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EU ends peace monitoring program in Aceh
Publication Date : 26-05-2012
The European Union (EU) says that it will continue to support forestry, environmental, climate-change and economic-development programs in Aceh after its seven-year mission to monitor peace in the province ends in June.
“This is the end of the peace-support program, but we’ll still be going on with forestry and reconstruction,” Giovanni Serritella, the EU’s representative in Aceh, said in a ceremony in Banda Aceh on Wednesday.
“We will formally close our office, but will continue to have an active interest in outreach programs in Aceh. We will still keep the dialogue open,” Serritella said.
Serritella made his comments at a ceremony held at the Hotel Hermes Palace, attended by Aceh Governor-elect Zaini Abdullah, Aceh secretary Teuku Setiabudi and former Aceh Reintegration Body chief Yusni Sabi, among others. The EU has also run capacity-building programs for the Aceh Police to support forest preservation and good governance.
The EU-sponsored peace agreement between the government and the separatist Free Aceh Movement ended decades of violence in 2005.
The agreement was brokered by the Crisis Management Initiative under former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, who canceled a planned visit to Aceh for the ceremony.
Serritella said that Aceh had made significant progress toward peace, which was a good sign for the EU to end its mission.
“Today we mark the enduring relationship between the EU and the people of Aceh, and the personal and professional endeavors of many people in Aceh, Jakarta and the wider world that have contributed to a more stable and prosperous future for this province,” he said.
CMI representative Bernhard May also lauded Aceh’s “stable” peace and said that a mediating third party was no longer needed, although the EU would continue to monitor developments in the area.
Serrirella said that the EU would shift its focus to environment, climate-change and economic-
development programs in Aceh.
Forestry programs would also remain on the EU’s agenda, as Aceh’s and Papua’s forests had to be preserved as the “world’s lungs”.
“A good example is our forthcoming support of sustainable-forestry and climate-change programs in Aceh. The EU will back sustainable forestry practices in Aceh and work with all stakeholders to help balance the needs of development and environmental preservation. We look forward to continue working with the incoming administration,” he said.
Amiruddin Usman from the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, extended his gratitude to the EU for its assistance in Aceh development.
“We sincerely thank the EU for their active involvement in reaching peace in Aceh. The peace process has not been easy to reach, but thanks to outside participation, particularly from the EU, peace has prevailed,” Amiruddin said.