25 September 2009
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

 


Roughly 20 years after last serving on the Security Council, New Zealand would again seek a Council seat for the 2015-2016 term, Prime Minister John Key said today during a press conference held after his first address to the General Assembly.


“ New Zealand has got a very proud record in the United Nations of being the honest broker, and bringing to the table a consistency which doesn’t seek fear or favour,” he said, emphasizing the high regard with which it was held during its prior service from 1993 to 1994.


Asked why the country had its eye on that term, he said Australia was in the running for the 2011 to 2012 term, while Canada had a bid for one from 2013 to 2014.


He said, in response to questions on how the country would benefit from the seat, that being on the stage with the Council’s permanent five members would raise New Zealand’s profile.  It would also show off its even-handed approach to international issues.


Asked what sense he had of how this week’s focus on nuclear weapons had played out, he stressed that yesterday’s Security Council meeting showed how high the nuclear issue was on the international agenda.  When pressed on how meaningful the resolution coming out of that meeting really was, given this morning’s news on Iran’s second nuclear enrichment site, he said United States President Barack Obama’s speech clearly illustrated his belief that it was in the world’s best interest, as well as the interests of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, that those countries not build up their nuclear arsenal.


When asked if the growing anti-nuclear sentiments showed that the world was catching up with New Zealand’s position, which was 25 to 30 years old, he said there was obviously a recognition that nuclear weapons did far more harm than good.  Nuclear power was different, in fact there was a growing regard for nuclear power.


Still, he suggested that the United States wouldn’t necessarily want to see every country declare itself nuke free in the way New Zealand had done.  But the past differences between the two countries on this issue were very much in the rear-view mirror, and there was a clear warming in the relationship.


Asked who he meant when he talked about countries building up protectionist trade walls, he said the World Bank listed about 20 countries or regions where such a build-up had occurred.  Declining to name any of those countries specifically, he stressed that their actions were nevertheless a step in the wrong direction.


“We proudly support free trade,” he said.  “We think it’s the fastest and most effective way to ensure that the recession is behind us and that we lift countries out of poverty”.


To that end, he said the Doha Round of trade negotiations should be completed.  Any moves to hold up the signing of that Round were not helpful.  He also saluted the move to enlarge the Group of Eight, stressing that, where economic matters were concerned, it made sense for the Group of 20 to meet, since a larger proportion of the world’s economies were represented.  At meetings of the latter, New Zealand’s voice was heard through Australia.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record