Thank you, Mr. President,
I thank Undersecretary-General Lacroix for his comprehensive briefing. Estonia expresses its strong support to the activities of MINUSMA and the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
I would like to focus my intervention today on the following points: the need for the implementation of the Mali Peace Agreement, the deteriorating security situation, and the importance of accountability.
Full implementation of the Peace Agreement remains the basis of the successful political process in Mali. It is the main tool to address the root causes of the conflict and help restore trust between the people of Mali. A crucial aspect in the implementation process is the full, effective and meaningful participation of women and youth. Lasting solution will not be possible without them.
We welcome the holding of the Inclusive National Dialogue that was concluded on December 22. However, the most important part of the process – implementing the conclusions of the National Dialogue – needs to start now. Moreover, it has to support the implementation of the Peace Agreement. We count on the leadership of the Government of Mali and the political will of all parties to take this process forward.
We are following with great concern the reports about negative trends in Mali, especially the further deterioration of the security situation in the centre of the country. The growing number of terrorist attacks on civilians, targeted attacks on military outposts and growing resentment towards international presence are extremely worrying. Only last week, MINUSMA’s base is Kidal was attacked again. These terrorist attacks are simply unacceptable.
We agree that it is important to effectively engage the local community. Their trust and acceptance are crucial for successful MINUSMA mandate implementation and sustainable transition. We commend MINUSMA’s steps taken thus far. However, this remains a key challenge and requires a thorough integrated approach and enhanced cooperation with relevant actors.
Counter-terrorist efforts in Mali require effective cross-border cooperation between the regional and sub-regional organisations, the region’s States and international actors. It is important that Mali and the neighbouring States take full ownership of the fight against terrorism. We welcome the efforts of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and encourage its further operationalisation. Estonia supports the counter-terrorist efforts in the Sahel by contributing to the French-led Barkhane operation. The Estonian Parliament recently decided to double the mandate of our military personnel present in the operation.
Finally, Mr. President, allow me to turn to the question of accountability. Parties involved in grave human rights violations and abuses, those fuelling intercommunal tensions, perpetrators of crimes against civilians as well as peacekeepers must be brought to justice. Continuous and principled fight against impunity will not only hold the perpetrators accountable, but is also a powerful tool in building trust and bridging way to lasting peace.
I thank you!