Madame High Commissioner,

Let me first of all congratulate you personally and the distinguished guests of today=s session for the strong commitment shown to those in need of protection and assistance, in those parts of South Eastern Europe still torn by crises and conflict. We are grateful for the way UNHCR has understood its important role in promoting stability and in being part of the comprehensive arrangements in this region.

Madame High Commissioner,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are all very well aware of the fact that tremendous challenges still face the international community in order to overcome the post-conflict situations and insure a positive trend in terms of inter-ethnic relations, economic recovery and confidence within the societies of the former Yugoslav area. There is obviously great need for continued support and active involvement of the relevant international actors, if real and lasting peace is to be achieved.

As we have entered a new phase of developments since the end of open conflicts, the international community must now focus, in a comprehensive inter-institutional approach, on the basic needs of the region. This includes, certainly, the safe return of refugees and displaced persons, assistance for sustainable social and economic development, as well as democratic institution building.

Peace can only be won if the level of commitment of the international community is maintained and carried through in this direction.

Indeed, refugee issues are not only a part of the problem. They are a part of the solutions to be implemented. Therefore, we commend the institutional partnerships established with UNHCR participation. We also support the enhancement of activities carried out by the newly established working group on refugees within the Stability Pact, which can add to the concrete results produced by the return schemes already in place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

During this difficult period for the entire region, Romania has responded wholeheartedly, in accordance with its international political and moral obligations and its resources, to the appeals launched by the international community. Refugees have been hosted in public facilities provided by the Government, as well as in private accommodations arranged by Romanian individuals and non-governmental organizations. The Romanian people and Government have also delivered humanitarian aid and financial assistance to those in need after the dramatic developments in former Yugoslavia and in Kosovo.

In the very midst of the refugee crisis, while Romania was exercising the Presidency of the South Eastern European Cooperation Process, a number of political and diplomatic actions were initiated in order to promote concrete forms of cooperation and burden-sharing among the countries in the vicinity of the conflict area.

As an expression of this, in February this year, a Charter for Stability, Security, Cooperation and Good Neighborly Relations in South Eastern Europe was signed in Bucharest, at the level of Heads of States and Governments. It reaffirms the will of the peoples throughout the region to uphold the principles and values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and to consolidate international cooperation, with the aim of opening a new era of economic recovery and sustainable development in this part of Europe.

From the outset, Romania also supported the action and the objectives set forth by the Stability Pact. Romania is determined to do its utmost to contribute to achieving its goals for the region, by actively participating in the development of the relevant programs that seek comprehensive and lasting solutions to the refugee problems.

Madame High Commissioner,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The present session of the Humanitarian Issues Working Group of the Peace Implementation Council and the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe is an important moment for objective examination of the hard work being done, but also a moment for re-affirmation of our joint commitment to pursue the established goals and reach the much needed consolidation of peace in the region. As we have seen from the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner, a number of concrete results have been attained, but much more remains to be done in order to further the undeniable yet partial achievements in this respect. We believe the UNHCR has to continue its strenuous efforts in South-Eastern Europe together with all the other international actors embarked upon this historic exercise of inter-institutional, inter-Governmental and inter-national cooperation.

As you are aware, Romania is preparing to undertake, in a few months time, the presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In this new capacity, my country is determined to develop a close cooperation with UNHCR and other relevant political and security organizations, interested governments and the non-governmental community and to work together on the regional scene in order to dissipate and reverse the negative effects of the humanitarian disasters of this past decade. We are confident that the partnership with UNHCR in addressing further these issues will remain an important part of the institutional cooperation in this part of Europe. Thank you.

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