United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Prague from Brussels on Thursday evening, 3 April.
They were hosted at dinner that evening by Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek at the Czernin Palace.
On Friday, he first visited the United Nations offices in Prague where he was briefed by various United Nations representatives on their activities in the country to promote the Organization’s work, including on climate change.
The Secretary-General was then welcomed at Charles University by Professor Tomas Zima, the rector of the University, one of the oldest universities in Europe.
In a lecture entitled “The Czech Republic and the UN: Peace, Development and Human Rights in a Changing World”, the Secretary-General told the more than 200 assembled faculty and students that their country was a dynamic country that had been buffeted by the winds of global change many times. “While we deal with many immediate crises”, the Secretary-General said that “we also need to keep our eyes on what may seem less immediate but more destructive long-term threats”.
“We are at a cross road moment,” he added. “There are issues on the global agenda for the coming year that will shape people’s lives for generations to come.”
Inspired by the call for global responsibility expressed by the late Czech leader Vaclav Havel, the Secretary-General called on the young people in the audience to be activists for global justice, peace, human rights and human dignity. "This is my call to you," he told them, "be a global citizen." (See Press Release SG/SM/15750.)
The Secretary-General then met with the Czech Prime Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. Prior to attending an official lunch hosted by the Prime Minister at the Hrzansky Palace, the Secretary-General and Mr. Sobotka had a brief press encounter. The Secretary-General told reporters that they had discussed climate change and the situations in Ukraine, Syria and the Central African Republic. And he also expressed appreciation for the Czech Republic’s current and future contributions for United Nations peacekeeping.
The Secretary-General also met that afternoon at the Vltava embankment along the Charles River with the Mayor of Prague, Tomas Hudecek. Together they watched a volunteer unit of Prague’s fire service demonstrate the quick deployment of flood protection barriers. The Secretary-General expressed his admiration for the work the City of Prague has done on disaster preparedness and dealing with climate change.
During the day, Mr. Ban also held separate meetings with President Miloš Zeman; Jan Hamáček, Chair of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament; and Jan Kavan, former President of the United Nations General Assembly and former Foreign Minister.
On Friday evening, he attended a concert by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum Concert Hall.
The Secretary-General departed very early on Saturday morning for a previously unannounced visit to the Central African Republic.