|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT ON WORLD
FINANCIAL CRISIS SUMMIT, SITUATION IN HONDURAS
General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said the international community should be “very happy” about the outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, which had affirmed the 192-member body as the most suitable venue for discussion of serious economic matters.
“This marks an important point in the history of the United Nations,” Mr. d’Escoto said during a Headquarters press conference. “We are moving into a period of democratic inclusiveness and away from a time when discussions on matters that affect the entire world are restricted to a few,” he said, adding: “This is the twenty-first century, after all, and such policies should be left behind.”
He said the Assembly should also be proud of the “historical and unprecedented” resolution it had adopted on 30 June condemning the coup d’état in Honduras that had interrupted constitutional order and led to the 28 June removal of democratically-elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales.
“The ‘G-192’ should be happy […] that the situation in Honduras is very close to resolution, I believe,” he said, responding to several questions. The Assembly Declaration on the matter “pulled no punches” and condemned the coup, even though there were many countries that had tried not to use that term, he added. That text had demanded the immediate and unconditional restoration of power for the President and the established authority in that country.
Current talks being mediated by Costa Rica’s President Oscar Arias between Zelaya and interim Honduran leader Roberto Micheletti would “lead to something good,” Mr. d’Escoto continued, declaring that constitutionally, President Zelaya must be allowed to fulfil his mandate, and his Office must be restored to him for the time period that had been allotted by his initial election. “Nothing short of the restoration of President Zelaya’s full term and his return to the country is acceptable,” he said.
He said the action taken by the Assembly had been as important as it was timely, because unconstitutional changes of Government were not solely a problem for Honduras. Indeed, coups were an oft-used weapon to reclaim lost territory, whether in Honduras or elsewhere. “The right has no respect for the constitution [and] doesn’t give a hoot about the poor,” he said, adding that when the opposition had seen President Zelaya’s efforts to allow the poor to exercise their rights, they had become very frightened and resorted to unconstitutional behaviour.
Mr. d’Escoto recalled that he had accompanied President Zelaya last Sunday on a plane which had been forced to circle Honduras’ main airport twice before diverting to El Salvador, after coup leaders blocked its landing with troops and vehicles on the runway; this despite the obvious, open and emotional outcry of the people on the streets of Honduras.
Asked about the mood on the plane, Mr. d’Escoto said the passengers were very calm and only thinking of the people on the ground. “I expected that they were not going to allow us to land, but the most important thing is not our disappointment, but that people had been at the airport for days looking up waiting for their President to return,” he said, noting that it was essential for the people to see that their President was trying to get back to the country.
To a question about the possibility of early elections, he said such talk was only for those who knew nothing about constitutionality. He reiterated that President Zelaya had been constitutionally elected to a term of office, which he must be allowed to fulfil. “So we should not be talking about early elections but about ‘early incarceration’ of those that had led the coup.”
He said that while nothing was certain, he had a good feeling that the situation was about to change for the better. “It’s not just a hunch or wishful thinking,” but was based on conversations he had had. “I feel personally confident that a solution may be arrived at soon, but I can say no more,” he replied to repeated questions about when an agreement could be expected.
Returning to the outcome of the Conference on the financial crisis, he reiterated that the international community should be very happy about the Assembly’s endorsement. Every effort had been made to derail the Conference or narrow its scope. Now some of those who had openly opposed the Conference were praising that event. But the Conference and its outcome had been just the beginning: the next step was to proceed with follow-up.
Member States had managed to get formal recognition of the “G-192” as the best possible venue for such discussions, he repeated. United States President Barrack Obama and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi had mentioned the “G-192” during press encounters at the G-8 Summit currently under way in L’Aquila, Italy. Moreover, many of those who had only recently made a mockery of the Assembly’s involvement were now accepting the necessity of United Nations involvement in economic and financial matters.
Joining Mr. d’Escoto was Nirupam Sen, one of his key advisers on the Conference. He said the meeting’s main achievement had been that, for the first time, the United Nations had discussed issues that had until now been considered the remit of the Bretton Woods institutions. The continuing role of the United Nations had been set out in follow-up measures included in the outcome.
Mr. Sen said, in response to additional questions, that the outcome, among other things, called for the establishment of an ad-hoc open-ended working group, which could discuss the ongoing fallout from the economic downturn. It had also charged the Economic and Social Council with several key tasks, including bolstering international cooperation in tax matters, reviewing agreements between the Bretton Woods and the United Nations, and considering and making recommendations to the General Assembly on the establishment of a panel of experts on the crisis and its impact on development. That should satisfy those who argued that the Assembly did not have the expertise to consider such matters, he added.
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