|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN PORTUGAL , 11 - 13 OCTOBER
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Lisbon in the afternoon of Tuesday, 11 October.
Shortly after arrival, he met Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral.
He and Mrs. Nane Annan then visited the Gulbenkian Foundation Museum set in the Parque Santa Gertrudes, considered a landmark in museum architecture in Portugal. They viewed the collection covering various periods of the history of art, from classical and oriental antiquity to European art in the early twentieth century.
In the early evening, they went to the Presidential Palace where the Secretary-General was welcomed with military honours by President Jorge Sampaio.
Following a meeting with the President, the Secretary-General travelled to the Ajuda Palace, also in Lisbon, where he received a medal -- the Grande Colar da Ordem da Liberdade, or the Grand Collar of the Order of Liberty, usually given to Heads of State of distinction. The President, in presenting the medal, cited in particular the Secretary-General’s fundamental role in the process leading to the independence of East Timor.
“I am moved and humbled on receiving this Order. I know that it is an exceptional honour -- a symbol of the pursuit of freedom so deeply rooted in the soul of the Portuguese people”, the Secretary-General said upon receiving the medal. “I accept it as a testimony to the close bonds between Portugal and the United Nations.” (See Press Release SG/SM/10157.)
He and Mrs. Annan then attended a State dinner in the Secretary-General’s honour, hosted by the President and the First Lady of Portugal.
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General began his day in Lisbon with a meeting with his Special Envoy for elections in Côte d’Ivoire, Antonio Monteiro.
He then received an honorary law degree at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and spoke to the faculty and students in remarks that focused on the areas of human rights and the rule of law -- areas that the World Summit last month brought concrete gains that were “truly significant”.
And most important, he said, the Summit achieved an historic breakthrough on one issue above all -- the issue that has come to be known as the “responsibility to protect”.
“The Summit”, he said, “did not leave this “responsibility to protect” vague and undefined. Rather, it made clear that it includes a range of duties: prevention; action against incitement; the establishment of early warning capabilities; and whatever measures are “appropriate and necessary”.
“Clearly, for all who recognize that the rule of law is the best safeguard against the rule of war, this Summit was not a failure. Rather, it was a milestone in the serious march of humankind towards a world based on right making might”, he said. (See Press Release SG/SM/10161.)
The Secretary-General then had a meeting with Prime Minister Jose Socrates and afterwards told reporters they discussed UN reform, Portuguese participation in UN peacekeeping operations, Timor-Leste, economic development and assistance, specifically in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau. He thanked Portugal for its 50 years of membership and the contribution it has made, and said he looked forward to continued collaboration.
He had a working luncheon with Foreign Minister do Amaral at the Necessidades Palace which houses the Foreign Ministry.
At a joint press encounter with the Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General took questions on subjects ranging from UN reform and the outcome of the World Summit, the Mediterranean migration issue and coordination of aid to Pakistan quake victims, to Iraq, Iran, and the joint East Timor-Indonesian truth and reconciliation committee.
In response to a question about the biggest difficulty during his mandate at the United Nations and plans for his remaining term as Secretary-General, he said, “Undoubtedly, I think the biggest challenge was Iraq. And the whole issue of disarmament that led to the war that divided the international community and the membership of the UN.”
“As for the next 15 months or so”, he said, “I am going to focus on the reform. I am going to press ahead with the reform of the Organization, implement what has been agreed, work with the Member States to get agreement on other issues. I will press ahead on the issue of poverty alleviation and the fight against HIV/AIDS and in the strengthening and the establishment of the new institutions that have been approved, the Peacebuilding Commission, and particularly the Human Rights Council. So I have a lot on my plate.”
In the afternoon, he visited the Batalha Monastery during which he and President Sampaio participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier after reviewing an honour guard on the grounds of the fifteenth century World Heritage site.
In the evening, he met with opposition leader Luis Marques Mendes of the Social Democratic Party. The last scheduled meeting of the day was with former President Mario Soares.
The Secretary-General left Lisbon, Portugal for Salamanca, Spain, on Thursday, 13 October.
* *** *For information media • not an official record