OFF THE CUFF
This document contains remarks made from 1 January to 31 March 2002
(To find a particular subject, press Control and F simultaneously, then type in the word you wish to find. To scroll from one encounter to another, type Control and F simultaneously, then type *****. Continue to click on "Find Next".)
Beirut, Lebanon, 27 March 2002 - comments to the press following meeting Morocco's King Mohammed VI (unofficial transcript)
SG: Je suis très content d'avoir cette occasion d'aborder certains nombres de questions avec Sa Majesté, y compris évidemment la situation au Moyen Orient, le Sahara occidental et les relations entre l'ONU et le Maroc.
Beirut, Lebanon, 27 March 2002 - comments to Future TV following meeting with Prime Minister Rafic Hariri (unofficial transcript)
SG: I've had a very good discussion with the Prime Minister, who's a good friend and we've been working very well together. And I'm very happy to be here in Beirut to attend this meeting. And I think it is a historic opportunity and I'm very pleased that Crown Prince Abdullah put forward his proposal. And I believe his speech this morning would have an echo in Israel because he really spoke of peace in the region and he came in the name of peace. And I hope at the end of the day the conference would embrace the proposal that he's put on the table because it would be a major contribution for the peace process and we would then try to build on that momentum. Thank you.
Monterrey, Mexico, 21 March 2002 - Press conference with the Heads of the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization (unofficial transcript)
[Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations; James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank; Horst Köhler, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Mike Moore, Director General of the World Trade Organization]
SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Needless to say, I am very happy to see you all here and we are very happy to be here in Monterrey. We are here at last, discussing all the different aspects of the global economic monetary and financial system, with a view to giving developing countries a real chance to trade their way out of poverty.
I have made clear this morning that we can no longer continue to give with one hand and take with the other. We must work together in a coherent fashion if we want to achieve our goal. What makes this Conference unprecedented is not only the presence of finance ministers, businessmen and ministers of development, but also the way the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF, and the World Trade Organization have worked together in preparing the Conference.
This partnership is essential if we are to win the battle of development. And I am confident that in the months and years ahead, we will sustain it. That is why I am pleased to share this platform with the leaders of the three Organizations, Jim Wolfensohn, Horst Köhler and Mike Moore. We will now take your questions.
Q (Financial Times): Could I ask, apart from the fact that we have now got a bit more money for it, what do we now know about development that we didn't know a week ago before the conference began?
Mr. Wolfensohn: I think what we know is that there is now a unity of purpose between the leaders of the developed countries and the developing countries, that we should treat this as a joint issue, and I think that what is coming out in the communiqué and in the Consensus is that this partnership is not only recognized but that we're going to act on it, and that the areas in which we should act are, in terms of capacity building, trade and increased development assistance with each side bearing its responsibility. And I think that while we knew that before the Monterrey meetings, the fact that we have come together and acknowledged and agreed to move forward is a tribute to the Secretary General and those who have organized this Conference.
Mr. Kohler: I would like to add, what is new indeed, at least as I see it here, that the chairmanship of the Secretary General, the heads of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO are giving this press conference, I think this is unique up to now and should tell you something.
Q (Brazilian Daily, Folho da Sao Paulo): I would put my question to all of the four. You are talking about financing for development, there is a document about Financing for Development, but there is a country right now that just needs finance for survival, I mean Argentina. The international community just keep looking the meltdown, is just keep looking the meltdown of the country, or can it act right now to help the Argentinians to solve their crisis?
Mr. Kohler: I don't think that the international community is just observing Argentina. For the part of the IMF, we are in a working relationship with Argentina. We know that the situation is very difficult. We are concerned about the social dislocation, and our staff at the IMF and the staff of the Argentine authorities are working hard to find a way out of the crisis. But I also have to say, there is no one, neither in Argentina, nor at the IMF nor any other place, where the quick fix for very, very complex situation, and clearly the primary responsibility to define the way out of the crisis lies with Argentina itself. The IMF is very committed to continue its work. There have been some first steps, promising steps in the right direction, and I look forward to continue this work in process.
Mr. Wolfensohn: From the point of view of the Bank, we are very supportive of what the Fund and the Argentine authorities are doing, and we've told them that when they reach their agreement we will provide resources and support on the social and on the poverty areas. But we are very supportive of the discussions, which I think are very constructive, but which require a number of changes, which are being negotiated.
SG: Obviously, from what you've heard, you realize that we do not consider the crisis in Argentina as merely a financial problem. It does have impact on real people, and I think we are all concerned about the social and political aspects of what's going on in Argentina. And we will have the chance, of course, of speaking to the President here. But there is quite a lot of sympathy and support for Argentina. But the leadership and some of the key steps will have to be taken by Argentina, and the international community is ready to support, and I think you've heard from our two friends from the financial institutions, and we are all ready to help.
Mr. Moore: From the point of view of the WTO, all we can say is that, take encouragement that we must conclude the Doha development round on time, in January 2005. Our friends the Argentines say, that agriculture subsidies are costing them around 5 billion dollars a year. They are competitive. You are from Brazil. Your Agriculture Minister tells me he has 14 million hectares of land, without cutting a tree down, they could get into production, if there would not be these subsidies. And agriculture is just one serious issue. But if we could get this down within the three-year timeframe, that would return to developing countries up to five times more than the ODA, all of it; eight times more than the debt relief granted thus far. So that's agriculture. If you look at other areas of liberalization that could be achieved in the Doha Development Round, we could return magnificent results for the poor. All praise to the UN and the Secretary General for the Millennium goals. 54 billion dollars would satisfy those goals. That would be about a third of what would be returned if the Doha development round came in on time. For me, this week has reasserted my conviction and enthused our team, that internationalism is alive and well, that the world community can act in concert, and must act in concert because the customers of the future for the rich countries are the poor of today, not only from a point of view of social justice and morality, in terms of self interest, security, and development, we are all in this together.
Q (German Radio): Mr. Secretary General, even after the modest increase, in Washington and in some countries in Europe, increasing to spend more ODA, it is still a big gap. You mentioned that in your speech this morning. How are you going to collect the rest, if not just through hope? And a little question to the other gentlemen, if it's not just P.R., if it's not just coming together once in a while, what's the substantial change in your behavior towards the problems? Is it an instrumental change, would it be more giving out of money or what will it be, just to get an idea?
SG: Yes, obviously, all studies indicate that to meet the Millennium goals we will need additional 50 billion dollars per year. So, your statement that there is a gap is correct. But I hope that, apart from the money that has been given, the policy shift, or the acceptance of the fact that aid is necessary, and the realization by the public that it is in all our interest to help the poor, is going to maintain the pressure on our leaders and politicians to keep assisting the developing nations. So, in effect, apart from the money, there is this major shift in policy in some capitals, which I think over time is going to have an important impact on the work that we are trying to do. In addition to the political leaders who are here, we have quite a lot of business leaders here, who also, we had discussions with them yesterday, not only about direct foreign investment, but how they can work with governments to accelerate the process of development in the developing countries. And, in some cases, leverage some of the aid assistance, the development assistance, to encourage additional investment from the private sector. I will let my bankers speak; they have more to say on this.
Mr. Wolfensohn: I have always believed that in the financial business, that the first check, when you get it written, is the best check. I think what we have seen is an indication on the part of the United States and Europe, that they're prepared to write checks. And they have set out a basis on which they are prepared to do it, which is rational and which is agreed to between the developed and the developing countries. And I would not underestimate that. I think that if we can get started on this increased involvement of the two countries in partnership, which is what is being said here, and it can be across the board on capacity, on trade and on increased ODA, that we are off to a very much better start. Two weeks ago, there was no thought of the increase. Today there is a significance increase, and there's a basis to move forward. And personally, I think that is not a Hollywood step, I think that's a real step.
Mr. Kohler: I would like to add to this, I do think that this Conference is a further milestone to understand official development aid as an investment, in a future for all, because there is, rightly so, a debate about globalization, there is a growing awareness about the interconnectedness of poor countries, rich countries. And based on this, I do think that this Monterrey Consensus will be really a milestone to understand that we need a policy concept to define policy content, particularly also for the global level, and we need to define a concept for global governance, which takes care of public, global public goods. And again, that we are sitting here together, under the leadership of Kofi Annan, should demonstrate to you that there is a process under way to define, to shape, global governance.
Mr. Moore: I can report, and was able, to leaders, that at Doha, when we launched the first development round, that developing countries put conditionality on the rich countries. And their conditionality was, they need to build their institutions, to build their capacity so they could negotiate, participate and implement the results. I can report that we have had a substantial increase in our core budget, that in our Pledging Conference we got twice as much as what was planned, that what is new is the hard work between institutions, that the sister organizations, whether it be the World Bank, an integrated framework, whether it be UNDP, on the ground, whether it's UNCTAD, on special issues like investment, that these partnerships are working. And this gives us credibility with our donors. And where they can see we are being efficient and prudent with their resources, that we are not trying to do it all ourselves, that we are working with others, this entitles us to go back with credibility and seek more resources. The donor countries in my area are keeping their word, the resources are flowing, and I am very appreciative of it. Because unless that happens, there will be no success to this development round.
Q (Reforma /El Norte, Monterrey): My question is, after September 11, the United States put attention, or, the focus is on terrorism now. How to convince the United States and another country to put attention on poverty right now as priority?
SG: I think the fact that we are all here, and this meeting is taking place, is an indication that all the focus is not on terrorism. I have made it clear, that all the problems that existed on 10 September are very much with us. They haven't gone away. And it is even more urgent that we tackle the issues of poverty, of conflict, and this is why we are here. And in five months' time, we go to Johannesburg and continue. And I think this, in a way, answers your question. The conference itself is the best answer.
Q (Al Hayat Newspaper): Your excellencies, you all talked this morning about good governance requirements. Good governance requirements are seen and perceived as very tough by IMF and World Bank in some parts of the world, especially in the developing world. And it is sometimes perceived as political pressure and impossible conditions to be fulfilled by countries. I think here, for example, to a country like Lebanon, Mr. Köhler. It seems that conditions are very tough to endorse the programme, for an aid programme for a country like this. What is your comment on these requirements that are very difficult?
Mr. Kohler: My first comment is that I advise countries, it is our advice to our member countries, that they should not let crisis emerging, so that they are very eager to avoid the build-up, for instance, of macroeconomic instability, through unsustainable debt, through too-high inflation rates, or to, say, the disregard of the need for a competitive economy. So, crisis prevention is the first and foremost important answer to this issue. If we are in a crisis, if there is a need to correct something. There is no way out but to face often tough choices, because even the Fund has not the ability to print money or to promise the heaven on earth. Often it is a need for correction, and this is the issue of conditionality. I do think that the Fund cannot give up, and should not give up, to combine its financing with conditionality. But we should take lessons out of our experience, and this lesson is that we may have asked for too much sometimes in the past to happen nearly overnight. Therefore, the Fund is in a process, reviewing its conditionality concept and focusing conditions of what is really needed in this situation, and give also the country itself an opportunity to discuss alternatives so that this what we call ownership is getting really content. This is our answer to that. I do think that no one should expect there is an institution like the IMF where it's for all quick answers, and even quick fixes. And, therefore, I am always underlining the primary responsibility for the future of a country, of a people, lies with the country itself. And they should be proud that they have this sovereign right.
SG: If I may add, I don't think we should see good governance as something IMF or a bank or an outside force imposes. Good governance is in the interest of every country, in the interest of the people, and above all, in the interest of the poor. If you have strong institutions, strong regulatory systems, and you create an environment in the society that liberates the energies of its people, you are ahead of the game. It is the foundation on which you build sustainable development. If you do not have those institutions and good governance, you may be building on sand. We all can give examples of countries that seem to be doing very well, but crumble because there were no strong institutions, there was corruption and nobody paid attention to that. So, it is in all our interests to ensure that we have good governance, transparent, and respect the rights of our people. Thank you.
Q (USA Radio): This appears to be an apex from Cairo where there was no money. This combines sustainable development, public-private partnership and financing. What has helped facilitate moving the world to this meeting, and this point in time in history?
Mr. Moore: I can answer that. The fact that the Secretary-General has worked so hard, his team have shown vision, and you have the Millennium goals. The Millennium goals were not thought up by some bureaucrat in Geneva, or some do-gooder in New York. They were established by the leaders. And we are simply implementing what the leaders have said in those goals. And the Secretary-General has another conference in Johannesburg, the momentum is gathering. I think this is something to be welcomed and not questioned.
Mr. Kohler: I would like to add, there is, in the run-up of this conference, there was a very careful, comprehensive preparatory process where particularly, also, ambassadors from the United Nations have been involved. And, for instance, the IMF, and I know also the World Bank, have been from the beginning of this idea of a financing for development conference, been involved in this preparation. I myself met twice with the Preparatory Committee of the ambassadors, I met always with Kofi Annan, what at that time was called the ACC meeting, which is now called - what is it? - CEB meeting, that I think means Chief Executive Board, where we discussed these things during the course of the last two years. And the outcome I think is very, very successful.
Q [Translated from the Spanish]: I think that you represent the institutions that can speak to us clearly about the measures or standards required of poor countries to receive assistance.
Mr. Wolfensohn: I think the question was, what are the measures and standards that are required of poor countries to receive assistance, is that correct? Well, those measures and standards are now becoming agreed by both the donors and the recipients. And as the Secretary-General said, there is the initial phase of establishing within a country a framework, a legal system that works, a financial system that works, and a campaign against corruption. And the reason for that, is that if you don't have protection of rights and you have corruption, the poor suffer. That is something that everybody agrees on. The other conditions are to have a plan that is going to get the benefit through to the poor, and that means education and health and proper infrastructure. And it means the acceptance of responsibility in the countries to get the job done, and on the other side, from the developed countries, a recognition of that it will not work unless, as the head of the WTO says, you have markets open for trade and unless you can provide overseas development assistance. So I come back again, that there is no misunderstanding, I think, today, of what is the basis of giving development assistance. I think as was said this morning, the issue is now implementation, and that is the next step going forward from Monterrey.
Mexico City, 19 March 2002 - Press encounter with President Vicente Fox (unofficial transcript)
[President Vicente Fox made an opening statement in Spanish welcoming the Secretary-General]
SG: Mr. President, let me first start by thanking you and the Mexican people for receiving us so warmly, and for organizing this huge Conference, the Conference that is so important to millions and millions of people around the world, because it is their welfare and their future that we are here to discuss. As the President said, lots of preparation and lots of thinking has gone into this Conference.
It was barely 18 months ago when the leaders of the world met in New York at the Millennium Summit and passed a Millennium Declaration which had the fight against poverty on top of the agenda.
Here in Monterrey we will have a chance to demonstrate concretely that we are no longer going to do business as usual. We had a chance in Doha during the WTO meeting to demonstrate that we are going to have another round, and I hope that round would be a truly development round, opening the markets to the developing world, making the world trading system really fare and just.
Here we will have the chance to talk about financing for development and, as the President has indicated, it will touch on issues of debt relief, on the question of increased development assistance, and I think, on that score, given the announcement that President Bush has made and the European Union has communicated, I think we are winning the debate, the argument that we do need additional development assistance to give the developing countries a hand up for them to come out of their poverty.
We will talk about the issue of debt relief and the management of the global economy; and the role and the voice of the Third World in decisions affecting the management of the global economy. Of course, the issue of governance, transparent governments, and of course some discussions on corruption.
But let me conclude by telling you how happy we all are to be here and Mr. President to thank you and applaud your leadership and the dynamism that you brought to this exercise.
Q: [translated from the Spanish] My name is Arturo Tornel, a reporter from TV Azteca. I wish to pose two questions, the first to the Secretary-General: Is the elimination of debt from Third World countries considered to be part of this programme for development? And to President Fox: a few hours before the summit begins, do you know if Commander Fidel Castro will be attending the meeting?
SG: I think the question of debt relief has been on the agenda for a long time. We already have a HPIC arrangement to assist the least developed countries which are highly indebted. What we hope to do in Monterrey is to discuss further the question of debt relief and try and come up with mechanisms that will make the servicing of debt by the poorer countries sustainable, and to try to get them as much relief as we can. And I think the fact that so many leaders are coming, through the efforts of President Fox, indicates the importance we all attach to the issues of the agenda, including the question of debt.
Q: [Translated from Spanish] I want to ask the Secretary- General, what has to be done to avoid that the efforts in Monterrey end up in a complex catalogue of good intentions? What has to be done to do ensure that the eradication of poverty becomes a tangible fact, particularly after the United States has expressed it is against the proposal to provide part of its Gross Domestic Product to assist the countries that need it the most? What are the expectations of the Summit considering this statement which shows they are not fully open to the hope of eradicating poverty? I also have a question for President Fox. Besides hosting the conference, what is the exact agenda and the position of the Mexican Government will be presenting at the conference?
SG: I think, obviously, we will not expect to achieve all our objectives in one day. But what is important is that we are here as an international community, to recognize that we cannot live in a world which is so unequal. We don’t live in two worlds, we don’t have two worlds. We have only one world. And we cannot have a situation where you have immense [wealth] and extreme poverty living side by side and not try to do anything about it, and expect that it would be sustainable over the long run. Yes, today we are all concerned about terrorism. But fighting terrorism also means we have to try and eliminate the situations which are sometimes exploited by perpetrators of terrorism to justify their acts.
And that means the issue of poverty and misery around the world is everybody’s business. And I think that idea, that concept, I believe, is being generally accepted, not just by political leaders but by ordinary citizens. At the time of the Millennium Summit I got 21 million signatures from ordinary citizens saying, do something about debt. In May we are going to have a Summit on Children, welfare of children, for children, their education and health. We have 50 million signatures from around the world saying let’s help children. So there is a movement, there is an awareness.
And I hope we leave Monterrey with what I will call “The Spirit of Monterrey”, where everybody, Governments, private sector, citizens, all of us, agree that we need to fight poverty. Yes, the money that we would want, and we think we would need, to meet the Millennium Goals by the year 2015 would be about 50 billion dollars a year. We don’t have it all today but there is movement, there is progress. There is a realization that resources are needed--human resources, material resources and financial resources. And I hope that we will walk away with the understanding that the developed world would help the poor, and the developing countries would do enough to get their own home in order and strengthen their institutions and create policies that would attract both domestic and international investments.
[The President then answered his question in Spanish.]
Q: Two quick questions. The first one is, if the West was serious about helping the Third World, would it not be feasible to forgive debt all together for the Third World, completely. And just wipe out negotiations about it all together and do it in just one stroke. Second question being, Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize winner, was here just a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned, concerning the Middle East, that perhaps it would be an idea to bring young children from the Palestinian state and Israel state together at a very young age to try and get some sort of link between them before it was too late. Is this is something the United Nations could help support because it seem that by the age of thirteen or fourteen on both sides it’s way too late.
SG:. On your first one, I think all the heavily indebted countries would be extremely happy if one could wipe out their debt. There has been lots of discussion going on, on eliminating debt, reducing debt, giving debt relief to make it manageable, to avoid situations where countries spend more money on debt relief than on health than on education of their people. But we are not there yet. We’ve made some progress. I cannot say that we have achieved an ideal solution. But the discussion goes on. The fact that it is on the agenda here in Monterrey is an important signal that we do realize we have a problem. We don’t have a solution yet but we are continuing the search for a solution.
On your second question, I would say that I think it is important to educate children, to educate people, not just to them, but if you catch them early and you teach them tolerance, and you teach them to respect diversity, you teach them to respect what is sacred to others, you teach them to understand that there is more that unites us than divides us, as they grow older they will realize that they live in a world where they have to respect each other and their neighbor, regardless of their religion, their creed or their race.
But your proposal would imply that until you have a situation where you can have that sort of general education you will only be able to move small groups of children away and give them that education. But there are other ideas where people suggest, for example, instead of having the two textbooks, where the Palestinian text book is very harsh on the Israelis and then the Israelis have their own textbooks. You should expose the children to both textbooks, and explain what the real world is like and get them to draw their own lessons, and teach them lessons. And as they grow up they will really have a balanced view of society. So there are lots of ideas that people are beginning to look at. Thank you.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 18 March 2002 - Press conference with President Ricardo Maduro Joest (unofficial transcript)
[The President started with an opening statement in Spanish welcoming the Secretary-General to Honduras]
Q: [Translated from Spanish] Good afternoon Mr. President and Mr. Annan. Do the representations of the third world countries really generate an impact in this organization and make discrimination in relation to any particular conflict in the world?
SG: I think, let me start by saying that as the President mentioned earlier, the UN is working very effectively with Honduras. I've been very impressed to see what is going on here and to see how well the UN team is working here with the government. I think the UN in a way is more important for smaller countries, and our programme to fight poverty, to fight disease, to promote education, to promote good governance and transparent government, and to protect the planet is something that rings a cord with leaders and people from smaller countries.
I think on the question of whether small countries have an impact in the UN, I think they can and do have impact sometimes but when they are organized and participate fully, they have the weight and the numbers to have an impact. The UN is an organization of states large and small, and decisions are taken collectively. Obviously some of the bigger countries have many more assets and can bring greater pressure to bear. But if all the member states participate and do their bit, the third world and the smaller countries can have their weight felt in the organization.
Q: [Translated from Spanish] Welcome Mr. Secretary-General I hope this is not the first or the last time you come to Honduras. El Salvador has not obeyed the border judgements given by the International Court of Justice in 1992, and Nicaragua also has not obeyed the sentence of the Central American Court on the 35% tax on Honduran products. Will the UN intervene?
SG: I think what is important here today we have leaders in the three countries that I expect can and should work together. I trust that through leadership, wisdom and cooperation of the leaders, these issues can be resolved and I would urge that we go that route. If by some future date my good offices are needed they will be available if the parties want it. But I am confident that if the three leaders really put their heads together they can resolve this problem to the satisfaction of all.
President: [The President then made a comment in Spanish.]
Q: [Translated from Spanish] Good afternoon Mr. President and Mr. Secretary-General. My name is Liliam Bonilla from television. What impact would globalisation have in the Central American Region (area) if the area countries resist integration since the divisions are more notorious each time and judgements are not respected.
President: [The President replied in Spanish.]
SG: I think the President has answered the question.
Q: [Translated from Spanish] To conclude this section of questions Mr. Gustavo Palencia from the International Press Agencies will ask the following question. Mr. Secretary-General you will attend tomorrow a conference on Development. Why do you believe the developed countries should increase their support to the poor countries and what would happen if they don't do it. On the other hand, what measures should take the developing countries to acquire those benefits as counterparts to achieve that development.
SG: I think I expect the donor countries and the developed countries to help, because we are all coming to recognize that we live in an interdependent world and that we cannot continue to accept a situation where the poor and the rich live side by side, where men's poverty in extreme wealth exist in the same area and we do nothing about it.
We are also learning to recognize that what happens in one part of the world can affect all of us, and I think it is in the self interest of the richer nations to help the poor. I think it is a question of conscience and morality, but recently we also realize that if we do not deal with some of the root causes and some of the problems that we see around the world from poverty to conflict prevention, to diseases, these situations are often exploited by those who would use terrorism to justify their actions. So in the end development and security are linked, and I think there is a greater awareness of this, and we will, I hope, see determination on the part of the donor governments to do more to help the poor.
On the side of the poor countries they have to get their act together too. They have to deal with corruption; they have to have a transparent and democratic government based on rule of law. We have to help strengthen their institutions, and develop right regulatory systems. And when I am talking of corruption, we should also try to find ways and means of repatriating back to the countries moneys that have been salted away by corrupt leaders, which could help alleviate the poverty in the countries concerned.
And, so I am going to Monterrey hoping that we will have a deal, a deal on the table that the third world would do more to improve their own domestic situation to create an enabling environment which will release the energy and creativity of their people and that the developed world will open up their markets for the products coming from the developing world. They would cease subsidising their producers who compete with the third world, that we will get increased development assistance. There will be effective action on dept relief, and that we would also have some discussions on how the global economy is managed, and how we factor in the views and the voices of the third world. Thank you.
President: [The President, speaking in Spanish, then thanked the Secretary-General.]
SG: And thank you very much, Mr. President. And I want to also thank the people of Honduras for the warm reception they reserved for Nane and myself and the team from New York and I hope the cooperation between the UN and Honduras will be strengthened even further. Thank you very much.
San Jose, Costa Rica, 18 March 2002 - Press encounter with President Rodriguez Echeverria (unofficial transcript)
[Opening remarks -in Spanish- by Mr. Miguel Angel Rodriguez, President of Costa Rica, appreciating the Secretary-General's visit to Costa Rica. He briefly mentioned the issues discussed with the Secretary-General which included the responsible paternity law, the Costa Rican initiative for the revision of mechanisms within the human rights commission, and the progress of the revitalization of the University for Peace.]
SG: Thank you very much Mr. President, Ministers, and Ladies and Gentlemen, and members of the press. Let me say that I am extremely happy to be visiting Costa Rica. This is a country I've held in high esteem, and I have quoted it as an example to other countries in terms of its progressive approaches to social developments and human rights. And to have had the opportunity to come and see it for myself and to be able to meet you, Mr. President, and talk to the Ministers and key members of your administration who have been involved in the development and the progress of this country. And already in your comments you refer to some forward-looking ideas on paternity law, the way you have tackled the issue of human rights and you're determined therefore to build this society based on rule of law, is an example that quite a lot of the third-world countries would envy. And you're also setting examples that we in the international system would want to replicate in other parts of the world.
Yes, in addition to what the President referred to, we also talked about the Monterrey conference in a few days time where we hope the issue of financing for development will be discussed seriously. We expect about fifty Heads of State or more coming to that Conference and we would hope to be able to discuss increased development assistance, debt relief, effective and urgent debt relief. We would hope to be able to discuss direct foreign investments and the management of the global economy and participation of the third world or the developing countries in those decisions affecting the management of the global economy. And I think we are already seeing interest signals -President Bush made an announcement recently increasing US development assistance by 5 million over the next couple of years.
I think what is important is that there is a shift, a shift in capitals, a shift in political thinking, that we cannot live in a world that is so unequal, a world where so many people are marginalized, and that if we are going to make a difference in this world and expect to have a stable world over the long term, we have to tackle the issue of poverty, inequality, and, yes we should fight terrorism, but that is not the only field that confronts the world. All the problems, all the crises that existed before 10 September did not go away -poverty, conflict, disease. And I think it's even more urgent that we tackle them now, and I am really pleased that this realization seems to be setting in. And then I hope when we get to Monterrey, the donor countries will send out a message that we are going to do something different from now on. We no longer accept business as usual. We no longer accept a world in which we have immense wealth and extreme poverty living side by side, and we seem to accept it and it's no longer acceptable. And if we can send that message out from Monterrey, not just the words, but follow it up with action.
We would also have another chance in Johannesburg in September at the Sustainable Development Conference to do something about this issue. I think we started rather well in Doha, when the World Trade Organization met and agreed to a new Round. But I hope that Round would be the truly development Round that would give the third world the promises that have been made, that the poor would much rather trade themselves out of poverty and not live on a handout, so we say give them a handup not a handout, and I hope that over time this would be done.
On the UN University let me say that I think the University has a great contribution to make. I'm happy to see Martin Lees amongst the audience, I know he's not a journalist, but he is here, I think he has a great contribution to make and we discussed this earlier and we are facing issues of conflict and development that the Institute and the University have a contribution to make and I am happy that we've been able to put together such a dynamic Advisory Board and we are going to do whatever we can to strengthen it, and I can assure you we will do that [inaudible] and keep up the good work. And I want to thank all that the government of Costa Rica has done for the University, to the board members who have given their time, I see several here -Mrs. Sonia Picado- and others, for all the support you've given to the institute. We can do it and lets do it. Thank you very much.
Q: [translated from Spanish]: I would like to ask you, Mr. Secretary-General, what is your opinion regarding the Costa Rican initiative to create a Global Report on Human Rights and a Human Rights Index? What outcomes do you expect from this initiative and what support would you give it?
SG: I've been briefed early about it by the President. And it is also an idea that the Rio Group will discuss and then it would go to the membership at large. But I think the idea of trying to approach human rights in a systematic manner, trying to determine how it is being applied and where it stands in the various countries in a constructive manner that can help the countries develop it further, taking the politics out of it and doing it very systematically, it is going to be very helpful. We are moving from discussion of human rights in conference groups to applying it at the country level, encouraging governments to strengthening the human rights regulations, educating people to know that they have rights, that these rights are theirs, it is not something that can be taken away by a leader or governments. And that awareness amongst the populations that they have these rights are part of the efforts to strengthen the culture of human rights. So if one can have a systematic way of assessing it knowing which country needs help and how to work with them in developing further their human rights institutions and application of human rights law, I think it would be helpful for everybody. I would want to see a constructive and real engagement in our human rights effort and help countries move forward. So I think the idea that Costa Rica has put forward is a very interesting one and I hope the membership, once they have reviewed it, would embrace it.
Q: [translated from Spanish] As a Secretary-General, what do you think about the responsible paternity law of our country, why is it interesting? How can the United Nations Organization guarantee that the rich countries will finance development in poor countries?
SG: On the question of a paternity law, today we are dealing with the problem of children, actually in May we will have the Summit of Children. One of the big issues we have with children, is children in poverty today. And you have more children who live in poverty in homes without a father, in homes where the fathers don't take their responsibility, in homes where they produce babies and move on. And I think this law is going to make them accountable and responsible and I think it will put pressure on them to become much more mature in their behavior but even if they are not, it will make them accountable and responsible. Basically, society is saying we will come out after you. You're not going to get away with this. And I think that sends a powerful message to society and this is what I think is exciting about this law. And I hope other societies will find what you're doing exciting.
On the question of financial transfers from the North to the South, obviously one cannot force governments, rich governments, to give assistance. But I think the rich governments, as I said earlier, are beginning to realize that it is in their own self interest to help the poor. And there are various advantages, not only by helping the poor make a living in their countries and develop their economies. For those who believe in market economies, you are creating markets, you're expanding the markets. Inequality and equity, one will be doing something about that. For those who are concerned about security and the need for us to live in a safe environment, we would also be creating an environment where people can no longer exploit and use as justification, for terrorist actions. And so for all sorts of reasons I believe it's in everyone's interest to work together. And I had a chance in my discussion with the Cabinet to indicate that perhaps we could have blamed ignorance before 11 September last year, but after 11 September it should be clear to all of us that you ignore countries like Afghanistan, to the peril of all. If after the war ended with the Soviet Union, the international community had paid attention to Afghanistan, it would not have become the failed state that it did, it would not have become a haven for terrorists and it would not have led to the attacks on the World Trade Center that shocked the whole world. That attack was an attack on one nation but was an attack on all of us too. Thank you.
Q [translated from Spanish]: Today the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights resigned to her post, and she claimed lack of financial resources as the reason for her resignation. Therefore, I would like to know your comments on this.
SG: For the record, Mrs. Robinson is not resigning. What she has indicated is that she would not seek an extension of her term. Most of you will remember that she resigned last year. No, last year when her term came up, four-year term, she said she was leaving, and then agreed to stay on for another year. That year comes up at the end of this September. And so after September, she does not intend to stay on.
She's done a great job, she's made a contribution, she's put human rights on the map and she's put lots of energy, creativity and courage into a very difficult work. It's a kind of work that every day you make some friends and some enemies. Whatever you say, you offend somebody. But she has brought her drive and application and integrity to the Office and she can leave in the full knowledge that she's made a major contribution.
On the question of budget and money, the UN is always short of money in all our activities, we have done, we've made some efforts over the last few years to give the Human Rights program a bit more money through the regular budget. There was a marginal increase in its budget, when it was approved in December and we're also raising some extra budgetary resources, voluntary contributions, to help the High Commissioner's Office, and that effort will continue. I think human rights has become even more important following the developments of 11 September, and I think we all need to be careful not to believe that there is a trade-off between effective action against terrorism and human rights. We need to be careful to ensure that whole groups of individuals, migrants, and others, are not targeted and are placed at a disadvantage. And so I continue to plea for tolerance and urge that we should respect the primacy of rule of law. Thank you.
Q [translated from Spanish]: I want to congratulate you on your peace contributions as a leader of the United Nations. Lately, an axis of evil theory has been created, and some nations want to use atomic bombs against some countries, therefore I would like to hear you comment on this regard.
SG: I think you are referring to the study, a study that the US is reviewing its nuclear policy. I think there has been a clarification, by Secretary of State Colin Powell, that the US has no plans to launch a military and nuclear attack against any States. I think what is important is that we all respect the NPT, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that governments avoid taking steps or measures or adopting policies that will make other countries feel that they no longer are bound by the NPT or have to respect it. And so I welcome the clarification that was given by the Secretary of State, and we should all do whatever we can to discourage a new military race.
Q [translated from Spanish]: On Saturday, there was a strong invasion from soldiers that belong to the Democratic Congolese Union, in the eastern part of Congo, apparently supported by Rwanda -as informed by the French Ambassador to the United Nations. What is your opinion on this issue?
SG: We sent UN Military observers to the area, Moliro. They flew over and confirmed that there are troops of the RCD, one of the rebel groups in the town. And they have been asked to leave the town. There are discussions going on as to how they leave it. They have indicated they would want to hand over to the UN. I am not sure we have the capacity on the ground to take over the town. They should not have gone in there in the first place. So I think their decision to leave is a good one and they should be encouraged to do so. And I hope that the Inter-Congolese dialogue, which is taking place in Sun City, South Africa, will resume in earnest and that all the parties will be at the table working in good faith to find a solution to the conflict.
[President Rodriguez Echeverría thanks the Secretary-General for paying this visit to Costa Rica and wishes him well in the next endeavors of this journey through Central América and México].
San Jose Airport, Costa Rica, 15 March 2002 - Press encounter upon arrival (unofficial transcript)
SG: Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very happy to be here in Costa Rica for my first visit. Costa Rica and the UN work extremely well together and is one of the dynamic member states of the Organization. It is also the Headquarters of the UN University for Peace. And I look forward to discussing issues of common interest with the President and the Ministers and also take a bit of rest before I continue my journey.
Q: Mr. Annan, Why has the United Nations been unable to solve the conflict in Israel?
SG: That’s a very straightforward question. I think it’s a very complex crisis and we are all working very hard to try and pull the parties from the abyss. I have also challenged the leaders to lead their people from desperation and despair. And we are working very closely with the quartet -- the quartet is the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the UN. And we are working together to try and end this tragedy. And of course recently we have a very helpful initiative from Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and with General Zinni on the ground and Vice-President Cheney is also there. All these international efforts I hope will yield results.
Q: … the work of Costa Rica in human rights?
SG: Human rights is important, not only for Costa Rica but all around the world. And I always encourage the Government and the people at large and civil society to become engaged in strengthening human rights. And it is important that human rights are respected. And it’s not only the work of the Government, but individuals must also know their rights, and we must all work to foster an atmosphere where we respect these rights and support each other. Thank you.
Managua, 15 March 2002 - Press encounter (unofficial transcript)
Q: [Can you tell us about your meeting with opposition leader Daniel Ortega Saavedra]
SG: We discussed the economic developments in the country, the process of democratisation.
We did talk about corruption and the Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey and also encouraged that all Nicaraguans work together for the betterment of the country and that it is the only way we can develop and strengthen this country. Thank you.
Managua, 14 March 2002 - Press encounter with President Enrique Bolanos of Nicaragua (unofficial transcript)
[President Enrique Bolanos made a statement welcoming the Secretary-General.]
Q: [Translated from Spanish] What does the UN expect from the Monterrey conference, and specifically for the poorest countries of the hemisphere?
S-G: I think that at the Monterrey conference, we would want -since you are putting the emphasis on the poorest countries-we would expect the poorest countries to come prepared to participate fully in the conference. We will be discussing issues of great concern to them and their voices must be heard. We will be discussing the issue of debt relief, effective and credible debt relief. We will discuss the management of the global economy and how the poor countries participate in decisions affecting the global economy and it's management.
We will of course discuss the question of overseas development assistance and possibly increasing the resources. In fact, the proposal is that donor governments make an attempt to double the amount over the next two three years to be able to help the developing countries.
We will also talk about corruption, the need for the developing countries to get their act together, strengthen their institutions, and tackle corruption very seriously. Of course, I'm not implying that corruption is all on the side of the poor, but we need to tackle corruption quite seriously and I hope that when we are discussing the issues I have raised, which is of great concern to all of us from the south, we will be there ready to participate fully and protect our interests .
Q: [Translated from Spanish] I would like to talk a little bit on the subject of corruption, which you have already touched upon. The United States is taking important steps in the fight against corruption and recently a list was published of people related to corruption and who won't be allowed to enter the United States. What is the Secretary-General's perception on the subject of corruption in countries of Latin America, and particularly Nicaragua.
S-G: I think corruption is to be condemned wherever it is to be found and it is something that undermines societies, the efforts of governments and men and women of good will who try to build their own societies. And the UN has passed a General Assembly Resolution against corruption, we have a convention against corruption and we are working in our own development programs with governments to strengthen their institutions and to fight corruption. And I hope one of the issues that will be on the Agenda in Monterrey when we discuss corruption is how we repatriate monies that have been stolen from countries and put in banks in Western capitals and other capitals away from their own countries. If we have a mechanism for repatriating these amounts, I think not only would it be beneficial to the countries concerned but it would also dissuade those who would be inclined to engage in those kinds of activities. And let me add that with modern information technology and through cooperation among governments, it ought to be possible to track these sums. And in some cases it is already being done and some monies are being repatriated to third world countries.
Q: [Translated from Spanish] Given the recent experience in Argentina, do you think that you could ask in Monterrey for more flexibility for the enhanced structural adjustment programs and the multilateral donors such as the World Bank and the IMF?
S-G: A lot has happened with the programs of the IMF and the World Bank and I am not sure that one can say that the financial crisis and the economic crisis of Argentina is due to the fault of the World Bank or the IMF. Where does the fault lie? Does it lie with the policies of the government, with structural adjustment, the position of the IMF? I'm not sure that one can entirely blame the IMF and I think that we need to look at the situation much more closely before we blame structural adjustment for the difficulties Argentina is facing.
[The President was asked a question in Spanish which he answered in Spanish.]
Q: [Translated from Spanish] My question has to do with social aspects of Nicaragua. In the past, the UN was committed to helping achieve peace and helped with the Esquipulas accords. Now that we are at peace, what is the UN's commitment in economic and social terms.
S-G: First of all, I'm happy that we had a lady ask a question. I was wondering what was happening to gender balance. Let me say that on the issue of economic and social development, you'll be pleased to know that 80% of my discussion with the President was on that issue, on the vision for economic development of this country and what the UN and its agencies will do to help. We are committed and in fact we know that peace is not sustainable if you do not deal with the economic and social environment. And in fact we see economic development as an essential part of political development and stability for a country.
I have indicated to the President that the UN agencies here are doing what they can but we will redouble our efforts to work with the President and the government and we have discussed some specific things that we will be doing. And we also, as the UN, are very strong advocates of development assistance for countries like Nicaragua and we raise our voices in international fora for conditions to be improved in countries like yours and will continue to do that.
Press encounter following briefing to the Security Council on Iraq, UNHQ, 8 March 2002 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. I just briefed the Security Council on negotiations with the Iraqi Foreign Minister yesterday and I informed the Council that we did discuss core issues. The Iraqis, of course, had their own set of questions which yesterday we shared with you. But those questions were posed in terms of seeking clarification and wanting to know answers, but not as preconditions.
The Council generally encourages me to go ahead with the discussions with the Iraqis, on the understanding that we are talking of the implementation of all Security Council resolutions, and that we will focus on the core issues.
As I mentioned yesterday, I expect to continue the talks with the Iraqis in mid-April. We are both looking at our calendars and we will firm up the dates and then I will let you know.
SG: Basically, what I am saying is, we agreed to meet without preconditions and that they were coming to discuss implementation of [Security Council] resolutions.
You are right, the questions that they raised were related to issues of no-fly zone; the way UNMOVIC was going to work; its terms of reference and methods of work and that sort of thing.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, did the Iraqis indicate that they are willing to return the Kuwaiti archives and why find other concrete ways as Ambassador Vorontsov is already in [resolution] 1284.
SG: We discussed the need to deal with the question of POWs and missing persons. Of course, Iraq has indicated that they have their own list of missing persons which was well over a thousand. On the question of [Kuwaiti] property they did indicate to me that they had certain items that they would want to return and we have agreed that we will work out some practical means for returning the material. I think what is important is that they move on with compliance and return whatever they have and we will pursue that avenue.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, [inaudible] some discussion of terms of reference for UNMOVIC. Is that a general indication that the Iraqis will in fact let UNMOVIC inspectors back into Iraq?
SG: I think it is significant that we discussed the specific issue of the inspectors with the presence of Hans Blix and the head of their own monitoring team, General Amin, who was in the meeting as well. I think it is an indication, at least for now, that they are taking this issue seriously. I don't want us to run ahead of ourselves and declare success. We are at a very early stage yet, so we should not claim success or failure yet. We are at a very, very early beginning. But it was a good start.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you confident that the U.S. will give you enough time to solve this diplomatically. You mentioned this yesterday, this need to do this, and today you say you have the backing of the Security Council to go ahead with these talks. What is your feeling on this issue?
SG: I am guided by the Security Council resolutions and by the work of the Council. The Council would want to see its resolutions implemented. They would hope that these talks will move on expeditiously and yield results that will send in the inspectors. So I am focussed on that, and I hope all Council members who, as I said right now, have given me their endorsement, will work with me in that direction.
Q: [Do you think it's time to lift the sanctions on Iraq?]
SG: I think, if the issue is compliance, and the return of the inspectors to ensure that they have complied, it would depend on how quickly we get the inspectors in and how quickly we disarm, and that will lead to the lifting of sanctions. Thank you very much.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 7 March 2002 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I see you get up so early. Let me say that I am looking forward to my discussions with the Foreign Minister. I hope they are coming in a constructive spirit, and we will be discussing the Council resolutions and their implementation. I don't think I can say more. We will find out at the end of the talks.
Q: Tell us a bit about the items on the agenda that are most important for you.
SG: Obviously, we are going to be discussing the implementation of the Security Council resolutions, and we will be pressing for the return of the Inspectors.
Q: This is the first time Dr. Blix will be in the talks - what does that mean? Where will you take it? Is that the priority - the return of the inspectors?
SG: The question of the inspectors and return of the inspectors has been one of the key bone of contentions between the United Nations and Iraq, and I would hope that - and they also have a disarmament expert on their team - that we will be able to get into that subject. And you would also notice that this is the first time the Chief of the Inspection Team has been part of the discussion.
Q: With or without linkage or association with the suspension of sanctions or any sort of thing like 1284.
SG: We are talking about implementation of Security Council resolutions. The eventual suspension of sanctions, once Iraq has performed, is part of the discussion.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how important are these talks in the series of talks in staving off any future military action or a widening conflict in the region?
SG: I wouldn't want to see a widening conflict in the region. I think we have our hands full with the tragedy that is going there already. So I would want to see a situation where we are able to resolve our differences diplomatically and that Iraq comes into compliance. And we can move on on this. If that is done I don't think the Council will take any further action, but let the resolutions stand and move ahead with its implication.
Q: Do you think he comes with that spirit?
SG: I haven't met him yet. I hope - I am getting indications from some sources and some governments close to Iraq - governments who are friendly with Iraq, that Iraq is coming in that spirit, or they sense some flexibility on the part of Iraq. But I will find out in a couple of hours.
Q: What impact do you think US threats, failed or otherwise, may have had in propelling them to the table or should have in terms of a role in getting them to sit down?
SG: There are some who believe that the threats have propelled them to demand the talks. But I really do not know. As you are all aware the Secretary-General of the Arab League Amre Moussa was in Baghdad to discuss this issue with them. And he was the one who initiated the steps that led to this meeting that we are going to hold this morning. I know that regional leaders would want to see this issue settled peacefully. And they are all looking forward to a positive outcome that they would also ensure to take it up in Beirut in the Arab Summit.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 4 March 2002 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, in light of the escalating violence in the Middle East, do you think that it is even realistic to consider addressing Crown Prince Abdullah's vision for a settlement at this time?
SG: I think the tragic situation should prepare us to continue our search for a solution, and I think as I have said before the [Security] Council, we really need to look at all creative ideas and try to help the parties come back from the brink, and therefore I don't think what has happened should detract us from focussing on the search for a durable solution and attempt to bring the parties to the table and to break the impasse. I believe that it is when the killing is going on that it is even more urgent to intensify the search for peace, and I therefore think that the Crown Prince's ideas are still very useful and should be pursued.
Q: On Iraq, what are your expectations for the meeting on Thursday, and are you concerned the U.S. might launch a strike?
SG: I think I am going to discuss with the Iraqi delegation the implementation of Security Council resolutions and the return of the inspectors. That is the basis on which I am going to discuss with the Iraqis. As far as the U.S. intentions, I cannot speak for Washington. I have no evidence or no communication or indication that the U.S. attack on Iraq is imminent, so I would prefer not to be drawn on that at this stage.
Q: Monsieur le Secretaire-General, en français si vous voulez bien. Le "oui" au referendum sur la décision de la Suisse a été remporté d'une courte majorité hier. Quel est vôtre sentiment, qu'est-ce que vous avez envi de dire aux suisses qui ont voté "non" hier?
SG: Je suis très content que les suisses ont voté "oui". Je suis sur que tous les états membres sont très heureux de recevoir les suisses ici. J'éspère que la Suisse qui a toujours joue un rôle important sur le plan international surtout dans le domaine humanitaire, maintenant peut jouer pleinement [inaudible] comme membre des Nations Unies.
Q: Vous pensez que les inquiétudes sur la neutralité Suisse vont être levées?
SG: Je ne crois pas que ça pose un problème. Je crois que cela a été assez discuté pendant les elections et j'éspère que tout le monde a compris qu'on peut être membre des Nations Unies et avoir sa propre souveraineté, ça n'empêche pas que les suisses aient sa propre politique sur un certain nombre de choses.
Q: Could we have that answer in English, your reaction on the Swiss vote?
SG: I said I am extremely happy that the Swiss have voted to join the United Nations, and I am not the only one. I trust all 189 member states welcome Switzerland with open arms. As to whether this affects Swiss neutrality or not, I believe that their adhesion to the U.N. should not affect Swiss sovereignty and Switzerland as a government is free to exercise its choice within and without the Organization. And so I would hope that once they have joined the UN they would continue to play the very constructive role they have played in humanitarian, developmental and peace efforts with UN agencies and with the UN.
Q: As a resident of New York do you feel that you should have been notified that authorities in Washington were concerned that there was a loose nuclear weapon that could have been detonated in New York in October, and were you notified?
SG: I was not notified and I am not unduly distressed that I was not notified. I don't think I could have done much with the information. What was important was that the authorities who have the responsibility for security did what had to be done.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the abuse of children in Africa, are you satisfied with the investigations as they are now, or do you want them to be pursued and to go really to the end of the matter?
SG: We have done a preliminary investigation which was done by the High Commissioner for Refugees and [CARE*]. Now a team is on the ground doing further investigation because the early indications seemed to indicate there were grounds for us to get deeper into the matter. When that report is received, as I have indicated, we will take firm measures and there will be zero tolerance within the U.N. family for this sort of behaviour.
Q: Sir, do you have any indication from the Iraqis ahead of time on whether they are willing to talk about letting inspectors back in.
SG: We will find out. We are only two days away. We will meet on the 7th. It is very much on my agenda. Let's be patient. On the 7th we will know what they think.
Q: What do you think of Washington's attempt to say now it's the time to stop the International Criminal Court tribunals?
SG: I think we have always known that Washington has not fully supported the establishment of international courts, and I think that statement you are referring to is an extension of that debate and that discussion. I don't think there is anything new in it. What I thought was odd was that the attack came at a critical time when Milosevic was on trial in the Hague and in fact the [Security] Council itself was discussing the future of these courts. We do not intend these courts to be everlasting. As soon as we've finished our work those courts will be shut down, and I hope by then the International Criminal Court would have been established.
Q: Mr. Secretary, is there a specific direction you would like to see the United States take in relation to bringing the parties in Israel and Palestine to the negotiation table.
SG: Washington has been active on this issue, and I understand General Zinni may go back. I also know that Assistant Secretary of State Burns is in the region. We as a quartet have been working together - by quartet I mean the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation, and myself - and we will continue our efforts to try and help the parties come back from the brink. It is an extremely dangerous situation now. I send my deepest sympathies to the families - both Israeli and Palestinian - who have lost loved ones, and I appeal to the leaders to do whatever they can and whatever possible to stop the cycle of violence, this cycle of revenge, where only the innocent and unarmed civilians often get caught in the middle. So we will continue our efforts but I think the leaders also have a role to play.
* The Secretary-General intended to say "Save the Children-UK".
Press encounter following meeting on the Global Compact, Berlin, 1 March 2002 (unofficial transcript)
SG: We've just had a meeting on the Global Compact with business leaders, trade unionists and NGO [non-governmental organization] participants. We discussed the need to make the Global Compact work and to implement the nine principles that they have all embraced covering human rights, environment and core labour standards.
I was very encouraged to see the progress being made, the seriousness with which the German companies, trade unions and NGOs take this initiative. And we've all promised we'll move forward to work even harder to apply not only to institutions in this country, but around the world.
And what also came out that was very encouraging is the fact that the workers of all these companies are very, very happy to be working for something positive, something ethical, something that is socially responsible and gives something back to society.
Thank you very much.
Press encounter with German Federal Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping, Berlin, 28 February 2002 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I have had a very, very good meeting with the Minister, where we have discussed issues of common interest. As you can imagine, we did talk about the Balkans, we talked about Afghanistan, we discussed UN peacekeeping and how it can be strengthened, and the German contributions and participation in all these operations. And I also had the opportunity of thanking the Minister for the role German troops play in these operations. We work with them in many parts of the world, and when I was in [Afghanistan] last month I went to ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] Headquarters, and I can assure you that the ISAF troops are doing a very important and essential work. So, thank you very much, Minister, for the well-trained soldiers you've made available for these operations.
Defence Minister: If you agree, I will say it in English so that it's easier to understand for a good old friend like Kofi Annan. I assured the Secretary-General that Germany is ready and decided to support the United Nations, as far as the United Nations are concerned as an institution, because it's indispensable for international law and international stability and security.
That is why Germany is ready to support the United Nations, also by deploying armed forces, as we do it in [the former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia, in Kosovo, in Bosnia, and in Afghanistan, and in some other places on the globe. I hope that I could make understandable that in the process of reforming the German Bundeswehr, our capacities are limited and we are doing, I guess, more than many, many citizens in Germany ever expected on the one hand, and that is also with respect and compliments to the members of German armed forces, who are doing their job, as you said, Kofi, in an excellent way and you can be sure that, in that framework of United Nations and international engagements, and with that size, you can count on us in the future too.
SG: Thank you very, very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you a little bit disappointed that Germany won't be the next lead nation in Afghanistan?
SG: The issue of the lead nation is on the table and is being discussed between capitals and I am also discussing it with other governments. Germany has explained to me why they are not in a position to do that, so I presume the search will have to go on.
Q: But it would have been the best solution for you, Germany as the lead nation?
SG: Well, I would have welcomed it if it were possible. If it were possible. Thank you very much.
Press conference with German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, Berlin, 28 February 2002 (unofficial transcript)
Chancellor [As translated from German by the official interpreter.]: Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. I am, as you might easily imagine, extremely pleased indeed that the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has come to Germany once more. We welcome him most warmly. And I was also very, very pleased to see how warmly welcomed his speech was that he delivered this morning in the Bundestag plenary building. All political parties agreed in unison that it was a great speech and it got a lot of support and praise. The co-operation with the United Nations, and obviously the support of the work done by the United Nations, is an essential core of foreign political decision making in Germany.
In view of this background, the Secretary-General and myself have had a very extended conversation about the problems that we are faced with today in the field of international foreign and security policy. In this framework, we both found it very, very important to formulate and then to make sure that it is also implemented - a term and a concept of security today, that this is a more holistic concept than just focusing it on the military implementation thereof. We very much agreed that in fact this was a prime job to be done by the Europeans, that they had to make sure that this more holistic concept of this term "security", namely including features of development policy, of the social dimension, and the ecological dimension, were very important, too.
We have then spoken in very concrete terms about the situation on the Balkans, about the situation in Afghanistan, and about the situation in the Middle East.
Obviously those were only some topics amongst many more, but those were the ones we specifically focused on. Now addressing the subject of the Balkans, we were strongly agreed that in fact a success has already been reached by the United Nations Representative, Michael Steiner, who has contributed to the fact that there will now be a government in Kosovo which will contribute tremendously to the stability of that region.
The Secretary-General has also gone in and strongly welcomed the stabilizing role that Germany has taken on and does take on in the Balkans today, and as you all know, we have been called upon by the [former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonian Government and the President of [the former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia, and we have obviously agreed this action with other European partners, that we shall be extending the role of lead nation in [the former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia.
As to Afghanistan, the role that Germany has taken in that part of the world, and particularly the role that German soldiers have taken in that part of the world, has been warmly appreciated; and we have also gone in and we have said that we are not thinking about restricting our presence, not thinking about reducing our presence, in this part of the world. We have forces there, that we would possibly be ready to talk about an extension, in terms of time, for our deployment of our soldiers to Afghanistan. Now it is obvious, and I would like to therefore emphasize this fact, that Germany is clearly unable in military terms to take on the role as lead nation in Afghanistan. This is predominantly due to the fact that we are so strongly represented in the Balkans already. I would also not like to conceal the fact that we feel a certain degree of reservation when it is about geographically expanding the mandate over there.
As to the situation in the Middle East, we very strongly share the marked concern that is about the situation in the region and we very much think it is necessary to try to take any hope and any vehicle to hope to return to the negotiation process if at all possible. And we would also like to emphasize that we both very much appreciate the mission undertaken by Saudi Arabia to that effect.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Chancellor. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me once again say how happy I am to be back in Germany and to be able to resume this dialogue with the Chancellor on the important issues of the day.
I think the Chancellor has given you a comprehensive idea of what our discussions were about this afternoon, but I would want to add, in the Balkans, and make an appeal to the people of Kosovo that with this Agreement which Steiner was able to negotiate with them, this Agreement that they have accepted, they will be able to form a government for the first time since the elections in November. It is absolutely important that they stick to the Agreement to form the Government and get about the business of governing and focus on the affairs of the people. If they can put their differences behind them, and put the interest of the people and the territory first, they should find ways and means of compromising and getting the job done.
So I appeal to the leaders of Kosovo to show wisdom and leadership at this critical stage and also applaud the success of Steiner and the UN team on the ground.
On the Middle East, if I may say a word, is an issue that has pre-occupied all of us extensively, and recently there are many interesting ideas, particularly the proposal from Saudi Arabia, which comes at an important time and from a quarter that one had not expected to make that proposal at this time. I think it is extremely important that we consider it very seriously as we search for ways and means to break the current tragic impasse in the region.
I think this is a real challenge for the international community to work together to find a way out and I should say that I really appreciate all the work the quartet has been trying to do for a while, the quartet meaning the European Union, the United States, the Russian Federation and the UN, pooling our efforts on this crisis in the Middle East.
And let me conclude my remarks by thanking you, Mr. Chancellor, for your leadership and the support you, and the German people, have given to the UN and the international efforts, not only in the Balkans, but what you are doing now in Afghanistan - the lead role you have taken on in preparing the Afghan National Police and the work you do in developmental and humanitarian aspects of our work. And I do thank you and the people for this important contribution.
Q: Mr. Annan, if I may ask, as someone who has negotiated with Saddam Hussein, how do you assess the likelihood that he will allow the resumption of inspections and that that inspection process will continue and be effective in defusing the current tension with the United States?
SG: As you know, I have agreed to receive an Iraqi delegation in New York on the 7th of March to discuss implementation of Security Council resolutions, including the return of the inspectors to Iraq.
Our last encounter was over a year ago, about a year; it was February last year. Any they will come, I hope, in a constructive and open mood to discuss frankly with me how we get the inspectors back and how they cooperate with the UN.
All their friends, in the region and beyond the region, are telling them to cooperate with the Security Council, and I hope they will. I will know a bit better after I've sat with them. I would only have to hope that they are coming in a constructive spirit.
Q [Translated from German.]: Do you think that the Saudi proposal can be put into effect?
Chancellor: I think the Secretary-General already answered that question, so why don't you just take that for the answer to the question you just put to me.
Q [Translated from German.]: Chancellor, the newspapers are talking about the fact that if Germany were not to take on the role as lead nation, might it possibly be happy to take on what is described as a coordinating role in that region and would you like to see yourself wearing that hat, Chancellor? And then a question to the Secretary-General, you see the present degree of commitment that Germany has shown to Afghanistan, would you expect more of Germany when it comes to Afghanistan?
Chancellor: Now obviously, one can always read lots of things in newspapers, which goes without saying, because newspapers need to be filled, day in, day out, which obviously is a complicated job. But let me say we are wearing a full suit when it comes to this and we do feel satisfied.
SG: On the second part of your question, I have had discussions in Parliament and with the Chancellor and I personally believe that Germany is doing quite a lot for Afghanistan and I applaud their efforts. There has to be burden-sharing and we are encouraging other governments also to step up.
Q [Translated from German.]: My name is Neuhaus and my question is addressed to His Excellency the Secretary-General. Firstly Secretary-General, how is the financial situation of the United Nations at this point in time, and do you expect a stronger contribution from Germany?
SG: Let me first say that the financial situation of the United Nations is not relaxed as a newspaper reported yesterday.
Chancellor: The same as Germany!
SG: It's improved, but we still need resources. It's improved in the sense that member states, including the United States last year, paid a substantial amount of their arrears and are paying their regular contribution to the UN Budget, but we are facing financial restrictions in the area of economic and humanitarian assistance. The development and the humanitarian assistance budgets are being squeezed because governments are pleading that given the current economic financial and economic environment, their own budgets are having to be cut and therefore they will have to reduce their assistance.
And I have pleaded with governments that given what is happening in the world and our own fight today against terrorism and our discussions about human security, we need to stay committed to the issue of economic development for the long term. Even if one has a temporary difficulty at the moment, we should make a longer term commitment to help the poorer countries do better and to commit ourselves to removing the inequalities between nations and within nations.
And we're going to have a chance to discuss this issue at the Conference on Financing for Development in Monterey and I hope governments will come prepared to make a difference, they will come prepared to get out a message that we are not going to continue doing business as usual and that the world has changed and we are all looking at security in a much broader sense and are prepared not only to engage the political will, but also to make the resources available to get the job done. Thank you very much.
Press encounter outside No. 10 Downing Street, London, 25 February 2002 (unofficial transcript)
Q: May I ask you about the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians sliding into the abyss?
SG: That was one of the topics I discussed with the Prime Minister. We talked about Afghanistan, the Middle East, African development, and earlier in the day I had met with the Deputy Prime Minister [John Prescott] and the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Gordon Brown] to discuss financing for development and other development issues and later on this afternoon I'll be speaking on sustainable development at the London School of Economics.
But as to your specific question you are right that I am worried. I am concerned about the tragedy going on in the Middle East and I'm not the only one. The Prime Minister shares this concern and I think it is important that we find some creative ways of breaking the impasse and getting the people back to the table. And here I'm talking of ideas beyond Mitchell and Tenet. We have tried that for a year or so but we haven't been able to move forward. The killing and the tragedy continue. And interesting ideas are being put forward, in addition to those on the Table. And I thought the statement from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was an important one, which also should be factored in, as we try to come forward with ideas to break the impasse.
Q: I understand that you talked about Africa. Is there anything more that the United Nations or Great Britain or the Commonwealth can do to ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe? There doesn't seem to be much chance of that.
SG: The situation in Zimbabwe is worrying. And I believe that the people of Zimbabwe should be given a chance for a free and fair election, and once they have voted the voice of the people must be respected. It was unfortunate that the European Union monitors had to leave the country. But I would appeal to the Government of Zimbabwe not to interfere with the Process and allow the people of that country to express themselves freely and willingly at the next elections.
Q: What about the question of the human rights of the Guantanamo Bay detainees? Again, it appears that America wants to go down the unilateralist route rather than have some kind of consistent framework, for example under the Geneva Conventions.
SG: I think this is one where there has also been some disagreement. The Americans have now agreed that the Taliban prisoners are prisoners of war. The Red Cross has indicated that anyone who was arrested in the battlefield, or picked up in the battlefield, is a prisoner of war and they do not make a difference between the Al Qaida and the Taliban. And under the convention, where there is a disagreement, normally you have an independent tribunal to resolve this. And I hope that as the discussions go on we will find a way of resolving these issues. In the meantime, it is important that all prisoners be treated humanely, and I have been given an assurance by the Americans that on that score they are treating them humanely.
Q: Mr. Annan, I'd like to discuss Iraq [inaudible].
SG: I don't think that Washington has taken any decision yet as to what to do about Iraq. But I myself have this on record saying that I think that any attack on Iraq at this stage would be unwise. Thank you.
Washington, DC, 13 February 2002 - press encounter of the Secretary-General and U.S. Senator Joe Biden, following informal an discussion on the global impact of HIV/AIDS with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Joe Biden (D-DE): The Annan team is here today and we appreciate it very much. We discussed at length the incredible stakes for humanity that have to be dealt with this pandemic problem with HIV/AIDS. We had hearings this morning. We will have additional hearings to make not only our colleagues aware, and all are aware, but the United States aware of just what is at stake here. It is not just the humanitarian, which in and of itself is a sufficient reason for the world to mobilize, but as the Secretary-General said today there is a significant security issue here. We not only are losing those beautiful little children, and babies being born with AIDS, and mothers dying, and girls being taken advantage of because of the consequences of a thousand different things, but we are losing the entire infrastructure of societies that we, when I say we, the world has looked to to build up---- teachers, scientists, engineers, political leaders, in countries that are struggling to make their way out of the depths of economic deprivity and which are being lost. And as the Secretary-General said, we will end up with a number of failed states. We all know from experience the consequences of failed states. It leads to chaos, and havens for terrorism and genuine security issues. As I raised today in the hearing, which was separate from this meeting, the bigger the country quite frankly the higher the stakes.
So it was very very important to me as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Helms, and all the members of the Senate, that the presence of the Secretary-General and his wife, here in the capital, in the aftermath of our first hearing to demonstrate that we are working together. The United States is doing more and must do even more. It seems to me this is an area where the United States must lead. Because when we lead, I would argue, that we have a disproportionately positive impact on what the rest of the world is willing to do. And all of humanity is at stake. As Senator Frist said, many times and again today, this is the single greatest catastrophe that humanity has faced in modern history, maybe ever. And I don't know that we are fully aware just of the proportions of this problem. But the Secretary General has been the leading voice in the world to call attention to this matter. And Mrs. Annan has been a significant player in bringing to the attention of the world the impact this has on all people, particularly woman. So I want to thank them both for being here and tell them that their presence here matters. It matters in this body because of the incredible respect that so many Senators on both side of the aisle have for the Secretary-General. And so I thank you Mr. Secretary. I promise you that we will do all we can to not only maintain, but increase our participation in dealing with this problem. And with that, I would like to turn the microphone over to you and Mr. Annan.
SG: Thank you Chairman Biden. First of all Nane and I would want to thank you and the Committee for meeting with us this afternoon. I appreciate the leadership that you are showing on this issue and I couldn't agree with you more that a leadership role by the US, this Senate, the President and the entire leadership will have a very huge impact on our attempts to fight this disease. I would also want to emphasize what the Senator said, that this is not just a health issue, it is an economic, and security issue. It is a disease that has hit Africa the hardest, but lets not make and mistake, it is a global problem. It is growing very fast in other parts of the world and if we do not focus enough energy and effort on this disease, we are going to really have problems of even greater proportions to tackle. I think we can make a difference. I think we can contain the disease. But what is required is sustained political will, and the resources to do it. I would also want to say that it does require complete social mobilization of entire societies. This is not something that we leave to governments alone. We need the private sector, we need NGO's, civil society, we need individuals and we need you, ladies and gentleman of the press, to be engaged in the campaign and get the word out as to how dangerous this is, and what we need to do to defeat it. Thank you.
Senator Biden: Mrs. Annan would you like to say anything?
Mrs. Annan: I am also very grateful for whatever you will be doing because I have been traveling with my husband. I've been to the AIDs hospitals and seen the bare beds with young girls, men and women are dying. I met with the AIDS orphans and I remember 3 little children in this very dark room in Eritrea. The oldest girl was ten. She was confused because her parents had died and she just buried her little sister. So thank you so much for whatever you can do.
Salt Lake City, 9 February 2002 - press encounter following tour of Olympic Village, Salt Lake City
Q: What are your impressions of these Games?
SG: I think it an extremely organized game. I think you should know that for Nane and myself this is our first Olympics so we have been extremely impressed by what we have seen and the way it's been organized. Every one here has been very very friendly. And to see all these countries come together, at time in the world we are talking of divisions, putting those divisions behind them and cooperating and participating for the fun for games and the sake of the games. Yes, so may win but others may have their personal best in challenging themselves. So really it is competition with the individual seeing how far he or she can go.
So we are extremely happy to be here. For a rookie Olympian, I could not have asked for anything better.
Q: As a Swiss I have to ask you, when Mr. Ogi [The Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace] started his work he said that sports could make the world a better place, but now we see that it needs army and police to protect the sport. What has gone wrong?
SG: I hope this is a temporary phase. What you've seen here and the fact that one needs security does not take anything away from the statement that Mr. Ogi made, but it does mean that we need to work harder to bring people together, to bring peace to bring development, to resolve conflict so that we can live in harmony and the amount of resources that we use for security can be used for other purposes when we get to that stage.
Q: What did you think of the opening ceremonies?
SG: We were at the opening ceremonies. [inaudible]. We were very moved to see that many people, to see all the athletes parade. For a tropical child I was worried about them, thinking they must be cold, but they told me they were not and I need not have worried about them. It was a very moving evening.
Q: This morning the Dutch government said it would give 5 million Euros to Olympic aid.
SG: That was a very generous contribution to a worthwhile cause. Olympic Aid is a very dynamic organization that is working very closely with the Olympic Committee and will also work very closely with UN agencies - World Health Organization, UNICEF, UN High Commissioner for Refugees - for us to really get children involved in sports as a tool to bring communities and different ethnic groups together. It's better to get them to play than to fight.
Vienna, Austria, 30 January 2002 - address to UN staff at the Vienna International Centre
[The Secretary-General was welcomed by Officer-in-Charge of UNOV/ODCCP, Steinar B. Bjornsson].
SG: Thank you very much, Steinar, for that introduction. My dear friends and colleagues, let me start by thanking you for the very warm welcome you have given me this morning and to see that you have turned out in your numbers to listen to me this morning. I believe the Vienna-based organizations are crucial and a unique part of the United Nations family. I am one of those lucky ones. I travel around the world but wherever I go I have a family. Sometimes its small sometimes its large and the family here, as I can see this morning, is very large indeed. But your work has deep and personal significance for every individual on our planet, whether they are aware of it or not.
As you know, I have just come from Afghanistan, where I visited not only Afghanistan but went to Tokyo for the donor conference and then on to Islamabad, Kabul, and then to Teheran. All the major challenges that the United Nations is facing, that we have on our agenda, is evident in that country. The international community must help ensure that this proves to be a turning point in the history of the people of Afghanistan. On that visit I realized there was hope and there is reason for hope. Chairman [Hamid] Karzai and the Interim Authority have made an impressive start. My own representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, and his team are working very hard in following up on the implementation of the Bonn Agreement with the Afghan Interim Authority. Whilst I was there, he completed the selection of the 21-person commission that will organize a Loya Jirga and that had also been announced. As I said during my visit to Kabul, this is an opportunity that the Afghan people must seize. The United Nations will be on their side to help them translate this support into step-by-step action on their path to stability and progress.
In that process, many of you here in Vienna have a crucial contribution to make. The need to replace opium cultivation in Afghanistan with substitute crops and other economic activities is even more pressing today than ever. Indeed, that subject was high on the agenda in the talks I had with Chairman Karzai and the other cabinet members as well as in Iran and in Pakistan. The ODCCP [Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention] will have a key role to play in helping Afghanistan act on this intention to wipe out opium poppies forever. Though your work to combat transnational crime, money laundering, you also have an essential part to play in UN efforts to fight terrorism world wide and I've discussed this with some of the Ambassadors here this morning.
All the staff in Vienna, whether you work in arms control, nuclear energy, development or other areas, will have a crucial role to play in the months and years ahead as we pursue our overriding mission world wide to meet the millennium goals and work for freedom from fear, freedom from want and protection of the resources of this planet. In pursuing those goals, our guiding motto must be to put people at the center of everything that we do.
We start this year greatly encouraged by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, as you heard. I think it's a recognition both for the achievements and the potential of our organization. As you know the Nobel Committee in its citation wished to proclaim that the only negotiable route to global peace and cooperation goes by the way of the United Nations. In a world that is growing ever closer and more interconnected and yet still driven by poverty, brutal conflict and cruel injustice, it is more important than ever that humanity travel that route and that all of us work hard to pave the road ahead of it. There can, therefore, be no let up in our ongoing task of creating a new United Nations for a new century.
We must build on what works and discard bad habits that do not. We must be prepared to work with others in partnership. The UN cannot tackle the issues we are confronted with alone. I have stressed that as an organization we should know what we can do, what are our limitations, what we need to do with others, what we have to leave others to do and reach out and work in partnership with civil society, the private sector, foundations, universities and really move ahead. By doing that and working in partnership we are able to expand our capacity and, through pooling of resources and efforts, have greater impact on the challenges confronting us.
We must put modern management practices in place. We must enhance our enormous in-house talents and provide more and better opportunities for career development while bringing in fresh young people and skills that are the keys to the success of any enterprise. I know that here at UNOV [United Nations Office at Vienna] the period of transition has been rather unsettling for some of you, but each organization goes through transitions and you are going through one now. But I can assure you it will not be for long. And let me thank each and everyone of you for your professionalism, for you dedication and loyalty that you have displayed throughout this difficult period. I assure you we are doing everything possible to ensure that you have the right leadership and you can carry on your work smoothly and settle down as quickly as possible.
Perhaps I should pause here and see if any of you have questions that you may want to put to me or advice you may want to give me or comment. Let's open the floor and see who wants to give me some advice. [applause]
I think I see the hand of your fearless leader, the President of the Staff Council. [laughter]
Q: [President UNOV Staff Council] It's only one fearless leader. Mr. Secretary-General it is indeed an honor to have you here and on behalf of the UNOV and the ODCCP staff I suppose on behalf of the others I welcome you. In your opening remarks, you have mentioned that this is a rather large gathering of staff and I think that the last large gathering of staff we had was for a moment of silence that the Staff Council organized outside at our Peace Bell on the 13th September, just after the terrorist attacks in New York. That was a sad occasion and this is a more joyous occasion having you here with us today. I have just one question. You had mentioned that this duty station would play a role in the post September 11th agenda of the United Nations. You talked about the drug and crime programmes in particular, the terrorism programme. What do you see is the role of some of the other programmes here in Vienna and what is your feeling about the level of confidence that the governments have in our duty station across the board: drugs, crime, terrorism the Atomic Energy Agency, CTBTO, UNIDO? What is your general impression of how this duty station is perceived and is there something that staff councils can do, and staff at large can do, to advance that perception?
SG: I think that as far as the staff is concerned I would encourage you to do your work and focus on what you are assigned to do and also be cooperative with each other. And where you have suggestions and advice for your bosses, don't be bashful, give them the suggestions. They may accept it, they may discard it but you should not be discouraged if the advice is not taken. Try again tomorrow; you may have an idea that your bosses would want to take.
I think that the role and the work of each agency in this duty station is important. In fact, in my meetings with the Ambassadors this morning this issue came up when we discussed the Conference on Sustainable Development in South Africa pointing out that several units here are also working for sustainable development. Whether it is in the area of corruption or energy, it's all inter-linked. The work that the [International] Atomic [Energy] Agency does here is extremely important and I think they now have a team in Iraq, which is in the interest of all of us. So each agency's work and each individual's work is important, whatever your assignment, whether you're a secretary, clerk or a director or an Under-Secretary-General, if we all focused and did what we were supposed to do and do it effectively, I think collectively we will make a major contribution. [applause]
Q: Good morning. You just mentioned the Tokyo Conference and we have seen that countries were very generous with reconstruction in Afghanistan but I think that one of your concerns was that focussing on Afghanistan should not neglect other priorities within the UN. And we are seeing countries that are cutting overall development assistance but being very generous in the case of Afghanistan. So is your concern getting through to governments and donors?
SG: I think we are trying very hard and we are going to persevere. And it's not only Afghanistan but we also need to be careful that as we press ahead with the fight against terrorism we don't focus on that to the detriment of everything else. None of the issues that existed or the problems that existed on 10th September have gone away. In fact, we have more urgent reasons now to tackle the issue of poverty, conflict, disease, environment and this is a message that I am giving to the governments. We will have a chance to discuss this also in Monterrey, where we are going to have the conference on Financing for Development. And one of the key issues will be the question of overseas development assistance, where there is a proposal that the donor governments should try and double the assistance given to the poorer nations, which will mean 50 billion dollars additional per year. That will bring their contribution to 0.4 %, still short of the 0.7 % of GDP that they willingly agreed to offer as assistance to developing countries. So there is lots of discussion going on and it will come to a head in Monterrey in March and we will see what progress we will make there.
If there are no more questions, let me thank you very, very much and I am really very happy to be able to meet with you this morning. I am sorry I am not able to come to Vienna as often as I would like to but time has become my biggest enemy. But I hope that it will not be long before we see each other. Thank you very much. [applause]
Vienna, Austria - Press encounter after meeting with Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, 30 January 2002 (unofficial transcript)
SG: The Secretary-General of the Arab League [Amre Moussa] came to see me this morning to share with me his impressions following his visit to Iraq. As you know, he's just has been there, so he briefed me on that and we also spoke about the developments in the Middle East, the fight against terrorism and we touched briefly on the situation in Afghanistan.
Mr. Moussa: Thank you very much Mr. Secretary-General. I am very glad and satisfied with this important meeting. I reported to the Secretary-General my impressions about my meetings in Baghdad and also the situation in the Middle East in the occupied territories and the dangers inherent in the situation in the Middle East in general. There we talked, as the Secretary-General has just said, about the Afghani situation and about the future of this vast region. I must say that our discussions touched on very, very important issues and sensitive issues. I am glad that the Secretary-General and I have agreed to meet again in the near future in New York to go further into the discussions about those issues.
Q: Do you have any ideas what the Arab League can do to help the situation in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Do you have any new proposals?
Mr. Moussa: Well, there are a lot of proposals and initiatives and the table is full of papers and ideas. The important thing is for the authorities of occupation to reverse their attitude and put an end to their presence and siege, closure of territories and the imprisonment of Chairman Arafat. The situation is so serious in the occupied territories that the continuation of foreign occupation cannot but lead again to a very severe reaction and resistance.
Q: Wasn't Chairman Arafat somewhat responsible for what's happened there? He hasn't arrested a number of people that where allegedly involved in terrorist activities against the Israelis?
Mr. Moussa: Well, I must say that this way of putting all the responsibility on the shoulder of one party is really very destructive. If you ask me about responsibility of both, Mr. Sharon and Mr. Arafat, I would be able to respond to you.
Q: What about Mr. Sharon? Wouldn't you like to say a word about that?
Mr. Moussa: Yes, I'd love to, not only a word. [laughter]
Raiffeisen Zentralbank, Vienna, Austria, 29 January 2002 - on the occasion of the opening of a UN Poster Exhibition, "For a Better World"
Foreign Minister, Director-General, dear friends,
Let me start by telling you how happy Nane and I are to be here in Vienna, one of the UN major headquarters, and in a city where, over the years, we've got to know reasonably well and have many friends here in the city, friends on a personal level and friends of the United Nations. So to be visiting Vienna at a time when this exhibition has arrived, and, as the Foreign Minister said, it is an exhibition that has traveled around the world. And I don't know who is following whom, whether I'm following the exhibition or the exhibition is following me.
I first opened the exhibit in New York and then visited it again in Oslo. And here I am, in Vienna, doing the same thing, and I don't know where next. But as the Minister said, the poster covers a whole range of issues and it really gives an idea of what the UN has been doing since its creation. Dealing with issues of real concern to people, dealing with the needs of the people and, name it, whatever the topic, the UN has dealt with it. We've advocated, and these posters in a way, tell us graphically, the kinds of issues the United Nations has been dealing with. So to have a situation where the human aspiration and art comes together -- and we use the art and the artist to get the message across -- is a wonderful way to communicate.
But I was also intrigued by what the Director-General said about bringing the UN and the private sector together. Right from the beginning, when I took over as Secretary-General, I made it clear that the United Nations cannot do everything by itself, and that we need to work in partnership, partnerships with the private sector, civil society foundations and universities. And that as an organization we need to know what we can do, what we cannot do, what we need to do with others and what we have to leave for others to do. And in that spirit I've been reaching out, working with a large group of stakeholders.
I know at the beginning in New York when I suggested that we should open up the organization and I wanted to bring it closer to the people and work with the private sector, some of the permanent representatives were a bit worried. Why is the Secretary-General doing this? Where is his mandate? Who gave him the mandate? And my answer was simple: let's start with our own Charter. The Charter begins with the phrase, "We the peoples". The peoples were not in the glass house in New York. They were outside that building and around the world and we had to reach out to them.
Some were concerned that if the private sector got involved in the UN, they will interfere with the decision-making. I was certain it will not happen, but that the governments can take their decisions, but of course they have to bear in mind the views of all sectors -- private sector, civil society and all that. And I think the argument was settled when Ted Turner agreed to give us a billion dollars, but did not insist he wanted to take over the General Assembly or the Security Council. [laughter]
And that was the end of the debate. And today we are working very effectively with the private sector and NGOs and trade unions and I think the documents out there, I suspect, deals with the Global Compact, where I have urged corporations, regardless of where their operations are, to respect certain core principles in the areas of human rights, environment and core labor standards. And I hope with this spirit and attempt to change the norms and encourage corporations to be good social citizens, corporate citizens, it will be helpful for all of us. And I want to say thank you to you, Madame Foreign Minister and Director-General, for hosting this exhibition at the center of Vienna, where the people can get to much easier than at the UN headquarters.
So thank you very much for this event and thank you also for coming in your numbers, which I see a sign of support for the UN and also an indication that this is really an artistic center and you love anything artistic, whether it's paintings, posters or music or what it may be. And I think my wife is very happy, being an artist herself, to be here with me, to see a city that is alive and enjoys art. Thank you very much.
Vienna, Austria - Press conference after meeting with Foreign Minister of Austria, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, 29 January 2002 (unofficial transcript)
[The Austrian Foreign Minister first made an opening statement in German].
SG: Thank you very much, Minister. I'm extremely happy to be back in Vienna. And as you've heard from the Minister, we've had a very exhaustive discussion on many critical topics of the day. And we have also discussed the UN operations here in Vienna and the steps we need to take to strengthen it. And I expect to also appoint a new head of our operations here very shortly.
But I think we live in a critical -- and, of course, I've often used the word -- we live in a "messy" world. And unfortunately, from my point of view, given the job I hold, the messier the world is, the more difficult and busier we get. And I hope the world will be better as we move forward, but I'm afraid I cannot say that the year  has started very well.
As the Minister has indicated, I've been to several of the trouble spots, and we're all going to work together to try and bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. To do that we need the Afghans to work together; we need the neighbors of Afghanistan to work with us in establishing a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, which is also in their own interest.
The grave situation in the Middle East is also of concern to all of us and we need to be creative in finding ways to pull the parties back from the brink of the abyss.
The Balkans we've discussed, and of course we will continue our discussions later on during the day.
Maybe we can take your questions now.
Q: [An Israeli journalist from the newspaper Ma'ariv referred to EU criticism of United States policy on the Middle East.] … one news story calling the American policy stupid and dangerous. What would be your position concerning the attitude that the international community should take in regard to the situation in the Middle East?
SG: I think the international community, I believe, should work together, to influence the situation on the ground and, in my judgment, to get the parties working together. I think we have tended to focus too much on security only. I don't think we can move forward by focusing only on security. I think the security should be linked with improvements in the conditions of the Palestinians and it should also be linked with political prospects of getting the parties to the table and discussing a settlement of their differences at the table.
I believe the international community will have to work hard, and with both parties, because that is the only way you'll be able to influence them and influence the situation. And so, the collective international action, initiative, to break the impasse and it should be sustained. And we should work with both parties.
Q: Mostafa Abdalla, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Al-Ahram newspaper, and reporter for Egyptian TV and radio [unofficial translation from German.] How does the Secretary-General see the Israeli terror vis-à-vis the Palestinians?
SG: I think I have been very frank in my assessment of the situations on the ground. And I have not condoned actions by either side that I think is against the interest of civilians who are not armed or are not involved.
So I have been very clear in the past in making statements on actions that I consider unacceptable by one side or the other. And I've also made it clear, that now that the killing is going on, innocent Israelis and Palestinians are being killed, this is the time that we should press the parties to get to the table. It is very urgent, and I do not believe that we can do so with preconditions of seven days of total peace or 48 hours of total peace. And, as I've said, if one does that, then you're giving vetoes to the extremists. Any extremist on either side can make sure you never get to the table to discuss your differences.
And I believe one should move ahead in search of peace, once you've made the strategic choice for peace, to get to the table and stay there and search for peace. But at the same time, deal firmly with extremists and terrorists. That is the only way I believe we're going to make progress in the situation.
Q: Michael Thurston, Agence France-Presse, with a question on the Middle East situation. How concerned are you about President Arafat's continuing isolation, both physical and diplomatic?
SG: Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian people. By being isolated and virtually being under house arrest makes it difficult for him to lead. He is in an extremely difficult situation. He's being asked to stop the violence. He's being asked to lead and yet, as a leader, he and his institutions are under so much pressure that I really do not see how that is going help, you know, how he is going to go about delivering what the international community is asking him to do.
And I think we need to be careful how we deal with the situation because when the leader who is supposed to act is weakened to the point of impotence, we have a real problem on our hands.
Q: Do you think the Israelis should lift the physical blockade around him or allow him more liberty?
SG: I think if he's to lead, he should have a bit more liberty to move around and talk to his people and deal with them. He must be given the space and the political time to act.
Q: On the ODCCP - I'm from the Italian News Agency ANSA - Italy has offered three possible names for the succession of Mr. Arlacchi and that means they are trying to get the next Italian there. Is it possible that he is going to change for instance for another European country offering better support for the company?
SG: I'm looking for the best candidate possible and I will select the best candidate regardless of nationality. Thank you.
Vienna, Austria - Press encounter after meeting with President Thomas Klestil of Austria, 29 January 2002 (unofficial transcript)
[The Austrian President first made a statement in German]
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. President. As you heard from the President, we've had a very good round of discussions. And in Afghanistan, I was encouraged by what I saw. I think we've started well. We have major hurdles ahead of us, not least in the area of trying to strengthen the Interim Administration and help it expand its authority throughout the country and, of course, the question of security, which should also include the development of a national Afghan army and national police.
I was very grateful to have been in Tokyo and to see how generous the international community was in terms of contributions to the Afghan reconstruction. But we need resources quickly to be able to strengthen the new Administration and I hope that would be forthcoming.
We discussed the grave situation in the Middle East and our concern for urgent action to ensure that we can pull the protagonists back from the precipice. Lots of efforts are being made to find a way out and we will continue those efforts.
And I was able to thank the President for the generous hospitality Austria, the Government and the Austrian people, have extended to the UN agencies here in Vienna. And we consider this an important UN headquarters and I make it a point of coming here at least once a year to talk to the Austrian authorities and also visit our own operations here.
So thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary, may I ask you a question about the Middle East? I'm Eugen Freund with Austrian Television. You've just described the situation as very grave. Do you see any way out of this quagmire? And how do you respond to the intent of the United States to sever its relations with the Palestinian Authority?
SG: I hope that will not happen, because we need to engage with both sides and the US, as the country that both parties are looking to for mediation, I hope, would retain its contacts with both parties, because that's the only way the mediator could be most effective. Thank you.
Doha, Qatar - interview with Al'Jazeera, 27 January 2002 - for further use please contact Al'Jazeera concerning copyright restrictions
Q: Mr. Annan, I would like to start asking about the siege of the Palestinian President in the occupied Arab territories who is under the captivity of Israeli tanks. What do you say about that? Is that legitimate?
SG: Let me first say that I am very happy to be back in Doha. I have had a very good discussion with the Emir this afternoon. We covered lots of issues of importance and of interest including the situation in the Middle East that you just referred to. I briefed him on my visit to Kabul, developments in Afghanistan and also my discussions in the region and the work that the UN was trying to do to help the Afghans establish a new administration.
Coming back to your question on the Middle East. The situation in the Middle East is very grave and very serious and we are all concerned about finding a way of breaking the impasse. I have been on the phone with Chairman Arafat myself and discussed the situation and also I am in touch with other leaders to see what steps we can take to break the impasse and get the parties back to the table. I am hopeful that if the entire international community works together and we take collective international action we'll be able to bring the parties back to the table.
Q: How do you see the American and Israeli accusations to Mr. Arafat of supporting terror?
SG: I know that the issue of the boat has been a major problem in the Middle East. I know the American Government has indicated that Chairman Arafat should do more to bring down the tension and to reduce violence. I know there is pressure on everyone in the region to fight terrorism and Chairman Arafat is in an extremely difficult situation. I'm not sure he controls everything that happens in the territory and I'm not sure that given the current situation that he is in his leadership is not going to be affected. And we need to really find a way, as I said, of getting the parties to take reciprocal steps to come back to the table.
Q: You did a lot for Afghanistan at the United Nations but we don't see anything more serious, concrete towards the Palestinian question, the Israeli-Arab conflict, in recent times. What do you think you are going to do now?
SG: Mainly the parties concerned have tended to look to the US as a mediator, both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I have myself been in touch with both parties and I have been working with the European Union, the Americans and the Russians to try to find a way of breaking the impasse, as I referred to earlier, and those efforts are going to continue and I think they should intensify.
Q: Now let's ask about the Afghanistan issue - the international troops are located in Kabul only. Do you have any plans to deploy more troops in other Afghan cities, especially in the areas, large areas, that are out of the new government's control?
SG: The agreement in Bonn which the Afghans signed which was negotiated by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, who is here with me today, requested that the international force come to Kabul and its surroundings for a period of six months. And that is the agreement that the Security Council used as a basis to authorize the multinational force to go in. So for the moment their activities are limited to Kabul and the surroundings. We have 2,000 troops there. They are not fully deployed. When they are fully deployed there will be 4,500. For the time being, as I said, they are limited to that. I do agree with you that there is a security problem outside Kabul and we need to find ways of dealing with that security problem. For that purpose, we are also discussing urgently the formation of an Afghan national army and Afghan police, and that would also help. I don't know if between now and the time that the six month period is up all the decisions will be taken but, for the time being, the force is committed to Kabul.
Q: You visited Iran. We have some reports saying that you handed to the Iranians some American demands regarding the Afghan issue. Can you tell us something about that?
SG: I did not carry any message for anybody nor hand any demands to the Iranians. We did discuss the allegations that there are some al-Qaeda elements in Iran and also the question that the boat that was carrying weapons to Palestine, there have been indications that Iran had been involved. Of course the government denies that.
Q: I have a question [inaudible] we talk about Iraq, you talk about American threats to Baghdad. Do you think that there is any reason for the United States to wage a new war against Iraq under such circumstances at such a time?
SG: Obviously, I'm not the US Government and I'm not privy to the discussions that take place in Washington. I'm not sure if any decision had been taken to hit Iraq yet. But I know that there have been discussions going on. I personally have indicated that I think it would be unwise to attack Iraq, at this stage. Besides I have no evidence linking Iraq to the terrorist attacks that took place on 11 September.
Q: What about the sanctions on Iraq, that were imposed on Iraq over the last eleven years, maybe. And the Iraqi people are suffering. Do you think that these embargo and sanctions will remain forever?
SG: I hope not. I hope not and the Security Council resolutions are clear as to what is demanded and required of Iraq and I believe that the moment Iraq has complied the sanctions should be lifted. As it stands now, this has not been fulfilled. The requirements are that the inspectors should be in Iraq and they should certify whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. And that certification has to come from the inspectors. And so we are in a catch 22 situation. The inspectors are out of Iraq and yet they are the ones who are supposed to certify the status of Iraqi disarmament for the Council to lift the sanctions. I am hearing rumors that the Iraqis may be open to cooperation with the Security Council but I have no further [unintelligible].
Q: We have some kind of American statements from time to time accusing Iraq of developing mass destruction weapons which you spoke about now. Do you think that Iraq still has such a programme and developing such weapons?
SG: I have no means certifying what they do have or do not have. As I said, the inspectors have not been in and I know that for the first six years of the disarmament process the inspectors did make some progress on some of the weapon systems. Considerable progress had been made. But they have not completed their work.
Doha, Qatar - press encounter upon arrival, 27 January 2002 (unofficial transcript)
Q: How do you see the increase of foreign troops in the region in base of the American threats to Iraq?
SG: When you talk of the increase in American troops in the region are you thinking of Afghanistan as well or are you only thinking of the Middle East?
Q: I am thinking of the Middle East because there are reports that some German troops and some American troops and so and so are coming to the region - except what is there already.
SG: I have no details of any additional troops and the numbers of troops that are coming - so I cannot comment on that.
Q: Mr. Annan, are you determined to visit Iraq trying to do something before it's too late, taking into consideration that the UN itself called the inspectors out of Iraq in 1998 not the Iraqi Government.
SG: I have no plans to go to Iraq at the moment. The Secretary-General of the Arab League, who has just come from Iraq, will be seeing me later in the week, early next week.
Q: Mr. Annan, your main purpose for your visit to Qatar what are you going to say?
SG: I am going to exchange some ideas with the Emir and to discuss developments in the region and also the Afghanistan situation. Thank you.
Teheran Airport, Islamic Republic of Iran, 27 January 2002 - press encounter with members of the Young Journalists Club (unofficial transcript)
Q: What is your opinion about the implementation of human rights in Iran?
SG: I think human rights is important to all nations and I have been following developments here very closely. I have been quite impressed with the way elections have been organized, and how the population have had the chance to express themselves and to indicate their choices. And what has been remarkable is the percentage of people who participated in these elections, particularly young people and women. And I think that is an important first step. And I have also noted increasing willingness of people to express themselves, as greater freedom of expression, which is very important and I think we should encourage, and vibrant civil society is developing, which is all very, very positive.
Q: What has been the result of your meetings with the senior government officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran?
SG: We had very good discussions and they have indicated full support for the UN's activities in Afghanistan and support for the new Interim Administration. And they would want to support a stable government in Afghanistan. Iran is going to play an important role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. As you know, they made a major contribution at the pledging conference in Tokyo, $560 million and that was an important and welcome contribution.
Q: Thank you very much.
Teheran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 26 January 2002 - press conference with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi (unofficial transcript)
FM: [Unofficial Translation from Farsi] We have had excellent talks with His Excellency, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The talks were for the most part focused on problems in Afghanistan. Considering the complicated nature of Afghanistan's problems, the visit by the Secretary-General to Iran is an opportune moment for us to discuss Afghanistan's problems closely and help the process which has begun and today the interim government is established in Kabul. So far the Islamic Republic of Iran has done its best to support the initiatives of the Secretary-General and his envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. In the Bonn Conference, Iran's contributions played a significant role in bringing about the success of the conference. At the Tokyo Conference, on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Iran tried to play an appropriate role to participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. From now on too, Iran will work towards strengthening and buttressing the interim Afghan government and bringing about security and stability throughout Afghanistan.
We have discussed different dimensions [such as] security, establishing the government all over Afghanistan, the formation of a national army and a national police force in Afghanistan. We explored different problems related to Afghanistan. We hope that due to the cooperation that exists between the United Nations on the one hand and the central government of Afghanistan on the other we will see more solidarity between the government and the nation of Afghanistan, and that the reconstruction of Afghanistan would begin as soon as possible, and that stability, tranquility and security would return to Afghanistan.
SG: Thank you very much, Minister. As you heard from the Minister, we have had a very good discussion this morning and he has taken you through the range of issues we discussed. In addition to that, I have had a very good meeting with President Khatami, where we discussed the situation in the Middle East, the dialogue among civilizations and the President commented on the irony that last year, which was the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations, was also one of the most brutal years. But of course that dialogue will continue. It did not end when the Year for Dialogue ended. If anything, we need more dialogue among civilizations and cultures to be able to deal with the messy world that we live in.
I have also been able to thank the President and the Government and the people of Iran for the great support they have given to the people of Afghanistan, the generous contribution that was made in Tokyo during the pledging conference and of course the support that has been given to me and my Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi throughout this process. We have had a good beginning but we have many hurdles ahead and we will continue to count on the support of the neighbors of Afghanistan and the international community as we move forward. We will take your questions now.
Central News Bureau (CNB): My first question is about the possible U.S. attacks against Iraq, Somalia and other countries. Would the United Nations agree with such attacks within the framework of the fight against terrorism? The other question is about the Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees in Guantanamo. Do agree with the whole situation?
SG: I think on the fight against terrorism, the UN has been very active. And I think the Security Council resolutions, particularly its 1373, which demands that countries do not give the support, or finance or give logistical support to terrorists, I think this is a very good basis of global fight against terrorism. In addition, we have about 12 conventions which have been approved under the auspices of the General Assembly, which also provides all of us a common legal framework to fight this scourge. Obviously, the Council also indicated that those who were responsible for the attacks of 11 September should be brought to justice and that explains to some extent what is happening in Afghanistan, because the actions by the countries involved has been set in that context. I believe that the fight against terrorism can only be won through international cooperation and all governments should take measures to contain and to fight terrorism.
With regard to those who are detained in Guantanamo Bay, I have made clear in my own public statement to the Security Council that while we need to take effective action against terrorism, there can be no trade off between effective action against terrorism and protection of human rights. I think all those detained must be treated in accordance with internationally accepted norms of law. And I hope that, I trust that is what will happen. Of course, the case is in court in the United States and I would prefer not to go beyond the fact they shall be treated humanely and in accordance with accepted norms of international law.
CNN: Thank you, Mr. Minister. I think that Iran has stated this opinion before. But two days ago the FBI Director said in neighboring Afghanistan "we are worried about Al-Qaeda operatives sneaking out of Afghanistan through Iran". Is this possibly true in any way and has the Iranian government in any way taken any new steps to ensure that this is not occurring?
FM: This of course has repeatedly been said that we have closed our borders, [not] allowing any movement by Al-Qaeda people or the Taliban people toward Iranian territory. We are very serious about that and we will not allow anyone to misuse Iranian territory for those purposes. If it happened that someone from Al-Qaeda or the Taliban would enter the territory, he would certainly be arrested.
Iran News Network: [translation] I want to pose my question to His Excellency Mr. Secretary-General. Considering that the talks in Teheran mainly revolve around Afghanistan, what sort of status does the UN think that Iran must have? If you will allow me, I will also like to ask what sort of role does the UN play in the selection of the Loya Jirga to ensure the security and stability of Afghanistan in the future?
SG: You started by saying you wanted to ask me one question. You asked 3 questions (laughs). On the first one, I think Iran has an important role to play in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. And it has demonstrated that through the generous contribution that it made. Obviously we are going to require expertise and technicians, and Iran, which has had traditional commercial relations with Afghanistan, would want to see good road links and reconstruction of the roads would be essential. The government has also indicated that they will reduce port duties and other charges by 50% to facilitate the reconstruction in Afghanistan. These are very important contributions.
With regards to the refugees, first of all, let me thank Iran for the generosity it has shown to the Afghan refugees over the past two decades and more. And now that peace is returning to Afghanistan we have established a plan. The High Commissioner of Refugees has a plan for managed and organized repatriation of all the refugees to go back home. Obviously, the repatriation and the return has to be voluntary. But we intend to get them back home over a period of two-and-a-half to three years. So we have a plan to manage the return of the refugees.
On the question of the Loya Jirga, the Afghan factions and the Interim Administration requested that the UN takes the lead in consulting all the Afghans, and setting up of the 21-person commission which will prepare the Loya Jirga and that is what was done. Mr. Brahimi consulted widely and he established a list of 300 names and out of that 21 names were culled and the group was established. In establishing the group, he was looking for people who had integrity, who were independent, who could act impartially in the interest of all Afghans and charge them collectively and individually to work for effective and efficient organization of the Loya Jirga on June 22 this year.
NHK TV: I would like to follow up on a previous question. Mr. Kharrazi, how do you respond to the US allegations? Another allegation [is that] Iran has been meddling in the internal affairs, sending weapons to one of the armed forces, in Afghanistan. I remember, the Defense Minister Mr. Shamkhani once admitted that Iran has been, and also will be, providing weapons to the Northern Alliance. Have you finished, have you stopped, sending weapons to Afghanistan? And if Mr. Annan has some information to support U.S. allegation on this matter?
FM: Yes, certainly the sending of arms to Afghanistan has been stopped. During the period of resistance of Northern Alliance against the Taliban, they received assistance from us. But now that the Interim Authority is in place in Kabul, certainly it is the duty of everyone to support the Interim Authority. Therefore, this report is totally baseless. One should consider that there are disputes between some of the governors in Afghanistan, and we should not be trapped by these sorts of differences or disputes that exist between these governors. We have traditional contacts and trade with the provinces which are close to our border in the north and in the south, and that is in coordination with the central authority in Kabul.
SG: I have no independent information regarding the allegations you refer to. What I should say is that in my discussions with the Government, they have confirmed just what you heard from the Minister. That they will work with the central government and are working with the central government, and are determined to do everything to strengthen and support the central government. I got the same assurance also from Pakistan. Of course the role and support of the neighboring countries are absolutely essential for the success of the Interim Administration and new government that will be installed in Afghanistan.
AP: My question is addressed to Minister Kharrazi. Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi was quoted as saying yesterday that Iran was prepared to send troops to Afghanistan. I just want to know if Iran has officially demanded to send troops to Afghanistan as part of the multi-national forces and I would request the Secretary-General what the UN position would be on that.
FM: No, we do not have such an intention to send troops to Afghanistan. This morning I asked my colleagues to contact Mr. Abtahi to see what the basis of that report was. I think that there has been some misunderstanding, because it is not the policy of Iran to send troops at this stage to Afghanistan.
SG: The force in Afghanistan is a multinational force. Obviously it was mandated by the Security Council, in that it has Security Council approval before its deployment. But this is a coalition of the willing, a group of countries that came together to assist the Afghan government on security issues, with the United Kingdom in the lead. Normally the countries that wish to participate, often get in touch with the lead nation and discuss it. Until this morning I have had no information Iran had indicated that it wanted to send troops to join the force.
Iran News daily (Translation) My question is addressed to Mr. Annan. The situation in Palestine has become more critical, and it seems that the United Nations does not take serious initiatives in this area either and it is the United States that is making decisions on Palestine. I would like to ask your opinion about this issue and what sort of explanation you have in this connection.
SG: I take it that your question relates to Middle East, not Afghanistan. I think the situation in the Middle East is rather tragic and very, very serious. And I, like leaders around the world, we are all extremely concerned about developments there. And I think what needs to be done is for collective international action to try and break the impasse and bring the parties back to the table. For the moment it looks hopeless, but I don't think we should give up hope, given the fact that people are dying every day and we need to really find a way of ending this tragedy which has gone on for far too long and we are going to continue our efforts.
BBC: Mr. Annan, Iran is being accused by the Americans of meddling in Afghanistan, of trying to disrupt the Middle East peace process by sending arms to the Palestinian Authority. There is a strong perception here in Tehran that there is a preparation being made for an eventual American strike or pressure or action of some sort against Iran. What would be your comment or position on that?
SG: I have discussed this issue very frankly with the Iranian authorities that I met today. And I think the first one, you have already heard from Minister Kharazzi who has indicated that first of all, they have no love for Al-Qaeda or the Taliban and they do not have ideological, religious or political support for either group. And obviously they indicated they find it very odd that given their traditional position that they would be suddenly opening their doors to them and assured me that even though they have long borders they are determined to keep them out. And if anyone of them have slipped in without knowledge of the Government, they will be hunted down and dealt with.
On the question of the ship, again the Government has made it quite clear to me that they had nothing to do with it.
The third part of your question as to whether there is going to be a US strike or not. I consider it to be highly speculative and I prefer not to be drawn on that. Thank you.
Iranian Radio: Greetings to Dr. Kharrazi and Mr. Kofi Annan. Mr. Kofi Annan, what do you think about the targeted assassination of the Palestinian people by the forces of the Zionist Regime or by the helicopters of this regime? What do you think about the lynching of the corpses of the Palestinians? Are these measures defined as terrorist actions or not? Could you please say why the United Nations has shown little dynamism in the Palestinian events?
My next question is as follows: Considering that the interim government has come to power, and the forces in Afghanistan are organized under United Nations, what do you think about the unilateral decision of the United States to continue bombardment of certain areas in Afghanistan and the detention of the individuals as Washington pleases?
SG: I think on what you've referred to, the targeted assassinations, my position on that is very clear. I am on record as stating that it goes against established principles of law and that people who are accused of these things should be given a chance, their day in court. They should be brought to justice but it should be done in accordance with established norms of law.
On your second question, of course the international force is in Afghanistan and the operations are limited to Kabul and the surrounding area. They are not active in the rest of the country. You also referred to the US forces that are undertaking military action in Afghanistan, particularly in the southern part of the country. This, as I mentioned earlier, is seen as part of a Council action that indicated that those responsible for the attacks should be brought to justice. I have no direct involvement with the military operations. I don't know when it is going to end and how long it will take. But it seems as if it is tapering off that is all I can say for the moment.
LBC TV: (Translation) I have a question for His Excellency Mr. Kharrazi and His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan. One of the main problems between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States is the lack of a clear definition of terrorism. For the most part in the Middle East, we regard Hizbullah, Hamas or Islamic Jihad as resistance groups. The Americans say that these groups are terrorists. Can we have a clear definition of terrorism? What is the United Nations' role in this connection. Thank you very much.
FM: (Translation) I think the definition of terrorism should be an international endeavor under the supervision of the United Nations. Each country by itself cannot have its own of special definition of terrorism. Undoubtedly, from our standpoint and the standpoint of other Muslim countries, as has been stressed by the OIC, we have to make a distinction between terrorism and the struggle for liberation. On the other hand, too, we must not use double-standards in defining instances of terrorism. At any rate, as Mr. Khatami, too, has suggested, we hope that a summit of [world] leaders will be held to define terrorism and the way to confront terrorism within the framework of an all-out effort and international cooperation.
SG: I agree with what the Minister has said, but there is one thing I would like to add. I think regardless of the differences between governments on the question of definition of terrorism, what is clear and what we can all agree on is any deliberate attack on innocent civilians, regardless of one's cause, is unacceptable and fits into the definition of terrorism. And I think this we can all be clear on. Thank you.
Al-Manar TV (Translation) My question is addressed to Mr. Kofi Annan. Currently we are witnessing the attacks by Israeli jetfighters against the Palestinian people. So far we have not seen any specific adoption of position by the United Nations, especially since we have heard that the U.S. State Department and Israel plan to destroy the Palestinian Self-Rule Authority. Why hasn't the UN adopted a position against the Israeli crimes?
SG: I think I have been on record each time there has been an attack of that kind, on either side, which has led to killing. I have not condoned any of these attacks as Secretary-General. With regard to the comment you made, as the second part [of your question], that the U.S. and Israel have decided to continue this fight or attacks again, I am not sure the U.S. has decided to attack or join in an attack. What I heard was the U.S. asking Chairman Arafat to do more to stop terrorism. Thank you.
Teheran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 25 January 2002 - press encounter upon arrival (unofficial transcript)
Q: Your Excellency, thank you very much [inaudible]. First of all may I ask what is the main purpose of your visit to Teheran?
SG: As you know, I have just come straight here from Tokyo, Pakistan and Afghanistan and obviously I will discuss developments in the region and particularly Afghanistan and the work the UN is doing there. Iran has been an important player and we have a lot to discuss. Over and above that, the UN has had a broad agenda with Iran. Iran has been very generous at Tokyo, where you made a very generous contribution of 560 million dollars. We have been cooperating with Iran on refugee issues and you have been very generous. The Iranian government has been very generous to Afghan refugees over the years. We have had great cooperation on the fight against drugs, and so we have a lot to talk about. And I'm here also to exchange ideas with the Iranian leadership on developments in the region.
Q: But sir, as you said, you pointed to Iran's important role in the past. What role do you see for Iran in the future of Afghanistan and its reconstruction?
SG: I think what is important is that all the neighbors of Afghanistan and the international community support the interim Afghan government, and the Afghan government once it is fully established. I think we all have to, we share a common objective and that objective is to see a stable, peaceful Afghanistan. Afghanistan that has normal and good relations with its neighbors. Afghanistan that is determined to protect its people and ensure that they can live their lives in peace. And that is in the interest of everyone. And that we will all work for that objective. And I think in that spirit, Iran has a role to play and also in the reconstruction. As I indicated earlier not only has Iran made a major contribution, but I think it can also play a role in reconstruction.
Q: As you know, about an hour ago, the Iraqi Foreign Minister [Dr. Naji Sabri] arrived in Teheran. Have you scheduled to visit him and are you going to speak about the possible US attacks on Iraq in your meeting?
SG: I didn't know the Iraqi minister was here. But I just heard it when I landed. We have no plans to meet and so I wish him a good stay in Teheran.
Kabul, Afghanistan, 25 January 2002 - joint press conference with Chairman of the Interim Authority, Hamid Karzai (unofficial transcript)
Chairman Karzai: Ladies and Gentleman, first of all I am glad to be back in Kabul. I had a nice trip. It went very well. And I am glad we had some sunshine today to have all the good planes land visitors here. That's of His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations and His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. And my own little plane. I am very glad as well to see today a distinguished personality of the world, somebody who can be called the President of the World. When we were kids …
SG: …..He's going to get me in trouble… [laughter]
Chairman Karzai: We thought the SG was the President of the World, as much as he might not like it, but that is a position that has the respect of the world community, of the Member States, and it sees Mr. Kofi Annan as a gentleman, as a person, as a distinguished diplomat, as a distinguished man, human being, we respect him and we are glad and honoured that he took the time to be here with us today and to bless us with his visit here. We're glad for that.
We also have another remarkable visit - that of the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, [Mr. John Manley]. We were informed in Japan of His Excellency's visit. We said Wow! How good for Afghanistan, two very significant trips in one day for Afghanistan. We have not seen that for years. We hope this trend will continue for the years to come. And We hope that Afghanistan will have such good days more and more and we hope that world attention will be on Afghanistan so that the country gets reconstructed, furthers stability so that Afghans can start to live very normal lives, so that our country stands back on its own feet and I'm sure both these distinguished gentlemen here will help us do that.
May I now give the floor to His Excellency Kofi Annan. Thank you very much.
SG: Thank you very much Chairman Karzai. I am very happy to be here in Afghanistan on my first visit ever. And I think it is significant that I am able to come here today and not only to call on the Chairman and the Interim Authority but also to hear from my own people, to meet Mr. Brahimi, the outgoing Deputy, [Francesc] Vendrell and the UN team here. I have also had the opportunity of talking to civil society, visiting a girls' school and having serious discussions with the Interim Administration. I have been very encouraged by what I saw. Particularly in the school with the young girls - to see their enthusiasm, their happiness, and the sheer joy of being in school and learning and taking their work very seriously. I would hope that following what happened in Tokyo and the support the international community demonstrated, which I hope will be sustained over the long haul, that the Afghan people will support the Interim Administration to work with the international community in partnership to rebuild Afghanistan. We have made a good start but there is a lot to be done and I can assure you that we at the UN and the team that is here is determined to work hand in hand with you to try and implement the programmes that we have elaborated together. And I think I should also want to say that now we are moving into the reconstruction stage I have decided to appoint Nigel Fisher as a Deputy to Mr. Brahimi on the humanitarian and reconstruction affairs. Some of you may know Nigel who has been the UNICEF Regional Director in the region and he will be assuming his tasks very, very shortly, and I think I will pause here and take your questions later.
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada: Canada has been very closely associated with the campaign that has occurred that led to the change in the regime. We continue to be very supportive of the Interim Administration. This afternoon, as I visited NGO projects, I was delighted to see projects that Canada has continued to fund over the last 6-7 years and which we will be in a position to enhance as we go forward based on the additional commitments that were made by us, among others, in Tokyo. So, Mr. Chairman Karzai, we offer you our continuing support for the enormous task you have before you. You can count on Canada to be with you every step of the way, to provide the assistance that is within our means to do. Thank you very much.
Chairman Karzai: Ladies and Gentlemen, very briefly, I thought my first plan was to speak to the Afghan radio and television today or tomorrow morning to tell them what I brought from my trip to Saudi Arabia and Tokyo and Beijing and Dushanbe, but you've all captured us here, so let me say that the Afghan delegation came back very happy from all these visits. We had help in all these countries that we visited. From Tokyo, in particular, we came very happy. The meeting for the support of the Afghan reconstruction organized there by the United Nations with the hospitality and the tremendous work done by the government of Japan was very, very nice for us. We came away somehow with full hands of pledges from there. We hope those pledges will be made true very, very soon, so that we can begin our reconstruction. On that I will talk to you later again some time. But right now I have another matter that I am reading to you, in which I have not control at all, so don't be mislead. Just listen to me and don't think it is us making these decisions.
Just in accordance with the Bonn Agreement, it was decided to have a Commission for Loya Jirga, so that you'd have at the completion of six months of the interim government a Loya Jirga held in Afghanistan to determine the future political set up of Afghanistan, to have a transitional government and a transitional head of state and all that. It was decided that this Commission would be closely linked to the United Nations in work there. When we came to Kabul, we thought that that was the best way in order to make sure that the Commission is trusted by all and functions impartially without any influence, including the influence of the Interim Administration - whether it has any or not. But still we must make sure there is none of that at all. We decided that this Commission in accordance with the Bonn Agreement be determined and handled under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Special Representatives Office for Afghanistan, Mr. Brahimi's office, and we provided a list of people and they were kind to present us with the list which I am simply announcing and let them take all the trouble for it.
I am pleased to announce the Members of the Special Independent Commission for the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga. The names are, Ladies and Gentleman, in the following manner. The first name is that of the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ismael Qasimyar, a very known Afghan jurist, an expert in law, a man who knows Afghan Constitution very, very well and he is, I believe, in Kabul. I know this gentleman personally. Then we have Mrs. Mahbooba Hoquqmal, who is the Vice-Chair or Vice-Chairwoman, and then we have Al-Haj Abdul Aziz, as the other Vice-Chair. We have Abdul Salam Rahimy, Ameer Mohammed Essa, Assadullah Wolwaliji, Enayatullah Kamal, Haji Zaher Khan Jabbarkhel, Humaira Nematy, Mohammed Farid Hamidi, Mohammed Kazim Ahang, Mohammed Mahfoooz Nidai, Mohammed Taher Borgai, Nur Mohammed Karkin (I know this man too), Rashid Seljuki (I know him too), Sadik Mudaber, Sayed Amin Mujahed, Sayed Massoud, Sayed Musa Tawana (I know this man too), Sebghatullah Sanjar, Soraya Parlika. All others I don't know. This shows it is a really nice Commission - a real impartial Commission and I hope that they, together with the United Nations, will be successful in their work and give Afghanistan a good representative and fair Loya Jirga. Thank you very much for your attention.
SG: I just wanted to add, that it was not easy to put the list together. Lakhdar Brahimi went through 300 names to select the 21. We set out to get a group that would be independent, a group of men and women that would have integrity, are highly respected within the society and request them to help organize the Loya Jirga. We are not going to run it, they are going to help organize it and they need your help. You all have to work with them. Afghan men and women will have to work with these 21 men and women who are going to organize the Loya Jirga. We have asked them, as individuals, and as a collective group, to work in the interest of Afghanistan and the people and not be pulled in any direction by one group or the other. And we expect them to operate that way. They need your help. They need your understanding. I know that not everyone will be entirely happy with the list. But it is a good list and let's support them and work with them. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the Afghan Delegation came with 4.5 billion US dollars from the Tokyo summit which does not match with the rhetoric of the international community and the Bonn Agreement. Don't you think this is going to put more burden on your mission here in Afghanistan?
For Mr. Chairman, now you have announced the names of the 21 Members of the Commission for the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga. How do you see the prospect of this commission since for a lot of the Afghan people, the Loya Jirga is but a romantic reminder of the past and cannot be a practical idea for the political future of Afghanistan. Thank you very much indeed.
SG: I think the international community demonstrated in Tokyo that they do support the reconstruction here and they all promised to remain engaged. What we need to do is to begin the reconstruction projects and the monies will be dispensed and disbursed as quickly as possible. I know that there is concern that there will be fatigue once the cameras are gone and the donors will forget their commitments. I hope this will not happen. I will be reminding them, we will all be reminding them, and you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, also have a role to play by putting the Afghan issue on the fronts of your newspapers and reporting it on your television. But that is one of the reasons why I mention the fact that we have appointed Fisher as Deputy to Mr. Brahimi to focus on humanitarian and reconstruction and we intend to move ahead very, very quickly, as fast and as fast as the funds are released. And I think in Bonn, from the discussions we had with the Governments, I think some of them at least are going to be moving fairly quickly.
Chairman Karzai: As regards the Loya Jirga, it is not a romantic thing. As you saw it had the attention of the Afghan people which is why it is there as the most important item in the tasks of the Interim Administration and in the tasks of the United Nations. It is a political institution that the Afghans have had for centuries. And it is a political institution that did delivery Afghanistan out of difficulties many, many times. It is a powerful institution that Afghans I am sure will listen to and abide by the decisions of and we all should do that.
Q: My question is to both of you. As Chairman Karzai returned to Afghanistan there were reports of fighting between forces loyal to Dostum and Fahim, and reports of fighting between the Governor of Kandahar and Ismael Khan's forces. So with that kind of threat of different parties still not being cohesive, would you be asking for more peacekeepers to be coming to Afghanistan?
Chairman Karzai: The reports of fighting that was reported a few days ago in the press while we were in Tokyo, that was a very minor incident - somebody had done something was simply arrested, and that man is still under arrest. It wasn't a fighting period. Now you don't call every incident of fighting, please. The press should make a difference between fighting and incidents, skirmishes. Afghanistan will have skirmishes for a long time to come. It is like a sick man getting out of the operation room. We are still in the ICU. Allow us to go to the recovery room and then walk like normal health people. So we will have these incidents taking place in Afghanistan in the coming days. That does not have any political significance at all. There was never any incident between the governor of Kandahar and the governor of Herat. Somebody made a statement. Now, it is a free country. We have announced freedom of speech. People can make statements. Don't take this as armies moving around. It was just somebody's statement. No incident at all.
SG: If I may add, I went to ISAF Headquarters and I was very impressed with the work they are doing. They are at half strength but by middle to end of next month they will be fully deployed and you will see greater presence on the streets, working closely with the Afghan security and also patrolling on their own. And I think as they deploy fully, and begin to work around the city, you're going to see and feel their presence. The Bonn Agreement required them to remain in Kabul and the surrounding areas and that is the mandate given to them by the Security Council and that is what they are working under.
Q: [Inaudible]… Is it not necessary to give the people throughout Afghanistan the feeling that they are being supported by the international community and their efforts to maintain the peace throughout the whole country and not just in Kabul?
SG: Security obviously is an important issue and we have had the chance to discuss it here. We also discussed it in Tokyo, including the urgent formation of an Afghan police force and an Afghan army and measures that should be taken to ensure that a secure environment is created not just in Kabul but throughout the country. Obviously that will require resources, organization, and is going to take some time but it is very much on top of our agenda and I know it is also on top of the agenda of the Chairman.
Chairman Karzai: It is. It is also on the agenda because a lot of Afghans who came to see us in the past month asked us for the presence of the international security force in other provinces of Afghanistan and our feeling is that if there is a need for that, they are welcome and we will have them in those provinces. Yes, the presence of the security force does in a way give the Afghans a sense of guarantee of the international community's commitment to stay and help Afghanistan.
Q: [from translation]: After the changes in Afghanistan, how do you evaluate the status of Afghanistan in the region and the international community and do you think this will decrease the interventions from the outside countries or not.
SG: I think it is important that the outside countries, the neighbouring countries and countries beyond your borders, work with us, the international community, on the same objectives. And I believe that most of them are beginning to accept that a stable, peaceful Afghanistan that is focusing on the interests of its people and its own development and has normal relations with its neighbours, is in their interest. And we have been stressing with the governments that they should not interfere in Afghanistan. They should not repeat the errors of the past and that we should all work in the same direction and I hope that is what will happen. Most of them have given us the assurance that they are going to work with us to ensure a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and that is what we need.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, have you discussed with Chairman Karzai the continuous presence of the American-led coalition, especially in the south, and when do you think it will come to an end.
SG: We did not really get into that in detail. We discussed the security presence of the international force, which is UN mandated. We touched on the situation in the country and pockets of perhaps dangerous elements. We did not discuss the US presence in detail. Moderator: Last question?
Q: Who is in charge of the peace mission - America or the United Nations?
Chairman Karzai: Which peace mission?
SG: ISAF has a mandate from the Security Council but it is a multinational force and the United Kingdom is a lead nation. And a group of nations came together under the leadership of the United Kingdom to provide assistance to Afghanistan.
Islamabad, Pakistan, 24 January 2002 - joint press conference with Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar (unofficial transcript)
FM: It is a pleasure once again to extend a warm welcome to His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan. We fondly recall his visit to Pakistan last year, and President Pervez Musharraf and I have had also other opportunities to meet with him, discuss our concerns on the situation and benefit from his insights.
Pakistan is a consistent and strong supporter of the United Nations and we have great respect for the Secretary-General. He personifies humanity's hopes for a world free of the scourge of war, a world in which the United Nations will bring about settlement of disputes by peaceful means in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, and promote economic and social progress.
The Secretary-General's present visit is taking place in a transformed regional environment. Happily, the sun is beginning to shine to our West. Unhappily, the eastern horizon is dark with clouds that threaten peace.
We discussed both the subjects during the meeting this afternoon. I have assured the Secretary-General that Pakistan's policy is cast in the mould of the UN Charter and principles of international law. As always, and as required of the members of the United Nations, Pakistan carries out the decisions of the Security Council.
Security Council Resolution 1378 of 14 November 2001 encapsulates the hopes of the world community for the peace and unity of Afghanistan, and for an end to the travail of its people. I take this opportunity to felicitate the Secretary-General and his Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi for their great contribution to the success of the Bonn Conference.
As a neighbour and well wisher of Afghanistan and its people, Pakistan has extended full cooperation to Chairman Hamid Karzai's Administration. We are confident that the Administration can and will achieve its objectives in the service of the Afghan people.
Peace, unity and reconstruction of Afghanistan will be a blessing for its people. Equally it will be a blessing for Pakistan and other countries of the region. We have decided to extend cooperation within the limits of our means for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Turning to the other side, I have appraised the Secretary-General of Pakistan's earnest efforts for preservation of peace, de-escalation of tension and resumption of dialogue with India.
While we have noted the prevalent perception of diplomatic and political amelioration in the state of tension, there is little change so far in the concentration of forces on the border and the line of control. Inherent in this situation are dangers that need to be defused by the return of forces to their peacetime locations. Pakistan will promptly respond to any such move by India.
The Secretary-General underlined in his comments on arrival last night the need for dialogue between Pakistan and India. We on our part remain ready to enter bilateral negotiations as well as utilize any of the other peaceful means for impartial settlement of disputes.
SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. Minister, let me thank you for your very warm welcome. I am pleased to be back in Islamabad for the second time in less than a year. I've had very good meetings with the Minister, as you've heard, and I'm looking forward to having a meeting with the President later on today.
I have come at a turbulent time, and a lot has happened since I was last here. And it is being said that the events of the last several months have acted as a catalyst in Pakistan's search for democracy and stability. And the international community is now fully aware of the global implications of what happens in this region.
President Musharraf, in my opinion, deserves high praise for the courageous speech he delivered 12 days ago, in particular the emphasis he placed on tolerance, the rule of law and the need to fight terrorism and extremism, and also for the anti-terrorist measures he announced. These are steps in the right direction; it is important now to build on them.
Here I would like to stress the need to resolve Pakistan's differences with India, including over Kashmir, through peaceful means. Pakistan and India have much in common, much to lose from tension and confrontation, and much to gain through cooperation. The immediate need is for military de-escalation. But de-escalation and an end to the immediate crisis is not enough. The world does not want another crisis in a few weeks' or a few months' time. What is needed are two things: sustained and determined action against extremist armed groups, of the kind announced by President Musharraf; and an equally sustained and determined dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve their differences by peaceful means. There is enormous support and encouragement in the international community for this twin-track approach. My own good offices remain available, should both parties wish to avail themselves of them.
Of course, Afghanistan has featured prominently in my discussions with the Minister, and I am going on from here to Kabul and to Tehran. I was encouraged by the support shown by the international community in Tokyo. The attendance at the Conference was quite extraordinary and the donations were very good, and therefore I consider the meeting extremely successful. Pakistan, as you've heard, made a generous contribution of $100 million for reconstruction. Lakhdar Brahimi, who is here with me, and his team, have done a good job in Afghanistan. We've made a good start but there are many hurdles ahead of us, and I hope we can count on sustained international support, sustained not only in terms of financial and material terms but also political and moral support as we move forward with our attempts to reconstruct Afghanistan.
I think it is important, as we move forward, that Pakistan and the other neighbours of Afghanistan, as well as countries in the region, work closely with the Interim Authority and with each other to give Afghanistan a chance for a peaceful and stable future. A stable Afghanistan, as the Minister has indicated, is in the interest of all its neighbours, and constructive cross-border relations would give a real boost to stability throughout the region.
I think I will end here, and take some questions.
Foreign Ministry Moderator: I invite now Mr. Azim Mian, President, United Nations Correspondent Association, to ask the first question.
Q: [The journalist welcomes the Secretary-General and asks about support to Pakistan in exchange for his support in the war against terrorism and about the need for "UN observers"]
SG: I think on your first question, which is the one I'm going to answer, I believe in my opening remarks, I dealt quite a lot with that. I think the Security Council Resolution 1373, requires all Member States to take action against terrorism. And I think the only way we are going to defeat terrorism is through international cooperation, and Pakistan is doing its part and I hope all other countries would also play their part.
As far as your relations with other governments are concerned in economic and trading arrangements, I know that there are lots of discussions going on between Pakistan and other governments regarding economic and trading arrangements, and I trust these would be beneficial and successful to the countries involved and to Pakistan, and I would urge Pakistan to continue and pursue these discussions.
Q: In his speech at the Human Development Conference today, President Musharraf talked about democracy and he said the real point is not whether the government is elected but how it functions and that Pakistan will fine-tune democracy to its own requirements. How do you interpret these comments?
FM: The Supreme Court of Pakistan gave President Musharraf's Government a period of three years for rectification of the problems that arose because of economic mismanagement, poor governance, corruption in the country, and so on. Some months ago, I was [inaudible] the President announced a road map for democracy. Elections will be held before the 12th of October 2002. The Election Commission is proceeding with the necessary arrangements. The number of seats in the National Assembly has been substantially increased from 220-some to 350. You would be particularly happy to note that 66 have been reserved for women in the Parliament. So we are on course. At the same time it is very important that Pakistan should not return to that kind of democracy we had before October 12th, 1999. That period witnessed the dismissal of four governments on charges of mismanagement, etc. Pakistan got buried under debt mounting to 39,000,000 dollars; through a great deal of sacrifices by the people of Pakistan, in the form of evolution of subsidy, etc.
The country is nursing the economy back to health and Incha'Allah, President Musharraf's present government will lead the country to better economic health, better governance, and so on. And we devoutly hope and pray that the leaders who come forward in the elections in October next, will bring a resolve addressing the agenda of the mission.
Mr. Secretary-General, I am sorry to have taken so much time but I think it is important for our friends, including yourself, to know that President Musharraf remains committed and resolved to bring genuine democracy to Pakistan.
Q: [The same journalist asked the Secretary-General if he would reply to the same question].
SG: I think the Minister has answered your question.
Q: [Journalist questions Secretary-General regarding treatment of those arrested in connection with the conflict in Afghanistan as contrasted with the treatment accorded the US citizen arrested there].
SG: On the question of those arrested in connection with the conflict in Afghanistan, I believe that first of all they should be treated humanely and that they should be treated in accordance with accepted international norms, and that their rights should be respected.
The US government has decided that Walker, being an American citizen, will be tried in a court in Virginia. There is quite a bit of controversy over those in Guantanamo Bay and that also is today in the court. I think there's a case in California, and we will all wait to see what the Judges decide. But in the meantime, I believe that whatever happens, the international norms must be respected. The US itself is a nation of laws, and I'm sure would want to do that.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, last evening, you have been reported saying that you are in touch with Pakistan and Kabul. Do you have any timeframe in your mind that you will be able to bring both parties across the table, and do you think that without driving the troops from the international border, there is any possibility of fruitful dialogue between the two countries ? And the last part of my question is, how do you view the Pakistan's offer that the UN observers across the [inaudible] may be shifted into the peace-keeping forces on the Line of Control?
SG: Let me remind everyone that the moderator suggested one question each. On the issue of the troops on the border, I think in my opening remarks, I said the most immediate concern is to reduce tensions, which implies also withdrawal of the troops, and de-escalate. And then, of course, I talked about the longer term, which will mean getting the parties together, negotiations, and not just being satisfied with de-escalating, but making a genuine search for a final settlement, which is in the interest of both countries and in the region. This is a region with great potential. If India and Pakistan were to resolve their differences, this sub-region can see growth and stability that we haven't even began to imagine.
Q: UN observers?
SG: I don't think there is any…if you are going to have UN observers transformed into a peace-keeping force or enforcement group, you would need another resolution by the Security Council and I don't see it happening now.
Q: [A journalist asked the Secretary-General to comment on the fact that some countries respect UN resolutions, while others do not.]
SG: I'm not sure it is quite fair to put it in those terms. Yes, there are Security Council Resolutions and I think we discussed this issue when I was last here. But these resolutions cannot be self-fulfilling or self-implementing. In fact, you need to get the parties to cooperate. And there have been many other instances where Security Council Resolutions have served as a basis, but at the end of the day the parties have to talk and really resolve their differences. The Security Council Resolutions is always a help, is always a basis; in some cases both parties have accepted it and we have been able to put it in practice. So, there is still that need for the two parties to get together as I indicated. Many friends are supporting this.
Q: How would you view the validity of the Resolution regarding Kashmir?
SG: I don't know if I would use the word validity. I think the Resolutions are there. They offer a certain useful path in our search for peace, and I would hope that when the parties come to the table or as they discuss these issues, there will be elements in the resolution and they will find the resolution helpful as they try to resolve their differences.
FM: I wish to say that this is the first visit of the Secretary-General at the start of his second term. We want him to come back and we would like you to cooperate in giving him some time to catch up with the agenda of the day. Thank you very much.
SG: Thank you.
Islamabad, Pakistan, 24 January 2002 - comments at the Pakistan Human Development Forum (unofficial transcript)
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm here this morning basically to listen. This is my second visit to Pakistan in less than a year, and I do come at a turbulent period, but it is interesting for me to be here this morning and to hear the plans that you have for your nation and the people, as someone who has always believed that we should put human beings at the center of everything we do; that development is not a matter of statistics, but it deems from needs and concerns of human beings, men, women and children.
What I have heard this morning has been truly inspiring. In the year 2000, when we organized the Millennium Summit, one of the priorities the 150 Heads of States and governments agreed upon was poverty alleviation. Not only did they agree on millennium development goals, but we are also required to report back --monitor and report every year-- as to what progress that is being made at the country level; and hearing what I have heard today, I know Pakistan will have a lot to report if we carry through the plans that have been discussed here this morning.
But let me also say that, as we move forward, and I think Clare Short touched on this, this is something the government cannot do alone. It has to work in partnership with the private sector, NGOs, women's groups and community organizations. So I would urge everyone to get involved, to work with the government in partnership; we don't have to wait for the government to come to you. You can offer and do your own little bit in your own little corner, and if we all make our contributions collectively, we will move the nation forward.
And finally, let me say that, since 11th of September, we have all tended to focus quite a lot on terrorism. Yes, it is important to have effective action against terrorism but it is also important to pursue the other priorities: the fight against poverty, the need to ensure that that environment is protected and we do not plunder the resources of the world in a manner that is not sustainable, because there is an African proverb which says: "the earth is not ours. It is a treasure we hold in trust for our children and their children". And we need to do whatever we can, not only to fight poverty, but also to protect the environment and to remove the inequality that exists between States and within States. And this morning, I have received the message loud and clear that you are determined to do that. I am also encouraged by the emphasis on governance, which is one of the key areas for all effective development.
Let me conclude by wishing you very successful deliberations over the next three days, and I leave here with a sense that you are determined to move ahead with poverty eradication and that, when we return to the General Assembly to report what countries are doing, we will have an interesting story to tell from Pakistan. Thank you very much.
Islamabad, Pakistan, 23 January 2002 - press encounter upon arrival at Islamabad airport (unofficial transcript)
Q: (Inaudible) the internal borders on the India and Pakistan with an international peace body?
SG: Well, I personally have been in touch with both countries, also with others, talking to both sides about the need to de-escalate, and I have been very pleased with the statement made by President Musharraf eleven days ago, and I think these are very important statements, and I think this a step in the right direction, and we need to build up on that. And I hope that would also lead to defusing the tensions.
Q: Would you hold any talks about the situation with any of our leaders?
SG: I am not going to India this time. We couldn't coordinate our calendars, but I'll have a chance to discuss it here.
Q: On the Afghanistan situation, what role do you see? Do you think there is a possibility of setting up a commission of the neighboring countries for reconstruction work?
SG: Well, I hope that all the countries -- neighbors and those from other parts of the world-- will cooperate on the reconstruction of Afghanistan. I think we made a good start in Tokyo, where the conference was very well attended, and the pledges were very encouraging, and now we have to get down to business and begin the process of reconstruction. In some situations, we are going to work together. Other governments have indicated they will have bilateral efforts, but whether the efforts are bilateral or joint, I hope it will feed into an Afghan plan which the Afghan administration has endorsed, so that we all focus on a common effort. Thank you very much.
Bangkok, Thailand, 23 January 2002 - press conference with the Foreign Minister of Thailand (unofficial transcript)
(The Foreign Minister of Thailand, Min Surakiart made an opening statement, then turned the floor to the Secretary-General)
SG: Thank you very much, Minister. I am extremely happy to be back in Bangkok again, even though it's very brief. As you know, it's one of our main headquarters, and I'm happy to see Mr. Kim here also with us.
We've had the chance this afternoon to discuss our activities and operations in Afghanistan, and I'm happy that Mr. Brahimi is also here with me.
We discussed the kinds of cooperation and support that Thailand can give to our activities in Afghanistan. And of course there are many areas where we are going to need help.
The Minister has referred to engineering, agriculture, capacity-building and other activities that Mr. Brahimi and his team are engaged in. The Prime Minister himself, when we met him before, repeated the willingness of Thailand to work with us.
Thailand has also given us very effective support in East Timor, where your troops, your peacekeepers, have done a remarkable job. And you have also been able to help the people of East Timor strengthen their agriculture and other activities. And I hope we can count on you doing the same in Afghanistan.
As Mr. Brahimi indicated, he will take you up on this, and I hope in the not too distant future. A team will probably come and explore what could be done together.
But I was very pleased with the results of the pledging conference in Tokyo. It was very well attended and the results were good. But of course we are at the very early stages in the process, and it's going to be a long, drawn out process. And we are going to need the international community to stay engaged. And we would hope to see the pledges made transformed into cash as quickly as possible, particularly the resources that we need for this year.
I don't know if, Lakhdar, you want to say a word. Okay, good. We'll take your questions.
Q: Mr. Annan, are you worried that the incident in Calcutta yesterday could lead to an escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan?
SG: It is worrying, but I hope it doesn't escalate matters further. I think the two countries can only solve their problems through political and diplomatic means. And I believe that the measures that President Musharraf has announced and has taken is a step in the right direction and as he continues his efforts to take decisive action, we should see a decline in tensions in the region. And I hope this incident will not escalate it further.
Q: Given the fact that India and Pakistan, on refusing any mediation from the outside (inaudible), what can the UN bring to the situation?
SG: As Secretary-General, my good offices are always available. But for one to be able to play a mediating role, both parties will have to accept that role, which is definitely not the case at the moment. And so I think what we need to do is to encourage the two parties to resolve their differences through dialogue, including the question of Kashmir. And I hope that once the current tensions have been reduced, we will not stop there and consider that satisfactory but move on with the search for a longer term solution, even try to (inaudible).
Q: (The journalist said that there had been news today that Southeast Asia had become a centre for terrorist operations and asked what the Secretary-General thought of that.)
SG: I haven't seen the report, and I have no direct intelligence that would seem to confirm that. But of course as an organization, the UN is very much engaged in this fight against terrorism through the work of the (Security) Council and the work of the General Assembly. And as we speak, the Member States are discussing a comprehensive convention against terrorism, which I hope they would approve in the next month or so.
Q: (The journalist asked about the specifics of Thailand's contribution to the UN's efforts in Afghanistan.)
SG: I think discussions are going on and no dates have been set yet. But we are going to need lots of help and I'm sure we'll have enough time to work out the details with the Prime Minister and the government. But the offer of help is welcome and is encouraging and we will take them up on it.
Q: Is there a role for the United Nations in ensuring that the prisoners that were captured in Afghanistan receive humanitarian treatment at American facilities in Cuba?
SG: Our position is very clear, that the prisoners must be treated humanely and in accordance with internationally accepted norms. And we expect that to be done. I don't think I can say any more than that, but our position is very clear. Thank you.
Tokyo, Japan, 22 January 2002 - encounter with CNN at conclusion of International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan (unofficial transcript)
Q: [Richard Roth asked the Secretary-General for his reaction to the Afghanistan donors conference which opened in Tokyo yesterday.]
SG: I'm encouraged; it's gone very well. We got a decent level of contributions, but we need to analyze the results. There may be gaps in areas where we didn't do as well. And here, I am particularly thinking about recurrent costs for the government - how we pay salaries, we pay teachers, and sustain those payments over the year until they are off the ground and they are able to generate their own revenues to be able to cover the costs. But I am very encouraged, and I'm happy that so many people came - 60 countries and organizations - here to show solidarity and support for Afghan reconstruction.
And I think (Afghan Interim Administration Chairman Hamid) Karzai and his team must leave here determined to work with their own people to do their part because the international community has demonstrated from here that they are determined to follow through. What they do on the ground, how they organize themselves and structure their own leadership, is going to be extremely important for this partnership.
Q: Mr. Karzai said he was going to bring in outside international auditors, things like that. Are you worried that the funds will disappear once they enter Afghanistan?
SG: I think the comments from Karzai were very important, because he's, in effect, sending the message out that we want this money used wisely, effectively and efficiently and we do not intend to waste it. And we are prepared to bring in auditors and the staff required to ensure that we do it properly. And I think that was just the right approach and the right tone, and we will work with them on that basis.
Q: People see headlines - two billion dollars for Afghanistan, four billion - does this mean it's solved, Afghanistan?
SG: No, no, no, no. We are off to a good start but we have many hurdles ahead of us. We have questions of security to worry about. We have questions of getting the right type of people for the reconstruction, whether Afghan or from elsewhere. We have problems of the Afghans organizing themselves in such a way that the war lords do not get in the way. We need to bring down banditry. And so we have lots of hurdles ahead of us. We are by no means there. It's a long process but we've made a good start.
Q: So, but for better or for worse, this is in effect for the world nation building in Afghanistan.
SG: Oh, absolutely, whether we like the phrase or not.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
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