sometimes important steps that are constantly being made towards consolidation of peace. In Burundi both the Government and other national stakeholders including civil society must be commended for all their efforts to follow up in a concrete manner the peacebuilding agenda as established through the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.

In this connection I also wish to commend in particular the Regional Peace Initiative and the South African Facilitation for their indispensable role in support of durable peace in Burundi. This is an exellent example of Africa’s capacity to provide solutions to pressing issues on their own continent.

The Norwegian Government has been pleased to contribute to the work of the Peacebuilding Commission since its inception, and in particular to peace consolidation in Burundi. As Norway is now stepping down from the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, we are submitting our request to continue as a member of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission. While we are relinquishing our chairmanship of the Burundi CSM we pledge our continued and active support for peacebuilding in Burundi, both bilaterally and through multilateral channels. I am consequently looking forward to my next visit to Burundi in my capacity as Special Envoy.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(Check against delivery)

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