Thank you Mr. President, for organising this important briefing.
2. I too, welcome Her Excellency Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, back to the Council and thank her for her statement.
3. Malaysia reaffirms its full support to strengthen cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations under Chapter VIII (8) of the UN Charter. As an established regional organisation with shared values and principles as the UN, we highly value the role played by the EU in promoting peace, stability and development in its region and beyond.
4. We listened carefully to Her Excellency Mogherini’s update on the role played by the EU in the Middle East Quartet, including its participation in the international conference in Paris last week. Malaysia welcomes the constructive and objective role played by the EU as a member of the Quartet. We would like to see a more active role by the EU in this regard, including as an honest broker, in view of the absence of leadership and political will in the Council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
5. As one of the most important and influential regional organisations, we believe the EU could pave the way in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by using the tools at its disposal to end decades of impunity and ensure adherence to international law, freedom, and respect for human rights, which are core values of the EU. In view of the deteriorating situation on the ground and the slow death of the two-state solution, we need to move away from the previous practice of managing the conflict to addressing its root causes. We need to end the repressive Israeli occupation.
6. Meanwhile, in facing other complex challenges in the Middle East region, such as Syria and Libya, we commend the strong support provided by the EU on the UN-led political dialogue in both countries.
7. The massive humanitarian crises arising from the influx of migrants and refugees from Syria and Libya proved too challenging for any one organisation or country to handle alone. We thus applaud the critical role played by the EU in supporting Syrian refugees, whether within the EU’s territories or in other host countries in the Middle East, through its migration policy and humanitarian aid. The latest pledge by the EU amounting to over USD3 billion at the London Donors Conference last February, is yet another example of the EU’s commitment to address the migration crisis in the Mediterranean. On this note, Malaysia looks up to the EU’s vast experience and expertise in dealing with migrants and refugees, to address the related problems of human trafficking and people smuggling in the Southeast Asian region.
8. Since the Council last convened to discuss cooperation with the EU, we had witnessed shocking terrorist attacks in Europe by Da’esh. Our heartfelt condolences go the families and loved ones of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.
9. No one is truly safe from terror attacks, regardless of one’s race, nationality, religion, or belief. It is thus, our responsibility to strengthen our joint resolve in combating this menace. In this regard, Malaysia welcomes the comprehensive strategy adopted by the EU to counter the global threats of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation. The strategy seeks to address not just the symptoms of terrorism but also its root causes. It also recognises that military action alone is not sufficient to defeat Da’esh, as it addresses the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, cuts off terrorist financing, promotes political stability and engages in strategic counter-messaging.
10. As part of a comprehensive strategy to counter violent extremism and radicalisation, we also need to address the increasing sentiment of Islamophobia, which has given rise to marginalisation, alienation, and discrimination of Muslims in Europe, on the basis of their religion.
11. Muslim minorities in Europe should not be pressured to be “less Muslim” in order to be “more European”. They should not become “double victims” – first of terror attacks and then of policy responses to these attacks.
12. We acknowledge the EU’s attempts to deal with the problem of Islamophobia, as part of its broader response to xenophobia in the region. We believe policies based on more dialogue, social-economic inclusion and non-discrimination in support of minority groups would complement the EU’s counter-terrorism strategy and bring long-term benefits to Europe’s pluralistic societies.
13. In the Western Balkans region, we highly appreciate the stabilising role played by the EU, particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. We commend the active participation by the High Representative in facilitating the ongoing dialogue to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia. We also fully support the continuing role by the EU in further strengthening the democratic institutions, the rule of law and the process of reconciliation, as well as in creating a functioning market economy in the Western Balkans.
14. In Malaysia’s view, if there is a single most important lesson from post-World War II Europe for the Western Balkans, it is the need to acknowledge and address the past. We strongly believe that this would be the best way to move forward towards peace, stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans.
15. It may be difficult to swallow, but unless and until we acknowledge the atrocities committed in the past, uphold accountability, and learn from the mistakes made, we would find ourselves unable to find closure, foster reconciliation and make progress in the region. Even worse, we may be condemned to repeat the past.
16. On Africa, we commend the role and contribution by the EU, in close partnership with the UN and the African Union, particularly in the Sahel region, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Horn of Africa. Over the years, the EU has provided a stabilising presence in these regions, ranging from conflict prevention to conflict management, post-conflict transition and sustainable development.
17. Closer to home, Malaysia welcomes the recent intensification of the EU’s engagement with Myanmar, in support of the country’s democratic transition and sustainable development. These include the EU-Myanmar bilateral development cooperation under the Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 and the EU’s support for the Myanmar Peace Center to provide technical support in implementing the ceasefire, as well as promoting political dialogue, reconciliation, and peacebuilding.
18. In concluding, Malaysia welcomes the reaffirmation by High Representative of the EU to continue its close cooperation with the UN in upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. As we have heard today, the EU has a lot to offer through its specific expertise, wide experience, and pooled resources to complement and support the role of the UN in facing various global challenges.
19. I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate Malaysia’s commitment to play a constructive role in further engaging with regional organisations, including the EU, in maintaining international peace and security.
I thank you, Mr. President.