We thank Special Envoy Xia and Ambassador Šimonović for their informative briefings. We also welcome the participation of the representatives of Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC to this meeting.
Ten years after the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, a crucial instrument for achieving peace and stability in the region, Albania is profoundly concerned about the deterioration of the security situation, despite the relative calm in recent days. It has seriously eroded progress on regional cooperation and economic integration.
The heightened tensions between the DRC and Rwanda can trigger a spiral of irreversible consequences.
Albania urges both parties to restrain from blaming each other and come to a reasonable settlement of disputes within the existing regional mechanisms.
No military strategy can solve the long-standing grievances. Armed groups, that had already chosen to disarm, have regrettably taken up arms again, forming new alliances and enemies. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC must be respected and any support for M23 must stop.
We take note of the partial withdrawal of this group from some areas in North Kivu and call for a complete retreat from all controlled territories. We also repeat our call for all Congolese groups to participate in the disarmament process and for foreign armed groups to immediately leave the country.
In particular, groups like ADF, CODECO and Zaire have used the vacuum left by the Congolese security forces to gain a stronghold in these areas by way of attacks against the civilians fleeing their homes. Indeed, the number of refugees and displaced persons all over the region is alarmingly high. States of the region should spare no efforts in assuming a comprehensive and sustainable approach to enable their return and improve their living conditions.
Albania sees the Luanda and Nairobi processes as complementary and crucial to politically defuse regional tensions and bring armed groups to the negotiating table. As such, both processes should be supported, while the states of the region should renew their commitment to fully implement the PSC Framework. In this vein, the 11th Summit of the Regional Oversight Mechanism, postponed in May, should be an opportunity not to be squandered.
The missions conducted by the Operational Cell and Coordination Group in South Kivu and Ituri Provinces are critical steps in building a pathway towards disarmament and repatriation of more members of foreign armed groups in the eastern DRC.
We have repeatedly advocated that the region cannot find peace without dealing with the underlying sources of the conflict. The illicit exploitation of natural resources is a fundamental one, allowing armed groups to finance their horrors.
We have followed the outcomes of the meeting of the Regional Committee on the Fight against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources, in November, and encourage regional, transit and destination countries, to reinforce their cooperation on curbing the illicit trade by improving transparency and monitoring of the whole supply chain.
Last, we confirm our support for the Special Envoy, and commend him for his leading efforts in implementing the United Nations Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes Region, as well as for its Action Plan.