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'Non-Aligned Movement Needed More Than Ever'

by Felipe Pérez Roque

Speech by Cuban Foreign Minister at the inauguration of the 14th Non-Aligned Movement Summit, 11 September 2006, in Havana.

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of our people and government I give you the most cordial welcome to Havana and wish you a happy and fruitful stay in our country.

We are receiving you in the midst of the renewed effort our people are making to confront difficulties and, in particular, to overcome the cruel policy of isolation and blockade to which we have been subjected for more than 45 years.

We pay tribute to the magnificent work developed in the Presidency of the Movement by Malaysia, whose undertaking and commitment will serve as an example for our future work. I can confirm that the coordination of positions among our countries will continue in a close manner within the framework of the Troika. It is likewise just and merited to acknowledge the labor of South Africa as part of the Troika during the last 11 years and, in particular, during the four-and-a-half years of its Presidency of our movement.

We now welcome Egypt, which is to form part of the Troika for the next three years and will have the responsibility of organizing the next Summit and presiding over the Movement from then.

Delegates:

On September 10, the Non-Aligned Movement reached 45 years of existence. For more than four decades we have fiercely battled in defense of the legitimate interests and rights of our peoples.

Today, we can affirm with all confidence that the Non-Aligned Movement is more necessary then ever and as its member countries, we are committed to its preservation, revitalization and strengthening as an essential forum to discuss our most pressing problems and continue fighting for our just demands to be heard in the unjust and unequal world in which we live today.

Currently, we are 116 countries from four continents and we constitute almost two-thirds of the total members of the United Nations. Recently, we have had the satisfaction of the incorporation of two new members, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, whose delegations we receive today in Havana for their first Summit as full members.

Moreover, two other Caribbean nations, Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis, are to join us in this 14th Summit, and we give them the most cordial welcome. Their entry is proof of the interest of the countries of the South to join and belong to this forum, in which we doubtless share values and common interests and can defend in a united and cooperative manner our right to live and develop as independent nations.

We are pleased that this 14th Summit is also serving as a framework for the two other parallel Summits of groups that bring together countries of the South. We are content to serve as the venue of the Summit of the Group of 15 and the Summit of the Landlocked Developing Countries.

Your Excellencies:

In a few minutes the intensive working and negotiating sessions of the two commissions in which we are working will begin. We are confident of a frank and supportive debate in defense of our points of view, positions and interests.

We are meeting after the brutal aggression perpetuated against the sister people of Lebanon and while we indignantly witness the daily genocide to which the Palestinian people are being subjected. Our Summit also coincides with an intensification of pressure on Iran for exercising its sovereign right to develop a program for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and when other non-aligned nations are being threatened with "preventive wars" and aggressions.

For those reasons it would seem to us indispensable that we close ranks in defense of our rights. The risks, threats and difficulties that we face are similar and have common origins. We must demonstrate to the world our strength, our capacity to confront together the enormous challenges imposed on us by a world ruled by the most powerful.

Far from becoming an obstacle that impedes our agreement the diversity that characterizes our Movement should impel us to act united in the light of principles and proposals that we have jointly defined.

You, the high-level representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement, have the responsibility in this historical Summit of taking forward the negotiations of the documents that we shall be finally submitting to the approval of our heads of state or government.

You have the Final Document before you, on which negotiations began within the Coordination Bureau in New York last August. This document has been the one most worked on by each one of the delegations and is virtually ready for adoption. However, we must work to solve the issues that are still pending.

You will also be examining aspects related to the working methods of our Movement. We aspire to working to systematize what has been achieved and to give greater effectiveness to the application of the agreements and decisions that the non-aligned nations adopt in their main meeting. We hope that what you approve in terms of methodology can be set up as a useful tool for the future work of the Movement.

We have sent the draft Political Declaration drawn up by Cuba in advance to the foreign ministers of the member countries of the Movement, with the request that contributions that they might consider necessary to include be handed over to us at the beginning of this meeting.

This document identifies priorities, principles, shared goals and objectives of the countries that make up the Movement in the current conditions, while it reaffirms the Bandung principles and the basic precepts that gave origin to our grouping.

In Cuba's assessment, it constitutes a valuable document that, once adopted by heads of state or government, will be the firmest expression of our countries' commitment to the principles and propositions of non-alignment.

After receiving your contributions, the Cuban delegation will present a new version of this document for the consideration of the delegations.

Delegates:

The Movement can trust that, during its presidency, Cuba will proceed with the transparency and firmness of principles that has characterized it in the last nearly 50 years of revolutionary diplomacy. Our country will act in a transparent and serious manner within the framework of the Movement's mechanisms.

We shall work for a Movement that is inclusive and representative, and whose decisions are the result of extensive debate.

In order to successfully confront the challenges embodied by the presidency of the Movement, we need the united strength of our 118 nations. The Non-Aligned Movement can count on revolutionary Cuba in the same way that we can count on the support and collaboration of all of you.

Thank you very much.

 

 

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