STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF LITHUANIA AUDRONIUS AŽUBALIS AT THE HIGH LEVEL UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PLENARY MEETING ON THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS. United Nations, New York, 21 September 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ten years since the Millennium Summit, implementation of the Millennium Development Goals remains uneven, both in terms of geography and the level of progress on specific goals. Challenges, both old and new, threaten to slow down and even reverse the progress achieved so far.
This high level meeting offers an excellent occasion for all of us to renew and refocus our commitments made ten years ago.
Development cooperation is in the natural interest of all countries- big and small, recipients and donors- since persistent poverty, underdevelopment and neglect of basic human rights provide a fertile ground for extremism and radicalization and add to the problems of illegal migration, human trafficking, trans-border crime and a variety of other complex problems that affect us all and cannot be resolved by any one country alone.
As responsible democratic governments, we must first and foremost respond to the worries and concerns of our citizens affected by the recent economic slowdown, by making all within our power to enable financial recovery and to set our national economies back on track.
At the same time, we must live up to existing development commitments and pledges and make sure that implementation of the MDGs is kept on track.
Importantly, development cooperation pays back as countries emerge out of poverty and instability, creating a safer environment for trade, investments and business opportunities for all.
Development funds, however, are not limitless and references to donor fatigue are increasingly common.
As we all collectively work to fulfill the MDGs, we need to adjust to the more frugal post-crisis reality by making sure that not a penny of development money is wasted, that development efforts are more coherent and more effectively coordinated, duplications and wasteful practices are avoided.
We believe that further efforts to ensure a system-wide coherence are highly pertinent in this context and my country will continue to support them.
Mutual accountability, aid effectiveness, a targeted, results-oriented investment of development money, as well as mobilization of domestic policies and resources are key to progress in achieving the MDGs.
Lithuania welcomes EU Commissioner Piebalgs’ proposal regarding the MDG Initiative which provides for a part of the 10th European Development Fund reserves to be used to increase EU support to African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in their efforts to reach the MDGs.
We believe this initiative is a right step towards increasing aid effectiveness.
As the current chair of the Community of democracies and speaking from our own experience, Lithuania cannot stress enough the importance for MDGs‘ implementation of good governance at all levels and of solid democratic institutions responsive to the needs of people based on the key principles of participation, accountability, and transparency.
Countries with recent reform experience, like Lithuania, can assist developing nations in their efforts to reform tax and administration systems in order to increase revenue and mobilize domestic resources along with external aid for sustainable development and achievement of the MDGs.
Since restoring independence twenty years ago, Lithuania moved quickly from recipient to donor.
As a relatively new donor with rather limited resources, we follow closely the international trends of dono r coordination and division of labour.
In the past five years alone Lithuania’s official development assistance increased four-fold.
In line with overall EU commitments, Lithuania is working to meet the ODA target of 0.33 per cent of GNI by 2015.
Lithuania’s development cooperation focuses on areas where we have a comparative advantage arising from our own state- building experience: good governance and democratic reform, rule of law and building a functioning market economy, sustainable development and education.
In terms of development partners, we started out by focusing on a relative small number of countries in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus.
Today, Lithuania’s development cooperation is reaching out to more distant regions, from Afghanistan to the Middle East.
In Afghanistan, for example, where Lithuania leads a provincial reconstruction team in the province of Ghor, we have focused on MDG 2- strengthening education sector by providing training for teachers, supporting and promoting primary education, construction of schools and supplying schools with necessary teaching material.
We also carried out a number of programmes related to MDGs 4 and 5, such as vaccination for children and women of child-bearing age, as well as health care services and supplementary nutrition for pregnant women.
In this context, we welcome the Joint Action Plan for Women's and Children's health, initiated by UN Secretary General.
To a small country like Lithuania, leading a PRT in Afghanistan is an enormous task and a challenge.
We look forward to a more active involvement of the UN and multilateral donors in the Ghor province.
In terms of bilateral partners, we are pleased that Japan and Greece have agreed to engage in development projects in the province of Ghor, and we are working to attract other bilateral partners in our efforts.
To this end, Lithuania is planning to convene, on 12 November 2010 in Vilnius, a development cooperation conference on Afghanistan to discuss implementation progress reached since the Kabul Conference and consider how development cooperation can best serve the Afghan–led transition process.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me now turn briefly to women and development.
Women’s empowerment and full participation at all levels of economic, political and social life are key to poverty reduction, economic recovery and prosperity, as well as to the full enjoyment of all human rights by all.
We cannot expect substantial progress on the MDGs globally if women are left out or treated as second class citizens. Full women’s participation is also essential to building vibrant and durable democracies around the world.
Educating girls and women and promoting women’s access to full employment, decent work and working conditions, as well as their access to credit and resources, has a natural multiplier effect on the entire economy and thus on overall progress in achieving Millennium development goals.
We therefore support further mainstreaming of gender perspective in both national and multilateral development policies and projects.
In this context we welcome the recent creation of UN-WOMEN and hope it will become a powerful instrument in supporting development progress worldwide.