Minister of State Kitt meets with Burundian President
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tom Kitt, T.D., met this morning in Brussels with the President of Burundi, H.E. Domitien Ndayizeye, where he received important new information from the President on the ongoing investigation into the murder of Archbishop Michael Courtney in Burundi on 29 December last.
Both the Minister and the President were attending the opening session of the Burundi Partners Forum where, speaking on behalf of the European Union, Minister Kitt reiterated the EU's full support for the peace process in Burundi and the Presidency's willingness to facilitate and assist this process which has been boosted recently by the announcement of negotiations between the Burundi Government and the FNL, the last remaining armed group opposing the peace process.
During his meeting with the President, Minister Kitt availed of the opportunity to seek an update on the investigation by the Burundian authorities into the tragic and untimely murder of Archbishop Michael Courtney, the Papal Nuncio to Burundi, on 29 December 2003. The President reassured Minister Kitt that the investigation was being accorded the utmost priority by his government. He informed Minister Kitt that progress has been made in identifying a number of individuals believed to be involved in the murder of the Nuncio. President Ndayizeye also stated that his Government was willing to share information on the ongoing investigation with the Irish Government and would take steps to forward the relevant files to the Irish authorities through appropriate diplomatic channels.
In response, Minister Kitt stated that he welcomed the commitment and determination of President Ndayizeye's government to pursue the culprits and that Ireland, for its part, would lend whatever assistance it can to Burundi to ensure the success of its peace process. "The establishment of a lasting and sustainable peace in Burundi which I believe is now attainable would represent the most fitting tribute that can be made to the memory of Archbishop Michael Courtney who was a true friend of Burundi and champion of peace in that country", said the Minister.
"I am also pleased today to be able to announce a substantial increase in the contribution to Burundi from our bilateral aid programme, with an additional €3 million in emergency and recovery funding now committed on top of the just over €2 million provided in 2002 and 2003. This demonstrates Ireland's determination as EU President to lend every assistance to ensure that the unparalleled opportunity now existing for a lasting peace in Burundi is realised."