Mr. Mikhail Wehbe
I take pleasure in thanking the President of Mexico and the friendly people and Government of Mexico for their warm hospitality extended to us during our attendance at this Conference in the city of Monterrey, a city surrounded by beautiful mountains.
At the outset, I wish to express our support for the statement made by the President of Venezuela on behalf of the Group of 77.
This gathering of world leaders today in Monterrey must lead to a clear and serious commitment that will make the twenty-first century, a century of real development by mobilizing international, regional and national financial resources and enacting necessary legislation. The developing and developed countries must fulfil their commitments.
International technical and financial cooperation is a must for development. That cooperation nevertheless currently faces difficult circumstances, since credit conditions and debt servicing constitute heavy burdens for developing countries. Preventing many countries from accessing technology on various pretexts does not contribute to development in these countries.
World leaders affirmed in the Millennium Declaration their determination to achieve durable and just peace in all places of the world, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter. The leaders reiterated in the Monterrey Consensus that development and peace are interdependent.
However, the absence of peace in the region of the Middle East, due to the continued Israeli occupation of Arab territories, is a major obstacle to sustainable development. It contributes to creating a climate of instability and adversely influences efforts to establish any strategy aimed at attracting external and internal investments, not to mention the large allocations made to defence expenditures. That increases the debt burden of the Arab countries, despite the efforts being made by those countries in order to achieve development. Nevertheless, under current occupation, true sustainable development remains a distant goal.
Developing countries were clear in their message to this Conference. As a developing country, Syria wishes to reiterate these important points.
First, it is important to open the markets of developed countries fully and comprehensively to the products of developing countries and to lift tariff and other barriers to the entry of such products.
Secondly, we must increase the current momentum and use all the mechanisms and procedures necessary to alleviate poverty, particularly since the number of poor in the world is over 1.2 billion, of which 900 million face extreme rural poverty. We cannot forget the hundreds of millions of children who are AIDS victims and who face extreme poverty, military conflicts and occupation, as well as the scourge of environmental pollution.
Thirdly, there is diversification of the world’s commercial, developmental, financial and monetary institutions. To achieve the best results, these institutions must find the means to establish a mechanism of cooperation in order to achieve the desired objectives.
Fourthly, with regard to the debt burden of poor countries, every one has confirmed the continuation of efforts aimed at alleviating the debt burden of the least developed countries, as well as of developing countries, and at reviewing loan conditions to alleviate the debt burden of developing countries and the least developed countries. Achieving a just solution to the debt problem is a major element in combating poverty. We welcome the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative for poor countries. Nevertheless, we call for a mechanism to deal with the heavy debts faced by developing countries outside the framework of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative.
Fifthly, all initiatives and statements made yesterday and today point out that donor countries have not adhered to their commitments to achieve the official development assistance objective, which was agreed within the framework of the United Nations, to achieve 0.7 per cent of the gross national product.
Official development assistance is still playing a role in providing financing for developing countries and the least developed countries. Therefore, given widespread globalization and its challenges, those countries must respond to the call of Monterrey and make their best effort in a spirit of good will not only to achieve the 0.7 per cent target, but also to increase that percentage under objective developments.
Sixthly, real development requires genuine political will in order to achieve comprehensive and just solutions to end regional and international conflicts, as well as to enable international financing and external and internal investment to be channelled into the melting pot of sustainable development.
Failure to implement the blueprint of the Millennium Summit in achieving development and its financing will adversely reflects on the credibility of the decisions taken by the Millennium Summit. That motivates us, at Monterrey and elsewhere, to intensify efforts aimed at achieving the Millennium goals and implementing the Monterrey Consensus, which would pave the way for the success of the coming Conference in Johannesburg.
This simple gathering, in this beautiful city, of world leaders at this Conference, which has long been called for, demonstrates the importance of dialogue and of listening to mankind’s suffering. It is a good beginning towards understanding the problems of the South. Monterrey is one step on a long road with many obstacles. We must all cooperate in order to save our peoples from poverty, hunger and deprivation and the tragedies of occupation and armed conflict and to help them achieve sustainable development in order to attain a dignified life for all mankind.
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.