Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks to the press following informal briefing to General Assembly on Syria

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 14 March 2014

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to see you.

I have just briefed the General Assembly on the situation in Syria.

The political process is in crisis. It is not enough to have brought the parties to the conflict into the same room. What matters most is what they do there.

Yet after two rounds of talks, neither side is displaying any will to compromise or any true awareness of the suffering of the Syrian people.

I strongly urge the Syrian Government and opposition to show the leadership, vision and flexibility needed to end this conflict.

I appeal to the Russian Federation and the United States, as the initiating States of the Geneva Conference on Syria, to take clear steps to re-energize the political process.

And I call for an end to the flow of arms and fighters that continues to fuel the violence. All those who persist in seeking a military solution are making a political solution even more distant and elusive.

Let me also say a few words about the crisis in Ukraine.

I remain in regular contact with world leaders in an effort to find a peaceful solution in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

Yesterday, I met with Ukrainian Prime Minister [Arsiney] Yatsenyuk. We discussed the need for all concerned to respect the law and for calm in an increasingly complex and threatening situation. I reiterated our consistent message that the principles of the Charter -- including sovereignty and territorial integrity -- should be respected.

It is clear that we are at a crossroads. If positions continue to harden and rhetoric continues to sharpen, there is great risk of a dangerous downward spiral.

The Security Council has met many times on the matter. Yet the international community has not yet been able to de-escalate the situation.

I urge all concerned to avoid provocation and hasty decisions in the coming days. The focus must be to engage in direct dialogue aimed at agreeing on specific measures that will pave the way towards a diplomatic solution.

Although it has so far proven elusive, the path towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis is still open. Our duty is to seize it. The United Nations will do its part to break the impasse.

Earlier this morning, I spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We discussed the need to work toward a durable and fair political solution.

We agreed to remain in close touch.

Finally, let me say a word about the Central African Republic.

I met yesterday with three of the country’s most distinguished religious leaders. Together, we are sending a crucial message that the conflict in the Central African Republic is not about religion. What we are seeing is the manipulation of religious and ethnic affiliations for political purposes.

I am hopeful that the people of the Central African Republic can step back from fear, and find their way back to the coexistence that had been the country’s longstanding tradition.

I reiterate my appeal for more troops and police to protect civilians, more aid to save lives and more support for the transitional authorities in their efforts to rebuild the state institutions.

I also urge the Security Council to act quickly on my recommendations for a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

I thank you for your attention.