OFF THE CUFF
This document contains remarks made between May - August 2000
(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".)
Remarks upon entering UNHQ, 28 August 2000
Q: As the religious summit gets under way today many people are critical of the United Nations and the decision to exclude the Dalai Lama. Could you give us your feelings on that?
SG: Yes, I think this is an issue that we have said enough about. I have spoken about it -- Mr. Eckhard. This is a meeting organized by an NGO that is using our facilities, I have indicated that it would have been preferable if everybody were here, but I think that to have three representatives of the Dalai Lama participate along with another thousand religious leaders in this house to talk about peace, to talk about the role religion can play in our search for peace I think is progress and I hope that it will help peace processes around the world, through their prayer, through their work and what they do when they go back to their own communities.
Q: On Burundi, do you think President Clinton's presence in Arusha will make a real difference on a peace deal for Burundi and also why would this -- any agreement be successful if it doesn't include a cease-fire and it doesn't involve all parties?
SG: I think it's a very difficult situation. This is a process that it has been going on for a long time, first with late President Nyerere and now with President Mandela. I think considerable progress has been made. The parties are still talking and I would hope that they find a way to bridge the differences that still exist. Ideally they will sign a peace agreement that they will stick to, a peace agreement that will be implemented, a peace agreement that will stand the test of time. I think several leaders are in [Arusha] to support President Mandela's efforts and I hope this will also inspire the protagonists to make peace.
Q :Mr. Secretary-General, we now have 11 British peacekeepers who appear to have been taken hostage in Sierra Leone. This seems to be unfortunately a too common an occurrence down there. Can you tell us anything about what 's being done and what you've heard about them?
SG: I think we are talking to the rebels or the "West Side Boys" as they are called, who have taken these soldiers and the expectations are that they will be released and progress will be made and I hope that it will be the case. But I think we cannot ignore or condone this tendency in Sierra Leone for rebels to take peacekeepers hostage. And as you know we are taking steps to strengthen the peacekeeper, to give them the tools they need to be able to defend themselves and their mandate, and I think the rebels have to be careful not to go around believing that it is easy to take peacekeepers as hostages because they do have robust rules of engagement and they are going to be defending themselves and I hope they'll be dissuaded from pursuing this tack.
Q: Does this mean you expect them to be released today, tomorrow, in the near future? Do you have some indication?
SG: In the near future, yes.
Remarks upon entering UNHQ, 24 August 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: You have been under a lot of criticism lately because of the Dalai Lama not attending the World Summit on Religious Leaders. Do you have any comment or defence of the UN position?
SG: Let me say that I understand that many people are understandably and deeply disappointed that the Dalai Lama will not be here for the Religious Summit next week. But let me also say that this house is really a house for the Member States and their sensitivities matter. This is an issue that the organizers of the meeting have known all along. I believe that the fact that a thousand religious leaders are coming to the UN next week is important. What we have tried to do here, and I think you will all recall, ever since I took over I've tried to open up this house as much as I can to all segments of civil society, and of course I would encourage the Secretariat and the Member States to do so. But let me end by saying that in any effort of this kind you try to make progress, take progress, as you get it, and not hold out for the absolute best. And I personally believe that having a thousand religious leaders here next week talking about peace, talking about our world and praying for all of us and praying for peace is progress. Thank you very much.
Remarks upon entering UNHQ, 21 August 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Are you expecting any major breakthroughs during the Millennium Summit as far as peace in the Middle East peace?
SG: Well I don't know if this would be the place to make a breakthrough on peace in the Middle East. But I think leaders will have the opportunity to discuss the issues, to discuss the kinds of compromises that need to be made. As you are aware, there are lots of consultations going on around the world, and I think it will come to a head here. What I hope is that the efforts that the parties are making with the U.S. mediator, Dennis Ross on the ground, will move the process forward. I think the Middle East leaders themselves are very much engaged in this.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, welcome back. On the report by Lakhdar Brahimi [Chairman, Panel on Peace Operations] that we are expecting in the next couple of days, could you tell us what you hope this report will achieve?
SG: I think the report has tried to analyze the situation in peacekeeping today, and the kinds of crisis we are dealing with. We have made very concrete proposals to the Member States as to how we have to change our mindset and our approach to planning and approving peacekeeping, to make sure that it is much more effective. I hope the Member States will look at the report in that spirit.
Q: What makes you think they will be any more forthcoming than they have been in the past?
SG: Let's test it.
Press encounter after Secretary-General received Honorary Degree at University of Ghana, 3 August 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Kofi Annan, will take just two or three question please, on the subject matter that we are here for today, which is education.
Q: Sir, good afternoon. On the field of education, and the idea of getting an honorary degree, personally, apart from what you said on the platform, what does it mean to you, and how do you think it can inspire youngsters perhaps to move forward in the same field of education, to attain the heights that you have achieved?
SG: Well, I think this afternoon means a lot to me. As I have said, as a Ghanaian coming back home and receiving a degree from this University, is something that I am personally very proud of. I have been to many universities but to come back home and get this reception from my fellow countrymen and women is a very special honour for me. I hope that the message I brought here this afternoon, that education is essential for future development, and that education is what we need to develop and to progress, and that we should do whatever we can to make education available to all, is something that we will all take to heart. It is not something we should leave to Governments alone. Governments, individuals, communities and parents have a role to play and I hope we will all do it.
Q: Sir, you spoke at length on education and on the fact that there is the need for African countries to put a lot of emphasis on education. We are currently confronted with the problem of globalisation and liberalisation. African countries are tottering under the weight of all these factors and our governments are telling us - look - we cannot put so much into education. What other suggestions can you make to African governments, to be able to help the young ones who are not maybe in the Mfantsipims, who are not in the Prempeh Colleges, to be able to have education to push Africa forward? That is my question.
SG: I think one of the main points is that governments and all of us should make education a priority. And if we do make it a priority we can reach up and work with others around the world - not necessarily governments but other universities. I made an allusion to how one can use technology for education. How one can use technology to be able to have access to the best information in libraries outside Ghana and with technology, we should be able to really get a lot done. And I would hope that Governments, international organization and the private sector and indeed civil society, will work in partnership to push this education issue forward.
Q: Sir, you are asking students to use their knowledge to educate their societies and to have education as a priority. Sir, I want to know from you how you expect students to do because our resources are limited and our governments, with respect to provision of facilities for education, are very, very low. How do you expect us to do this?
SG: I think it ties in very well with the answer I gave to the previous question that we should not believe that education is something for the government alone. Each and every one of us can make a difference. When you go home you can teach some of the boys in the community. Your own younger brothers, your cousins, you can talk to them about what you have learned. You can share your knowledge. If you have access to the Internet and you know how to log on you can bring them along and educate them and show them how it is done. There are many ways to educate. It is not always in formal structure in classrooms and universities where you impart knowledge. Whilst the Government is doing its part I think all of us can help push the programme forward so all I am asking you is to become engaged, do whatever little you can do to ensure that knowledge is shared and people acquire knowledge. You may think it's very small or irrelevant, your own efforts, but you will be surprised if each of us did our bit we will be able to make a major contribution. Thank you.
Press encounter at Peacekeeping Library following the Commission of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Teshie, Ghana, 2 August 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Ladies and gentlemen I am very pleased to be able to join you here this morning, I think is significant that today we initiated the first essential steps for the construction and the opening of the peacekeeping training centre. I have always maintained that a good peacekeeper is a well trained and a well -equipped peacekeeper. Ghana has made a major contribution to our peacekeeping efforts around the world and I think for this step it is determined to deepen its commitment to the UN peacekeeping and to the conflicts we face on this continent. I am also gratified that the centre will be opened to troops from other nations on the continent preparing them for action on our own continent and eventually for participation in peacekeeping operations around the world. I will now take your questions.
Q: Tim dell Quarshie, GTV - The big power commit more resources to countries outside Africa. During your term of office how have you reacted to this, or has it been very difficult to change this situation.
SG: Well I think we have a major peacekeeping operation in our region in Sierra Leone and I think that is an indication that things are beginning to turn around. You are right that peacekeeping operations in areas like Kosovo and Bosnia do command greater support from the more prosperous countries around the world and I think this also underscores the nee for us to prepare ourselves and develop our own capacity to be able to play a role in region whilst we look to others to assist us. I think with the deployment of peacekeepers in Sierra Leone we are now looking at possible deployment in Eritrea Ethiopia. We have been given permission to deploy to Congo and we would have done it if the peace process and the peace agreement had held. We are continuing our preparations and if the parties will sign the agreement, live up to the agreement and there is a peace to keep we would also deploy in the Congo.
Q: Your Exellency the President said yesterday that Mr. Foday Sankoh would not be allowed in Ghana for trial. What if other countries reject him as well?
SG: I think all the resolution taken by the security Council is for Foday Sankoh to be tried in Sierra Leone with help from the international community and we are proceeding on this basis.
Q: One significant issue. UN security is dominated by leading powers. What stage has been reached in reform?
SG: Well let me say that the Security Council report is a matter for the member states. There have been several years of discussions and I think everyone is agreed that the Council must be reformed but beyond that basic agreement there is no agreement as to how it should be reformed, how many members, the nature and the extend of the reform. I think at the General Assembly the debate will continue to be intensified and I hope we move forward into the new millennium the member states will find a way of reforming the council to make it more democratic, more representative and thus again greater legitimacy. I think the concern of some of those who have been hesitant of reform is to ensure that the Council is not expanded and made so big that its effectiveness can be affected but I think it ought to be possible to reform the Council to make it more representative as well as effective and I think the member states will find a solution.
MN: Last questions:
Q: People are saying why don`t you stand for President?
SG: I think I have a major headache on my hands and you should let me focus on that. You see the grey hairs this job has given me and I think one major crisis at a time - one major assignment at a time and yesterday I don`t know if you were there at the dinner when I said a friend of mine described my job as a job from hell. It may be a job from hell but I strive to do my best so for the time being I am concentrating on that. Thank you - I have no other ambitions to take another fight.
Comments to the press after signing the Visitor's Book at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, Accra, Tuesday, 1 August 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Introduction: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, the Secretary-General would like to say a quick word.
SG: My dear friends, let me say how happy I am to be back in Ghana with my wife Nane, and the visit here this morning and the tour we have just had. It really takes me back in memory. I was one of this fortunate enough to have grown up in Ghana during the struggle for independence. I was a teenager when the struggle was really engaged and I recall as a young man the energy, the electricity, the inspiration that leaders like the late Nkrumah and others gave us. I grew up at a time when things were changing around me all the time and that period had a great impact on me as a man and as a individual. I grew up believing that change is possible, that you can make changes and one should dare to try to make changes because of the inspiration of leaders like Nkrumah. I am really gratified that I am able to bring Nane here today and for her to walk through this tour with me and to hear a bit about the history of the country, and I am also particularly happy that my good friend Dr Francis Nkrumah, son of the late President, was able to join us this morning and that we have done this tour together. Thank you very much.
Dr Arthur: On behalf of us all we warmly receive you to join you in your tour. I want once again to thank you for honouring us with your visit. Again, I would say that I also want to appreciate you and thank you immensely and for making our dear brother, leader and man of the world to work so efficiently for all and sundry. Please we wish you well.
SG: And we thank you - you have given us a really good morning.
Press conference upon arrival at Kotoka International Airport, Ghana, 29 July 2000 (unofficial transcript)
President Jerry Rawlings: The Secretary-General of the UN would like to have a few words with the press.
SG: Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen of the press. First of all, let me thank you, Mr President and Mrs Rawlings, for coming to meet us. Nane and I are extremely happy to be back home on holidays. We are looking forward to getting some rest and I think there are official parts of the programme which I am looking forward to very much because it will give me the chance to talk a bit more to you ladies and gentlemen of the press and also meet many people I haven't seen for a long time. But for the bulk of the period we are here, we would want to get some rest, rejuvenate, restore our energies and go back to a very hectic programme in the Fall in New York. I will be prepared to take one or two questions.
Q: Your Excellency, may I, on behalf of all my colleagues, welcome you back home to Ghana. I would like to start off on a more personal note: how do you feel coming home as the head of an august body like the United Nations?
SG: I am always happy to be home. Of course I have been abroad, I have travelled the world, but my roots have always been here, and to be able to come back home and meet the Ghanaian people, friends and family, is also a way of restoring my energy and renewing my 'African-ness' and going back to continue my work. So it is always exhilarating, and I think Nane and I always look forward to coming here. I could see the excitement as the plane - and Ama too, my daughter, is also here - and the excitement as the plane approached Accra, so we are very, very happy to be here.
Q: Your Excellency, one of your major initiatives was the peacekeeping initiative or operations. Now, the UN has a need to take care of more conflicts particularly in relation to Africa. What are your plans to make sure that conflicts are prevented instead of solving them?
SG: Let me say that I couldn't agree with you more that it's always better to prevent conflicts rather than deploying peacekeeping troops, and wherever we can, we prefer to prevent them and prevention is always better than cure, but it takes two to tango. The protagonist must be prepared to accept help, to accept the good offices of the Secretary-General or the international community, for one to be able to nip a problem in the bud. Where that will is, problems can be prevented. The sad part is when conflicts are prevented, the press don't get to write about it. How do you know when conflicts have been prevented? How do you ascertain whether there would have been a conflict or not? This is the problem we have, but when it blows up and the blood begins to spill, the cameras are there and everybody is there. But let me assure you that conflict prevention, early warning system, is very much an essential part of our work and we would always prefer to prevent a conflict rather than have to deploy peacekeeping troops, which is a complex and expensive and difficult operation.
Q: Mr Secretary-General, if you look at Freetown now, we are talking of the trial of Foday Sankoh. What is your position on a situation like this? Do you think it is good for Africa, is it good for the solution of a problem like this?
SG: The Security Council has a draft resolution before it before it regarding the trial of Foday Sankoh. I think we are all aware of what happened in Sierra Leone and the atrocities which were committed there. The question I would want to put back to you is: should we allow impunity to stand? Should we, as Africans, encourage this sort of thing, or indeed the world? We talk a lot about human rights, the respect for the human being and human dignity. If such crimes are committed and nothing is done or said about it, what do you think will happen tomorrow? Thank you very much.
President Rawlings: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen of the press.
Remarks upon arrival to UNHQ, 28 July 2000, on Cyprus (unofficial transcript)
Q:The talks in Geneva are in a crucial stage. What is your advice to the two leaders?
SG: I think my advice to the two leaders is that we've been searching for a solution for a long time and I would hope that both of them would come to the negotiating table this time ready to address and tackle the core issues in a spirit of give and take. One has to make compromises to get compromises. I think we, by and large, know the outlines of each of their positions. And I hope we could now try and find ways of bridging the positions so that we can make real progress.
Q: And the message to the Cyprus people - to the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. What is your message?
SG: I think I know that they have lived once together before. They are now divided. But this sort of divisions, as we've seen in today's modern world, do not last forever. And I hope they themselves would be encouraging their leaders to make peace - a peace that is mutually satisfactory, and a peace that will bring final settlement to the island. I wish the leaders, who are at the table, and the people of Cyprus - Greek and Turkish - every success, and they have my full support.
Remarks made by the Secretary-General upon entering UN Headquarters, 24 July 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, we understand an announcement is forthcoming on the deployment of troops -- UN peacekeepers in Lebanon -- can you comment at all about when and where these troops will go and what they'll do?
SG: Well, I hope we'll be able to deploy the troops to the southern border. As you know after the Israelis withdrew they have been patrolling but they haven't deployed actually to the border and I hope to see that done in the next few days. What had held us up is that we were hoping to clean up all the violations of the blue line before we did that. The violations have now all been cleared. I'll be reporting to the Security Council today with the latest developments on the ground. And then I will also expect to speak to President Lahoud of Lebanon. And the UN troops would deploy to the border and the Lebanese would also deploy their own troops alongside the UN troops. The two commanders are working on the details of this. That is the UN and the Lebanese military officials are working out on this so I hope in the next few days we'll see our troops on the border.
Q: Terrific. One other question: we understand there was more activity in Sierra Leone concerning Jetley's - General Jetley's - force over the weekend. They're proving to be a force to be reckoned with there in Sierra Leone. Can you comment at all about what happened over the weekend?
SG: Well, it was a preemptive strike against a group of rebels who were planning an attempt to attack the force. So the UNAMSIL commander decided that they should make a preemptive strike to disperse that unit before they were attacked and basically we are going to remain vigilant we are going to remain firm and anyone who attempts to attack the peacekeepers would know that they will defend themselves and that there will be a price to pay.
Remarks by the Secretary-General upon entering UN Headquarters, 19 July 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: I understand Mr. Arafat tried to contact you yesterday but was called away. Have you been in touch subsequently with any of the parties at Camp David, and what did they tell you?
SG: As you know there is a blackout and therefore I would prefer not to say anything that would affect the talks which are ongoing. What I will say is to urge all parties to really focus on the issues as we get down to the wire in the spirit of give and take and make the kind of compromise that is necessary for them to get compromises so that we can move on. I think we are, from what I gather, at a very critical stage and President Clinton will be leaving for Tokyo. I hope there will be some sort of progress before he leaves.
Q: Have you been in touch with anybody there?
SG: I have been in touch with a senior member of the Palestinian team, yes, but I can't tell you what we discussed because of the blackout. It should be respected within and without the [inaudible].
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the Indonesian President has said that he may ask for outside help in the Moluccan islands and he has also admitted that some of his troops may be aiding the Muslim militants. Do you have any more information about this? Do you think you'll be calling him soon or talking to him again?
SG: I have spoken to President Wahid on this issue and urged him to take all necessary measures to bring the violence to an end. He did assure me that his Government is doing its best and will intensify their efforts to bring the situation under control and we have decided to say in touch.
Q: Sierra Leone: Does the action that freed the peacekeepers on the weekend set an operational precedent in your view and can you shed any further light on the details?
SG: The Force Commander and his men have used the rules of engagement that they have. They have the right to use force to defend themselves and their mandate and I think they did a very professional and a credible job last week and I applaud them for that. General Jetley will be visiting New York early next week for us to have further discussions on the operations and I think you'll have a chance to talk to him then.
Secretary-General's press encounter, Lome, Togo, 12 July 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Basically you have come out of a meeting talking about Sierra Leone. Could you brief us about how discussions are going on the meeting ?
SG: I think this is the second meeting on Sierre Leone since I came here yesterday. I met with West African leaders to discuss the political aspects of Sierra Leone and the directions in which we are going. And today I met with national commanders, army chiefs from Nigeria, Guinea and Ghana couldn't get here but the Foreign Minister was there with General Jetley [from the UN mission] in Sierra Leone. Discussing some of the operational difficulties on the ground and the need for us to work as a force that is solid and solidaire and that really works together to implement the mandate and I think there was unanimity as to what we should do: full support for General Jetley and full support for our efforts on the ground. There are certain missing equipment that we need to provide for the contingents on the ground. Some of the Western countries have promised and it will be my responsibility to press them to deliver. It is one thing not to put troops on the ground but it is another not to provide the equipment that have been promised.
Q: Inaudible (on diamonds and sanctions)
SG: Yesterday we did discuss with the political leaders and the decision taken by the Council to ensure that sanctions are imposed and that neigbouring countries do not facilitate smuggling of diamonds particularly by the RUF to continue the war. We hope that in time the diamond areas will be brought under governmental control and the riches exploited for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone who have suffered and suffered long enough and hopefully will one day see peace, stability and prosperity.
Q: Your Excellency one Mr Ralph Wazuruke who said he is fighting for the freedom of the people of Biafra in Nigeria wanted to have peaceful demonstration here yesterday morning and he was arrested. We traced him to the police station where he was being held. But we were not allowed to talk to him. I do not know if you can be able to get him released or how can you assist him ?
SG: I was not aware of this incident until you mentioned it. And so I will have to get a bit more details on it and see what I can do.
Q: Actuellement, Monsieur le Secrétaire général, selon les statistiques le SIDA tue dix fois plus que les guerres et surtout dans les pays pauvres. Qu'est ce que votre institution fait pour ramener le traitement au niveau des pauvres ?
SG: Comme vous le savez, il y' a l'ONUSIDA qui travaille beaucoup avec les pays africains. On a un programme contre le SIDA. On est en train d'essayer de travailler avec les usines pharmaceutiques pour nous aider avec les médicaments, médicaments à bon marché que les peuples peuvent acheter parce qu'aujourd'hui c'est très très cher. Il y a premièrement la prévention, il faut essayer de réduire le taux d'infection qui est très élevé en Afrique, il faut essayer d'aider les gens déjà infectées, il faut continuer avec la recherche sur le vaccin qui peut aider à lutter contre le SIDA, donc l'Afrique seule ne peut pas faire face à cette épidémie. La communauté internationale va travailler avec l'Afrique, et je crois qu'elle est déjà en train de le faire. Et moi-même je plaide beaucoup pour l'Afrique et on va continuer à le faire.
Q: Inaudible (on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo).
SG: I have had bilateral discussions with President Paul Kagame and President Chiluba and of course President Bouteflika. But of course you are right that President Kabila and his allies were not here and so we could not have a sort of a mini summit on Congo as we had on Sierra Leone. But I hope we will have the opportinuty. There is always a tomorrow. Don't give up ! We will have the chance to do it.
Press conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, Berlin, 3 July 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Introductory statement by Chancellor Schroder (translated from German): Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a real, honest pleasure to yet again, for the second time, receive His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations here to Germany. We have also had a look at his programme, which is as comprehensive, as [inaudible] here in Germany. The first item on the agenda was that the Secretary-General did visit the EXPO exhibition in Hanover. He then inaugurated the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and then proceeded to the Urban 2000 Conference, which will also be honoured by his presence and inaugural comments. The things that we have talked about and the atmosphere during the conversation very much emphasises the fact how close the ties are between Germany and the United Nations, and I had an opportunity of re-emphasising this very relationship is at the core of our interests in the field of German foreign policy too. I have also expressed that I am already looking forward to the meeting that we will have, the next one, on the occasion of the Millennium Summit in New York, and I am already looking forward to continuing our interesting exchange of experience there. We then proceeded to talk about United Nations reform and I have to say that quite a lot has already been achieved and we would make a mistake in underestimating the progress which was achieved so far. We proceeded to address the agenda for the Millennium Summit. I found the points interesting and encouraging. I also thought it was a great idea to organise working groups that would get together in round tables. I certainly think that this is the right step. I don't think I need to specifically emphasise the fact that Germany will continue to live up to its commitments regarding peacekeeping measures and missions around the world. We will certainly go I and fulfil also the material commitments we have made to this effect. I have then proceeded to inform His Excellency, the Secretary-General, about efforts that we have undertaken in the field of providing debt relief to the poorest countries of this world, which in fact met with approval. So from what you can see, we have addressed a wide agenda of things and generally I can only say it was instructive and we very much shared the same views on things.
SG: Thank you very much, Chancellor. Let me say that I am also very happy to be back in Berlin. Of course I can see the changes that have taken place since my last visit, and it's a sign of a vibrant and dynamic capital. And I was also able to thank the Chancellor, and through him the German people, for the great and consistent support they have given to the United Nations and to me personally.
In fact, as he has indicated, not only did I attend the Hanover Exposition, but I was quite impressed to see the number of countries and organisations participating in that exposition, almost the size of the United Nations with our 188 member states. In fact, I did jokingly say, if this continues, the mayor of New York is going to get worried - he may think we are taking seriously the periodic threats to move the UN headquarters to Germany.
But what I also wanted to say is, we did discuss the essential issue of economic and social development, the question of alleviation of poverty, the question of bringing those countries that have been marginalized into the global economy and into the global market place. And I think that is an essential task for all of us, and the Millennium Summit will have the chance of dealing with these issues. In the report that I submitted, we deal with the six main areas: globalisation, governance - it is a challenge for all of us, developed and developing. We also dealt with poverty, peace and security issues, the environment, and renewing the United Nations, and basically asking governments what sort of United Nations they want.
We are at the beginning of the new century, and we have an opportunity to reaffirm our belief in this Organization and make it what it ought to be, and position it for the new century. What is it that we are prepared to put into the Organization? The UN, as you know, is you, your Government, my Government, and it can be as important, and as active, and as successful as the governments and the people want it to be. So let's make this Millennium Summit a real turning point, and a real success story for our Organization. Thank you very much and we will take your questions.
Q: Just one question. A very important role, the United Nations places of course, is on Kosovo. Recently the Serbian Bishop of Kosovo, Bishop Artemije, was also in the United States, had also a short meeting with you, where he complained not only about the unsatisfactory situation about the Serbs but all non-Albanians. My question is, what is the United Nations going to do, what concrete steps, to make the refugees who were expelled - 250,000 - to come back? Thank you.
SG: The situation in Kosovo is obviously a very difficult one. Where there is such enmity between two communities it is not easy to wipe it away overnight. I think the United Nations and the KFOR troops are doing whatever they can to protect all minorities in Kosovo. The international community did not go to war to defend the rights of the Albanians, only to watch them turn on the minorities, and this is something we have made clear that we cannot condone and we do not accept.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, did you predict in your talk with Chancellor Schroder a bigger payment for Germany since the United Nations is trying to lower its contributions? And, one short question to Chancellor Schroder, in your opinion, what, how important is the future role as a possible member in the Security Council? Regarding the situation in Kosovo, you are contributing the biggest contingent of soldiers, for example, and the German UN Ambassador is hardly able to join sessions of the Security Council.
SG: We did discuss the question of reform of the scale of assessment and how much each member state should pay and the US' desire to see the scale changed so that it would pay 25% instead of 31% for peacekeeping, and 25% to 22% for the regular budget. But I am not in a position to advise Germany or to tell Germany how much its share of the budget should be - this is a matter for the entire membership to decide. They settled on a scale and it is up to them to amend the scale. The US is seeking very much to change the scale and to reduce its payment and of course it's a zero sum game: if the US succeeds in reducing its payments, other countries will have to pick up the slack. How that will be distributed, if and whether the member states would agree to this is really up to them. And I did not go into those details.
Chancellor Schroder (from interpretation): Certainly Germany would be ready to take on greater responsibility regarding the question of potential presence on the Security council, but we are far from a situation where we would think about pushing into that direction. This is certainly a subject that requires utmost care and discussion with our European partners and other partners around the world, too. Same thing is true regarding material commitments that might be involved by such a change in position, but certainly I have to say that if there is going to be a change in the system, we are certainly aware of a change in the pay structure which would have to be sorted out.
Statement after signing the Golden Book of the City of Hanover, Germany, 1 July 2000 (unofficial transcript)
The Mayor of Hanover, Mr. Herbert Schmalstieg, welcomed the Secretary-General, in German, to Hanover. The Secretary-General then responded.
SG: Mr. Mayor, let me thank you for this warm reception that you have given to [me,] my wife and my team that came with me from New York. I think from what you have said, no one in this room will have a doubt, any doubt, that you are a citizen of the world. You are a citizen of the world because you realize that you cannot just focus on Hanover and that what is happening in other parts of the world has an impact on your city, and not only as a city, you've engaged the rest of the world.
Personally, you have been very active in many parts of the world. I applaud that approach and that attitude, because I think that that is the only real way of managing a city, of leading a city in this global era. On our way here you did talk to me about the Near East, you talked to me about Western Sahara and I also know that you are the longest-serving German Mayor. During that period of 25 years you have done a lot for this city and I think you have a lot to offer not only Germans, but other citizens around the world. I am particularly happy that for a brief period the United Nations has moved to Hanover and you can claim you have your own United Nations of 180 Member States participating in the Fair. I am also happy that we have a pavilion. I see that Nadine Hack, who has been organizing the pavilion, is here with us and I am looking forward to visiting the pavilion and to seeing some of the pavilions, not just the UN pavilion.
So, Mr. Mayor, let me thank you for welcoming me and also for receiving the world. Thank you very much.
Press conference, Budapest, Hungary 30 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me just say a few words and then I will take your questions. I have had a very good talk with your Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, with both the President and the President-elect, and with leading members of parliament.
It was particularly interesting just now to meet members of the Roma community and hear about their problems.
What I found most encouraging was to hear from your leaders that Hungary wants to play a more active role in global affairs.
Hungary is already a good member state of the United Nations - paying its dues on time and playing its parts in peacekeeping operations around the world. But there is a much broader global agenda waiting for the active engagement of dynamic and enterprising nations like yours.
I tried to set out that agenda in my Report for the Millennium Summit "We the Peoples", which I published just three month ago.
There is the battle for freedom from want, which means liberating roughly half the human race from misery and squalor - giving them save drinking water, basic education, and the chance to make a living for their families in conditions of minimum human dignity.
There is also a battle for freedom from fear, which means preventing deadly conflict, enforcing human rights and humanitarian law, and doing away with weapons of mass destruction.
There is also the battle for a sustainable future, which means ensuring that we leave our children a planet that is still inhabitable. I was very glad to hear your Prime Minister and your President say that Hungary would support any international initiative to protect the environment, provided that it was legally binding and that it clearly defined the responsibilities of states.
That is exactly the direction we need to move in. We must move on to the "green accounting" so that destroying the environment on depleting natural resources no longer count as factors of wealth, but are recognised as costs which have to be paid for.
And there is, of course, the battle to renew the United Nations itself, making it an effective instrument in the hands of the world's people to confront all these problems.
The UN must be at the centre of a new system of global governance, based not on centralised authority but on informal networks and partnerships. That way, we can all face together the problems we share in an age of globalisation - and we can solve them on a basis of our shared global values, which are the values of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
You see, that's quite a big agenda. I hope it will be discussed very seriously at the Millennium Summit in September, when political leaders from all over the world have the chance to come up with a plan of action. We very much need Hungary's participation.
But I expect you to have some questions for me.
Q: My understanding is that you have met some representatives of the Roma community during your stay here. What is your impression of the situation of the Romas in Hungary? There was, as you know, a report about discrimination and the European Union has also expressed its concern. How do you see this situation based on your discussions?
SG: I had very good discussions with the Roma representatives and of course the Minister of Justice, but I also discussed it with the highest level of Hungarian leadership, with the President and the Prime Minister and I was very encouraged to know that they recognize that there is a problem and they are taking steps to do something about it. I was also pleased to know that they are working together with the Roma community in solving this problem. I think my interest comes from the human rights point of you and the way minorities are treated or play or do not play a role in society. And so I'm leaving here encouraged that the problem is being tackled and that the minorities concerned are themselves engaged in the search for a solution.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you expect any step forward in September during the Millennium Summit concerning debt relief?
SG: It is one of the recommendations in my report and I hope that the leaders who are coming to New York will decide to offer deeper and a faster dept relief for the poor countries some of whom spend much more money on dept repayment than on education or health. And if the burden continues, I don't see any hope for them getting rid of or even reducing poverty.
Q: Secretary-General, do you expect that the United Nations would regain its role it had after the Second World War, especially the Security Council which had been bypassed in the past years? Can you trigger this process?
SG: We are trying to get there, we are trying to renew and re-energize the United Nations. The essence of all the reforms and the proposals is to re-position the UN and give it the dynamism it needs and the strength it needs to be able to tackle the major problems I have listed that we are all aware of. But the UN is the Member States, the UN is you and me and it can be as strong as the Member States want it and this is why the support and the commitment of the Member States, of civil society, of the private sector and individuals, like you and me are extremely important. And I think in this new century I hope we will all come together and work in partnerships and make the UN the organization it ought to be, because we really do need it for this global era, for it to set up norms, practices that will help us navigate this era and at least we have something to start with. We have the values the UN has given us and as we develop international law and norms, this global community is international law and it's only the UN that can help develop that law.
Q: May I relate directly to that very point? What are the most difficult obstacles in your eyes in the way to the necessary reforms?
SG: I think the main obstacle is the tendency on the part of governments to define the national interest in a very narrow way. In this globalized world I think it is wrong to define national interest narrowly and selfishly. Because whatever happens globally has an impact on the local and whatever happens locally has an impact on the global. It is, therefore, essential that we see our interest in much broader terms. How can you defend yourself against crime and money-laundering if you don't work with others? How can you prevent and protect yourself from diseases in an era where people are moving around so much if you don't help combat disease, if you don't help in finding vaccines to eliminate the diseases that may be in one region, but it will not say in that region long, because we all travel. And so, I think the main task is education and necessary change of mindset for us to look at these problems differently. But I Think there is hope, there is hope because the public are becoming engaged. The young people are becoming engaged. The public are determined to play a role and have a say in the decisions which affect them And that new impetus, what I call the new diplomacy, the people power, which is putting energy and pressure behind governments and international organizations to be responsible, is going to be a very effective factor and I hope we can continue to work with them. Thank you very much.
Q: What does the reform mean in connection with the most criticized personnel and budget issues of the Organization?
SG: It is a very crucial issue. We cannot reform or manage an organization effectively on a shoestring budget. So one of the first thing we need to do in this Millennium year is to push and encourage every government to honour their financial commitment to the United Nations. It is a legal obligation in my mind, it is not a gift, it is not charity. Secondly, I think we need to have everyone become engaged. We need to work together to defeat some of the perils and the dangers that I have described. So, we would want to work in partnership with civil society, NGOs, with individuals, with the public at large and the private sector. And I think if we work collectively, and we engage and bring our collective effort to bear, we can make progress and we can also strengthen the United Nations. And by working in partnership, the United Nations can also do much more than trying to do alone. Thank you very much.
Press conference with Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, Budapest, 30 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
PM: (Translated from Hungarian) First let me welcome you, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a great pleasure for me to meet the Secretary-General of the United Nations once again. This is actually our second meeting. But this is the first official meeting. Earlier, I had the privilege of having accepted the invitation of the Secretary-General when I was on a private visit to New York.
During our present meeting we discussed three major areas. You may all be aware of the fact that the Secretary-General prepared his Millennium Report. I briefed the Secretary-General about the most important issues and chapters of this Report and how they were perceived in Hungary. The second major area was environment and environmental protection, which is a particularly important issue both for the United Nations and Hungary. And I briefed the Secretary-General that Hungary is going to support any international initiative that aims to protect the environment, which contains legally binding regulations, and which also defines the responsibilities of the individual states. The third major area were the issues related to the region itself.
I also informed the Secretary-General how we see the situation in the region, in Hungary, in the surrounding areas, in Central Europe and also the most important positions of Hungarian foreign policy. I also told the Secretary-General that Hungary considers itself as a stabilizing factor in the Carpathian basin and the Central European region. And we consider that one of our missions is to play this role of a stabilizing factor in the region, including in South-East Europe. We hope this will reduce the number of regions and areas that may cause concern for the United Nations. Thank you.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. Let me add briefly that I enjoyed immensely my conversation with the Prime Minister. It gave us a chance to take stock of the issues that are of great concern for both Hungary and the United Nations. It also gave me the chance to congratulate the Prime Minister and the Hungarian people for the great strides they have made in the last decade, both in economic and political terms. And I encouraged him that this experience should be shared with other countries in transition. Because your experience is directly relevant to what they are struggling to achieve. We reaffirmed our belief in the United Nations and the fact that we should continue to strengthen the UN for the new century that is beginning. I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Hungarian people for the continuous support they have given to the United Nations and as we move into the new century I look forward to a very close collaboration. Thank you.
And now we would take your questions, but I hope that all the questions will be directed to the Prime Minister [laughter].
Q: My question is to the Secretary-General: What do you think the United Nations can do as regards the situation in Yugoslavia?
SG: Well, the International Community has attempted to put quite a bit of pressure on the Yugoslav Government through the imposition of sanctions. We have tried through information and discussions with the opposition leaders to accelerate the process of democratization. Obviously, these efforts have been of limited success. And we need to think of more creative means of encouraging Yugoslav society to go through a democratic transformation. How long that will take is anyone's guess.
Q: [inaudible] (The question related to the effectiveness of economic sanctions on Yugoslavia and Iraq.)
SG: I think the question of economic sanctions is now being debated widely, including within the Security Council. Its effectiveness and its impact on the innocent population is a concern to all of us. And I myself have had the opportunity to raise this issue and the moral dilemma this imposes for the United Nations and the Security Council itself.
In the sense that the United Nations is an organization that has always been on the side of the poor, the vulnerable and the weak, and has always tried to alleviate their suffering. But in a situation like Iraq we are being partially blamed for the suffering of a whole population. But we must remember that the Council and the Members of the Council are sensitive to this issue. And that is why they have introduced the 'oil for food' scheme to be able to help the Iraqi population. When the scheme started, the ceiling for Iraqi oil exports was 2 billion dollars. On my recommendation the Council increased that to 5.2 billion dollars every six month. And in the latest resolution adopted by the Security Council 1284, there is no ceiling on the Iraqi oil exports. And most recently with the end of last phase they have sold 8.2 billion dollars worth of oil. Obviously the 'oil for food' scheme helps but it is not the solution. The real solution is for the Government of Iraq to comply with the UN resolutions, Security Council resolutions and work with the inspectors in disarming Iraq so that the sanctions can be lifted.
In the meantime, we as an organization and I personally will do whatever I can to help and assist the Iraqi people. Sorry that I have given you a long answer but it is an important issue. Discussions are going on as to how in future we can make sanctions more focused, more targeted against the leaders whose behaviour we want to change. And not introduce measures which are seen as blunt instruments and harm the population who are not the intended target. Thank you.
Q: This is a question for the Hungarian Prime Minister. (Translated from Hungarian): The Secretary-General of the United Nations is going to meet the representatives of various Roma organizations and we know that various international organizations have criticized the situation of Romas in Hungary. How would you assess their present situation?
PM: We have to distinguish between two kinds of criticism in the context of the Roma issue. One field deals with the actual situation, the economic, social and educational situation of the Roma population in Hungary. It is a very difficult situation indeed. Whatever criticism is mentioned in that field, I agree with. But, as far as the various actions of the Government in that field are concerned, I usually disagree with those comments and criticisms. Because we are aware of the difficult situation and we try to find a solution. I'm absolutely sure that we have efficient and effective projects, we have invested a lot of money in those.
I think we have found the two most important channels along which to proceed: job opportunities for the adult population and accessible, qualitative and obligatory education for the children. I think these are good channels, good directions. But I think everybody must understand that a segregation and a handicap of about a hundred, a hundred and fifty years cannot be made up in the matter of a few years. But we are determined to carry out with the projects.
SG: I would also want to thank the Government for facilitating my meeting with the Roma representatives. I think it shows an openess in the society which I respect and I'm encouraged by the comments of the Prime Minister. And if you don't mind, I saw a very young journalist, I think she is only 12 years old with a press badge, if she would want to ask a question. She has been following me all the time and I would like to give her the opportunity.
Q: How do you find the rights of children in Hungary?
SG: How do I find the rights of children in Hungary? I think that is a very good question and I'm really excited that it comes from you. Because I often say that when I want to know about how children and teenagers feel, I should talk to them because they are the experts in being children. And I'm very glad that you raised the question of the rights of children in Hungary. I must admit I do not know enough details about this issue but I like what I have seen. The fact that you are here participating in this press conference and asking me this question is a good indication. It gave you a chance to participate and I hope you agree with me. Next year with UNICEF we are going to organize a global conference on the rights of the child. And I would encourage you and your friends and others to follow that process very closely. If you have any ideas of what we should do better, don't hesitate to write to me. I would be very happy to receive your ideas. Thank you.
Press Conference with Foreign Minister of Hungary, Janos Martonyi, Budapest, 29 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
The Foreign Minister opened the press conference with a statement in Hungarian.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. Let me first say how happy I am to be here in Hungary and I am very satisfied with the discussions we had this morning. The Minister ended on the note of values, and I think it is a very important comment. Because if indeed we do have an international community, like all communities we need something to bind us together. Communities are bound together by shared values. And I think in the international community we also need that. And I think these shared values are the United Nations Charter and the International Declaration of Human Rights which holds us all together.
Hungary is a very important member of that Community. It plays a very effective role in the United Nations. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I don't look at countries in terms of small and big, but indeed in terms of the contribution and what they bring to the table. There are many small countries in the UN which are punching above their weight and really bring ideas, participate in all areas of our work, meet their financial obligations, participate in peacekeeping work, and Hungary is one such state.
I would also want to say that I personally, and I think I speak for the entire United Nations System, have been very impressed by the progress that has taken place in this country in the last decade--the achievements you've made and how successfully you've transformed your economic and political systems. And in fact I was encouraging the Foreign Minister that your experience, your achievements, are a great inspiration for other countries in this region and beyond who are trying to achieve the same thing.
One area we talked about which I would want to stress here is the question of the environment, and the need for all of us to take special responsibility for the environment and to protect it, and ensure that the way we exploit the resources of the land is sustainable. And I think the recent incident where cyanide flowed into the (Danube) river gives us a good idea of what a polluted environment can mean for all of us. So I was very encouraged to hear that this issue the Minister takes personally and the population also is extremely concerned about.
Thank you very much and we'll now take your questions.
Q: Do you think that in the future environmental issues will be sanctioned harder than before because the environmental sector is much more important than in the past.
SG: I would hope so. I would hope so…. About a couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to speak to young people at Stanford University at their commencement and I focused on the issue of the environment, and a need for us, particularly the young people, to take charge, to really be very sensitive to the environment. And I suggested that we should introduce "Green Accounting". For example, if a company produces goods, in our GDP calculations we capture the value of the goods but we ignore the pollution. They may make lots of money, and lots of goods, but they can pollute the rivers where they will kill the fish-they must be made to pay for that. You have to calculate the environmental cost of production. And if we did that, companies would become quite responsible. I challenged the companies, and particularly the young people in that group I spoke to who are going to be corporate leaders, that corporations have made lots of money polluting the world, polluting the environment, and I'm convinced that they will probably even make much more money cleaning it up and that we should challenge them to work with us. Because if we continue exploiting the resources of the earth the way we are doing it, we will not be able to leave a healthy world to our children, and children's children, particularly your generation. So we all have a responsibility and we should be vigilant.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, What are the concrete steps, the concrete decisions that you are expecting from the Millennium Summit on the part of Member States in September.
SG: In my report, there were concrete suggestions which have been made which I hope the Member States would embrace. I produced that report six months ahead of the Summit so that governments would have time to study the report and prepare themselves for the Summit.
One of the proposals I have is that we should try and reduce absolute poverty by 50 per cent by the year 2015. And we can do it; the resources and the means are there, what we need is the will. I make recommendations for reducing the spread of AIDS, particularly among young people. There are recommendations on how we can bridge the digital divide and ensure that the use of modern technology is also available to those in the developing world. And of course education and health play a very important part in the report. And I've touched on the environment, and the need for us to really deal with this. I also suggested that we should take more energetic action to reform the Security Council, but the final decision is up to the Member States. But I do hope some of these targets, which will constitute a plan of action for the international organizations, for Member States, at the beginning of this new century will be adopted by the Member States.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, only a very few Hungarians are working now in the UN. Do you think that this number can be increased in the future?
SG: There's always a tomorrow and it can be increased in the future. In fact, the Minister and I have talked about it and we've agreed that we're going to work on improving it and it can be done. But I told him also that you'll have to be prepared-the Government and the people have to be prepared-to release some of the good people to come and work at the UN, because things are so good here and some of them are making so much money, that they don't think we can pay them at the UN. But we will resolve it, the Minister and I and the Ambassador will work on it.
Q: Can I ask you, Mr. Secretary-General, today was the day that Elian [Gonzalez] got back to Cuba, and you had previously said he should be living with his father. I wonder if you would care to comment on his return and what the UN could do to deal with such issues in the future?
SG: Well, I'm relieved that this saga is now over, and that the poor boy is finally returning home with his father. And you're right, I made it clear from the beginning that the boy belongs to his father. I think the judicial process in the US has worked, and worked successfully in this case. I don't think it is an issue that the UN would have liked to get directly involved in, particularly when the legal processes were working and working so effectively. I was in Cuba last April, for a summit meeting, and I knew how the Cubans felt, including President Fidel Castro, all of them waiting patiently for a final settlement of this issue. And I'm relieved and happy that it is now over and the boy can live a normal life and go back to school and join his young friends.
Statements to the press of Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek and the Secretary- General, Warsaw, 28 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
PM: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. These are very good days for Poland. There were two international conferences on democracy, one for Foreign Affairs Ministers and the other for NGOs from around the world. Today, we still have with us the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. I would like to sincerely welcome you again, Secretary-General, and express my great happiness that you arrived to Poland. For the last 55 years Poland has always participated in United Nations work, even in the days when we were not sovereign in our decisions. It is only since 11 years that we are sovereign. The Organization of United Nations meant to Poland stability, striving for the world peace, acting against conflicts. Poland participates in many Peace Missions initiated by the Organization of United Nations. We are proud of this. It is an honour to our country, that we are given so important tasks.
Today we talked with the Secretary-General about the upcoming months of UN: the Millennium Session in September (Poland is also preparing itself to participate in this session), as well as the Millennium Report that Secretary General prepared and that is already widely publicized and known. It also sets clear perspectives of United Nations activities for the upcoming years, 20 years as Secretary-General stated.
It is important that the Organization of United Nations operates through international conferences and meetings. Poland draws conclusions from these, implements decisions and agreements, and in result we get a more stable situation on our planet. We have bigger chances for maintaining peace, including those places which remain dangerous. We spoke with the Secretary-General about the Earth Summit in Rio, the scope of this conference, a huge conference held almost 10 years ago. That was also domain of my profession in which I used to be involved for almost 30 years. This matter was also of interest to the Secretary-General. He stressed that the issue of environmental protection on Earth is vital and it is at present one of the main areas of activities of the Organization of United Nations. This pleases me personally, and I want to add that Poland spends these days significant sums of money days on environmental protection. Poland is among those countries that assigns most of its funds for this purpose. Thanking again Secretary-General for his stay in Poland, I ask him to take the floor and give you some information.
SG: Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister. It is indeed a pleasure for me to have had this opportunity to exchange ideas with you and other Polish leaders. It is particularly useful for me because Poland is a very effective and active member of the Organization and you participate fully in the whole range of UN activities. You were a member of the Security Council; you today provide us troops in several locations, particularly in two of the hot spots of the world -- the Golan Heights and South Lebanon, which is on the minds of everyone around the world today. But I was particularly interested also to talk to you about environment and your own commitment to the environment and the work Poland is doing in that area. In my report on the millennium for the Millennium Summit, one of the main chapters is on the environment. I stress the environment because I have a feeling we are not focussing enough on it. Governments are not discussing and tackling environmental issues. We all walk around saying „the weather is changing, the weather is warming up" and climatic change is a reality, but...
PM: ... that was my subject
SG: It was? Okay. It was, good. But what measures are governments taking to tackle this. When are they going to all sign the Kyoto Convention, the Kyoto protocol, and apply it, and reduce green-house emissions? And help protect our air? When are they going to stop polluting the air? When are they going to stop polluting the waters? When are they going to treat the Earth fairly? When are we going to start learning to manage water and ensure that the water tables do not fall? These are important topics and I raise it because at the rate we are consuming the resources of the world, it is not sustainable. And let me end by reminding you of an African proverb which says that the Earth is not ours, it is a treasure we hold in trust for our children and their children. Thank you very much. I am very happy to have been here. Dziekuje bardzo.
[Interpreter translated the above statement into Polish]
PM: I would like to say at the end, Secretary-General, that the Organization of United Nations means more security, balanced development, environmental protection, simply better life for people. We, in Poland, know this exactly. This is why we welcome Secretary-General among us with such joy and satisfaction. We are happy to have him on Polish land.
Press encounter following meeting with the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bronislaw Geremek, Warsaw, 28 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Introduction: The plenary talks of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary-General are finished. I would ask the host first, and than the Secretary-General for brief statements.
FM: (from interpretation) I would like to express great satisfaction that Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, is paying a visit to our country. It gave us the opportunity to express our respect, and our admiration for the activity of the Secretary-General. We had an opportunity to discuss our views on the United Nations System, also on the Millennium Session which is approaching. We were talking about the importance of human rights in the United Nations System, about the fight against poverty as one of the challenges the international community faces, and about the organized crime. I had an opportunity to inform Secretary-General of the intention of the Polish government to extensively participate in all United Nations activities. I also had an opportunity to say that the Secretary-General's initiatives, reforms of the United Nations System, meet with the understanding and full support of the Polish Government.
SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. I have also enjoyed the very useful discussion we have had. I think you covered the ground very effectively and all that I would want to say is that I was also able to thank you, Mr. Minister, and the Polish Government, for organizing the conference on democracy, which was an important conference. And I was also very pleased to see the level and depth of participation in this democratic discussion. And I hope that the UN itself in time will be seen as an organization of democratic states, where the values enshrined in our Charter and the Human Rights Declaration will be not only absorbed by the members, but they will live by it in their daily activities and the way they treat and handle their own citizens and affairs. I think we will take your questions.
Q: Could you sum up the Conference?
FM: I think it is difficult to say this in few words. I have informed Secretary-General that the speech which he gave at this Conference was one of the highlights. The Polish Government agreed at the Conference that it would present to the United Nations Assembly the resolution adopted here in Warsaw, which we call 'The Warsaw Declaration'. So it can become one of the documents of the Millenium Summit. In international diplomacy, events are only the first words, and than these are translated into actions. The Warsaw Declaration gives us an opportunity to launch joint actions. I would say that the best accomplishment of the democracy conference is what Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, namely that he hopes that the United Nations will become an organization of democratic nations and democratic states.
SG: No, I was only going to say that we have to be careful when these meetings take place to expect instant and immediate results. I often compare this sort of conference in the UN itself to a scientist, trying to invent something. Let's say, 99% of the time he may get it wrong, and suddenly he invents something - on the 100th attempt. Was the ninety nine times he tried and failed a waste or creative redundancy? And I think when you look at the way international law and norms and practices are established. It is often through these kinds of discussions, these kinds of exchanges of ideas, exchanges of experience as to how certain countries have tackled issues of the rule of law, democratization, human rights, and have managed to bring about the dignity [inaudible], and then you wake up ten years later, say "here we are, how did we get there?". It almost always begins with a dream and the kinds of discussions that are taking place in Warsaw - yesterday, the day before and today - that will propel them forward to firm democratic institutions maybe ten - fifteen years from now. So we should not sniff at words.
Q: I would like to ask you, Mr. Secretary-General, whether the establishment of democratic club in the UN will affect in any way the work of the UN, the mechanisms of decision-making?
SG: Let me say that our own values as enshrined in our Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are very much the democratic principles and democratic institutions. And I think today no one in the world claims to govern by any other form of government but democratic government. There are variations of democracy and the attempt here is to strengthen those democratic governments or institutions which are weak and for us to learn from each other and to do it. But of course I see the question you are asking, you are asking about the UN itself, the way we govern and the way we operate and that if we are going around the world lecturing others about democracy, are we going to apply it to ourselves? And this question is often asked in relations to Security Council reform, where most people believe that the Council itself ought to be reformed, ought to be made more representative and more democratic by expanding the membership to reflect today's reality rather than geopolitical realities of nineteen-forty-five. That debate is ongoing, the Member States all realize that the Council needs to be reformed, but they have not been able to agree on the nature and the extent of the reform. So I hope in time the Council will be reformed and will be seen as more representative and more democratic, in line with the discussions that you have had here today and what we tell other governments to do. Thank you.
Statement and Q & A session at "World Forum on Democracies", Warsaw, 27 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
The Secretary-General was introduced by Mrs. Mahnaz Afkhami, President of Women's Learning Partnership:
MA: On behalf of World Forum on Democracy I would like to welcome Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who, if anyone needs no introduction in the world, is this man. I would only like to point to one of his extraordinary contributions to the world community. I think that in some three decades that I have worked with the United Nations I have never seen the kind of commitment and compassion and dedication to the cause of the poor, the powerless and the marginalized in the world. And that is what made him so popular. I think that if it was for a free and fair elections -- as we all working for in this Forum -- for the world leader he would certainly win his run.
I also want to point on what he has done for women. I think that he has really done a great deal to press for mainstreaming of women's issues globally and also within the United Nations itself to the point where most of the major UN agencies today are headed by women. I will have to quote my countryman, the Sufi poet Rumi, who has said, 'Beyond all talk of right and wrong doing there is a field. I'll meet you there.' I think Mr. Kofi Annan has done the most to make the United Nations that kind of a field, a field of tolerance, empathy and understanding where we can all meet to find solutions to the problems that we all face in the 21st century. And now it is my great pleasure and distinct honour to call to the podium the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Thank you.
SG: Thank you very much. It is wonderful to look around this room and see so many old friends. And I hope there are potential new friends among you also today. But let me start by telling you that I am going to be very brief, because I did make a statement earlier this morning, and I am sure you have been listening to speeches, perhaps all day, or for several days, and I would not want to impose another one on you. But let merely say I want to thank you, the NGOs, and civil society for the contribution you are making in today's world. I think we are witnessing a new diplomacy, a new diplomacy that has brought civil society into full play.
When I took over as Secretary-General, I realized very early on that alone I could do nothing, and the United Nations itself was limited if it wanted to act alone. And that for us to be effective, for us to be able to have impact on the issues we are dealing with -- issues of human rights, issues of good governance, issues of economic and social development, health and all that, we needed to reach out and work in partnership with civil society, with NGOs, with the private sector, foundations and universities and governments. When I say the UN cannot do it alone, I think it is also equally true that governments cannot do it alone either. And that we need your commitment, we need your engagement. And without working in partnership, we are doomed to fail in our efforts to tackle the issues that we have before us.
Let me give you a couple of examples. I do not believe that today we would have had a ban against land mines without the energy, the creativity and the driving force and the organizing power of civil society at the grass-roots level, with the Red Cross, with the governments. Without you it would not have happened.
The next example is what happened in Rome, when we were discussing the International Criminal Court, which we were determined to see through and you were determined to see it approved, because it was a real missing link in the international legal system. We had an anomalous situation, where a man could be condemned, could go to prison for life or in some situations condemned to death - I am not in favor of death penalty -- let's say that they can go to prison for life for killing for one man but they can go scott free if they kill ten thousand, hundred thousand. And now with this International Criminal Court, which I hope governments will ratify, so at the early part of this century it will come into force we will have plugged this missing link. And it will be a great gift to humanity for us to send out a message that impunity will not be allowed to stand. And that there is a Court, and if we come across such criminals we do not have to worry about do we set up a special Court for them, do we create another International Tribunal - there is a Tribunal that will put them on trial.
Our relationship has not always been easy. Sometimes you believe the UN and the international organizations try to control you. I do not think that is always correct. I know sometimes you do give us some discomfort but you are essential partners. We need you. Often you can say and do things that I cannot do because I have bosses - the governments. Between limits, I push the envelope. I push it as far as I can but you are the icebreakers on many issues and we come behind you and follow, and work through and give it a form. Other times you may criticize us and do things that we would not have done it that way, but you are an essential partner and I hope our partnership will grow in strength.
And as far as I am Secretary-General of the UN, the doors of the UN will be open. We will listen to your ideas as we did last month when we had the first Millennium Forum for NGOs to come to New York to discuss the Millennium Summit and my report "We, the peoples" and give their own input and ideas for the Summit.
In August, we have religious leaders coming to New York for the same purpose, to be followed by presidents of all parliaments in the world who would also give us their views. So the partnership is working. And on 26 of July I will meet with a number of CEOs in New York to discuss the global compact which I launched at the World Economic Forum in January 1999, basically encouraging these corporations to respect human rights standards, core labour standards and the environment as they operate around the world.
These multilateral corporations have lots of influence and they should use it constructively and effectively. The corporations do not have to wait for a specific country to pass a law for them not to employ children. They need not have to wait for governments to pass a law to pay decent wages. They need not have to wait for governments to pass a law to ensure that they do not pollute the river or the lake that produces fish for the local population. So when I talk of partnership we mean real partnership with all the stakeholders. On July 26 it will not only be the CEOs but the trade unions will also be there. I hope that working together we can make this world a better place. Thank you very much.
Q: His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan. In this seminar we are thinking about the three legs of democracy, which is the state, the local societies and the market. If the UN is the place for the state and Davos is for the market, then this World Forum for Democracy is for civil society. Do you agree to this idea? Thank you.
SG: I am not sure I would make those sharp distinctions. If you divide it that sharply we may have to be careful that our worlds would never meet. I'd prefer to think that the UN also is the place for civil society, is the place for governments, is the place for NGOs, and is the place for corporations. Yes, we are an association of governments, the UN, but our Charter also enjoins us to protect succeeding generations from the scourge of war and to protect the dignity of the individual.
The human being is at the center of our Charter and at the center of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And so, let me put it this way - even though we are an organization of governments, the ideals and the principles we exist to protect belongs to you, the people. And therefore when there are issues that the UN is dealing with you cannot leave it to the governments alone. It's your concern, it's my concern and we need to work together. And thus the UN is a universal organization that should be seen in a much broader context.
I think in the past we made mistakes, we were a bit more restrained, we limited ourselves to governments. We were close to the outside world pretending that the issues we were dealing with were so complex, that people outside that glass house in New York cannot understand, forgetting that it's the same animal that lives in the UN building that lives outside. And I think we have managed to bridge that gap and so the UN is your organization too. And I think Davos has also realized that they cannot only do it with business people, they are bringing in the trade unionists, the NGOs, and foundations, Red Cross, I can see Mr. Sommaruga there, and I've seen him there many times, George Soros goes in wearing many hats, not just as a businessman. So it is broadened. And I hope you do not see yourself [only] as a forum for NGOs. You have governments here, I am here with you, and I am sure you've got others. It has to be a dialogue, and constant interaction.
Q: My name is Masin Yan from Taiwan. As you know, Taiwan has twenty three million people but because we couldn't be a member of the United Nations, we couldn't participate in any international organizations, including WHO or any environmental organizations. Sir, do you think it is possible to set up a committee to study on the program, on this issue for this coming session? Thank you.
SG: For this coming session of the General Assembly?
Q: Yes, just set up a committee to study this problem.
SG: I'll be very honest with you. I don't think this is possible. I don't think it will happen. The UN has a policy of one China. And that policy is not about to change. Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I am from Pakistan and I think you can anticipate my question, which is about Kashmir. It has been a boiling point for more than fifty years and is there any consideration by the United Nations, and any consideration by yourself, any initiatives to resolve this problem?
SG: You may know that the UN has an operation in Kashmir. We have a group of observers there. But when it comes to the political settlement of the Kashmir issue, the parties to the conflict have to agree to a mediation. The parties, or at least one of them, has prepared to deal with it directly. India believes that Pakistan and India should be able to resolve this issue directly and are not open to third party mediation.
If the parties to the conflicts do not accept a third party mediation, neither the UN, myself, or anybody can interject themselves. But what we can do, is to do whatever we can to encourage that dialogue, to encourage the parties to come together, to encourage them to establish confidence-building measures, and work towards the day when they will come face to face in the sustained manner and try resolve this issue with the support of the entire international community. But the timing has to be right, the parties have to be willing, otherwise the mediator can not do much. Thank you very much.
Press Conference, Warsaw, 27 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman. As my spokesman said, I am prepared to take your questions straight away. So that we could use our time effectively and constructively.
Q: Are you disappointed with the conduct of the election results in Zimbabwe. And do you think the UN should react in any way to the developments in this country?
SG: I think the election in Zimbabwe was a very closely fought election. I think both parties did their best and I noticed the opposition party is happy with the results, moving from 3 seats to 48 seats, the last results I saw. The people have spoken. We must respect their will. And I rejoice for that.
SG: You mean the mandate of the United Nations in Kosovo? The question is, has it been extended, and if not, why has it not been extended? Is that the question?
SG: No, the UN operation in Kosovo will continue. We did submit a report to the Security Council, which reviewed it. We've done one year already in Kosovo and the mandate continues until the Security Council decides otherwise, to terminate the mandate. But the mandate is ongoing and therefore there was no need for a fresh mandate.
Q: Do you think we're witnessing here the birth of global governance, and what are your comments about the significance of this conference?
SG: I think we are living in an interesting era. We are living in a global world, in a world that really challenges us to govern better together to make this world a better and healthier place for succeeding generations. And I think the fact that governments and democracies will come here today to discuss how to strengthen democracy, how to respect human rights, how to respect the will of the people, how to govern effectively, I think is a great step forward. And I hope that democracies will reinforce each other, that they will help democracies in distress and democracies that need to be strengthened. And this sort of collaborative effort and peer pressure where we're requested to steer the governments right I think it will be extremely important. I wouldn't go as far as a global government, but I think we are learning to govern together, and to govern better.
SG: Let me start by saying that the UN's own Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are two basic, strong instruments for democracy. And for one to dream that one day the United Nations itself will be an association of democracies, I don't think it is too wild a dream, given what is happening in the world today and the evolution in the world, where more people today live under democracy than ever before. I don't think it can be excluded that in the not too distant future the entire membership of the Organization will be democratic and we will become a universal organization of democratic countries. Maybe I'm dreaming, but without a dream you don't move ahead. Thank you very much.
Press conference with Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara of Syria, Damascus Airport, 23 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
FM (from interpretation): I would like to seize this opportunity to welcome Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I would like to speak very briefly about the essence of his discussions yesterday with Dr. Bashar Al-Assad. And these discussions were very good, useful, deep and comprehensive and they did not leave any point related to the role of the United Nations, whether in the south of Lebanon or in the region without addressing them.
We would like to express our satisfaction with the role of the United Nations, led by the Secretary-General, in addressing the issues in the region. And I think that you all know that Syria, since the establishment of the United Nations, holds a great respect for the United Nations and for its role. The late President Assad had always stressed the important role of the UN for finding a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict in the region.
The other point that I would like to stress is that the Secretary-General and his aides are going to follow up very closely in order to make sure that the Israeli withdrawal has been completed to the international borders.
I would like to stress again that Syria fully supports Lebanon and it's just request for a full Israeli withdrawal to the acknowledged borders, to the internationally acknowledged borders.
And we would like this experience of the United Nations to succeed in the south of Lebanon in order to be reflected in other United Nations resolutions which would lead to a just and comprehensive peace in the region and to the full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories.
SG: Mr. Minister, on behalf of my team, I would want to thank you and through you the Syrian people for the great reception that we have been given despite a very difficult period for the country. I had a very good discussion with Dr. Bashar. We talked about developments in southern Lebanon and the need for us to work together to keep the situation calm, the need for us to deal with the violations as quickly as possible and really clarify the air to make sure that this region remains peaceful.
[inaudible] we reaffirmed the Syrian support for the Lebanese and the fact that 425 should be implemented fully in accordance with the requirements of the resolution and on this I think we are at one and the UN and Lebanon cannot have any differences on this. Our mandate is to ensure full compliance of 425.
And as I have indicated on many occasions, that the withdrawal has been certified, the withdrawal is complete to the "blue line" that we drew. What we are now dealing with are alleged violations and as we speak all this is being checked on the ground and perhaps I will take this opportunity to explain to you how that line was established. That line was based on cartographic [inaudible]. In establishing the "blue line" the UN did a technical job, looking at the cartographic data in the UN, in Washington, in Paris, in New York, in Beirut and in Israel. And all the agreements that have existed between the two countries on the border starting with the 1923 agreement between the British and the French, as well as the 1949 armistice agreement, and the basis of the line was that the line has been drawn and we worked very closely with teams from both countries in drawing. Everyone participated towards a transparent process and I think we did a competent, neutral job and lots of people were engaged.
Now that that line has been drawn with the cooperation of all parties, what is required is to respect that line, that "blue line". This is why I have indicated we will be vigilant on violations and I have instructed UNIFIL, the UN forces on the ground, that beginning this Sunday, they should issue weekly reports of any violations, with copies going to both parties and the report going to the Security Council.
Let me once again thank the governments of Lebanon and Israel for the cooperation they gave us in this task, and my partners of peace in the region who supported us through the process - the governments of Syria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
And of course I would also want to thank my personal envoy Terje [Roed] Larsen for putting tireless efforts, sleepless nights, and long hours to work with everyone to make this possible, and we thank you Terje.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, [inaudible] years of the occupation of southern Lebanon, the United Nations has now moved to implement resolution 425 in Lebanon and now, as the Secretary-General has said, withdrawal has been obtained up to the "blue line", my question now is the following - will the United Nations undertake a role to implement other resolutions pertaining to the Middle East, namely 242 and 338, particularly as Dr. Bashar Al-Assad has welcomed a constructive role of the United Nations in implementing resolutions pertaining to the Middle East?
SG: I think Dr. Bashar yesterday made it clear that Syria has been ready for peace and is ready for peace at any time. He indicated to me that his country has strong institutions and as we can all see, transition has been smooth and there is continuity. There is no need for anyone to force to make peace. I think that it is an important message coming from Dr. Bashar. As far as the UN is concerned, as Secretary-General, I am interested in the implementation of all UN resolutions and particularly in this region. I have maintained that we have made a positive step in implementing resolution 425 but we should not stop there. We should encourage and work hard to see the implementation of 242 and 338 in order to attain a just and comprehensive peace in the region based on land for peace. And as Secretary-General, I would do whatever I can to work with the parties in order to make this possible.
Q: About urging Israel to implement the United Nations resolutions and the legal perspective, where does the United Nations stand here, keeping in mind Chapter VII, Articles 42 and 41?
SG: I think I have indicated that we are interested in implementation of all UN resolutions. And I, as Secretary-General, will do whatever I can to push for the implementation of this and I am going to work hard at it.
Q: Mr. Annan, your Spokesman said yesterday that by today you will be able to verify whether the violations have been cleared up. Are you able now to tell us whether these violations on the border between Israel and Lebanon are verified? And another question to Mr. Shara please, is Mrs. Albright coming to Damascus and does the United States support a UN role for solving the Middle East peace process?
SG: With regard to the violations, let me say that my people on the ground are verifying at the moment - the work is going on as we speak. I hope by the time I get to Europe at the end of the day, that I will have a report indicating the status. I hope the report will be a clean report and as I said, beginning Sunday, these reports are going to be made public and go to the [Security] Council. So I would urge all concerned, in order to save themselves any embarrassment, to make sure that I would be able to give a clean report that there are…whatever alleged violations, whatever disputes or disagreements there are, are cleared up. From then on I am going to give weekly reports to the [Security] Council, so I am waiting for the report from the field. Thank you.
FM: Concerning the second part of your question related to the visit of Madame Albright, Secretary of State of the United States to Damascus, nothing official has so far been transmitted or conveyed to the Syrian Government. But I remember when I met with her in Cairo fifteen days ago, she said to me very clearly - please convey to President Assad that let's put the Geneva Summit between him and President Clinton behind us. We want to have a fresh start in continuity of the peace process between Syria and Israel. In fact that is what we are looking forward to - to resume the peace talks on the basis of the Madrid terms of reference and the land for peace formula and definitely to continue the discussions from where they ended. And I am, as far as this point is concerned, and Mr. Secretary-General, you can correct me if I am wrong - he heard yesterday from Dr. Bashar that Syria is ready at any time, if Israel is ready, to resume the peace talks and it is obvious that the June 4 1967 line is the basis on which we can never compromise and on that basis Syria is ready. He said that Dr. Bashar said that on behalf of Syria and the Syrian people.
SG: I have not completed…Let me say Mr. Minister that I leave Syria encouraged by the discussions I had yesterday with Dr. Bashar. I think we are at a critical stage in the peace process in the region. I was encouraged to meet a man who was on top of the issues, who was very concise and clear in his questions and perception of the matters that we are dealing with, and a man who realizes that he has a historic opportunity to play a role and I trust that he will play it. I walked away with a sense that he was the son of his father and a modern man.
Press encounter at Damascus Airport, 22 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: What subjects will you discuss with Syrian representatives, please?
SG: We will of course discuss the developments in southern Lebanon and the peace process. And by the peace process, I mean a comprehensive and a just peace in the region. In Lebanon, we have been working with the parties implementing resolution 425 and I have ben urging all the parties that we do try to implement 242 and 338 as well. Thank you very much.
Press conference with Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel, Jerusalem, 21 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
PM: Good afternoon. We welcome here the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan. On behalf of the Israeli Government and myself, we convey to him our high appreciation for his role in pushing forward the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425. I believe that the Secretary-General's commitment and devotion to the cause of making peace helped a lot in translating our pullout from Lebanon into the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 in a way that will contribute, I believe, to the future stability of the region and for the well being in normalization of the region of southern Lebanon. I also want to thank on this opportunity the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Terje [Roed] Larsen, who is here with us for a long time, working on this job as well as many other issues that the UN is dealing with in this region. And together with us here is Brigadier-General James Sreenan from the UNIFIL force. We are thankful to UNIFIL and to you General as well.
We discussed the situation in Lebanon and long the border, the steps that Israel is taking in order to enable the continued implementation of 425, in regard to our compliance with the Resolution as well as later on the Lebanese need to resume their sovereignty over their [territory], together with the UN deployment of UNIFIL, and we are waiting that this also will happen. Besides this, we briefed the Secretary-General on the development on other tracks of the peace process as well, and once again we have UN forces on almost every corner of our neighbourly relations with the neighbours here and we are thankful for this participation of the UN as well. I believe that the UN, under your leadership, Mr. Secretary-General, became a much more prominent organization that takes positive steps to make the world a better place to live in. Thank you very much.
SG: If I may say a word, Mr. Prime Minister. Let me also thank you for the cooperation we received throughout this process. Without the cooperation from you and the government of Lebanon, we couldn't be where we are today. I think this is also an important development in the Israeli-UN relationship, that here we are working together to implement fully a Security Council Resolution. And recently, as you know, Israel was also admitted to the Western European [and Others] Group. I hope we will be able to build on these positive developments. But, of course, as I had had a chance to say in New York, this is an important building block on the long road to peace. And we would want this to be seen as the beginning of the end. And we will continue the efforts, or the international community and the parties concerned will continue their efforts, to implement Resolutions 242 and 338, based on the formula of land for peace.
And I know you are working very hard on the Palestinian front as well. And I appeal to all concerned to work hard on this important exercise. Make the compromises concerned to really be able to move the process forward. I firmly believe that if eventually we do have peace in this region, a Middle East that is at peace will be a prosperous Middle East. A Middle East that is at peace and not divided would be a Middle East that will have stronger influence in the world. It is a day that I hope we can all look forward to. But of course as we search for peace and work for peace, it is important that all the countries in the region prepare their publics and that we use the right language; language of peace, language of understanding and language of encouragement. That is also very important. Thank you very much.
Q: The correspondent first asked a question of the Prime Minister in Hebrew, and then put a question to the Secretary-General in English, as follows - Mr. Annan, could you please tell us are you going to work to implement quickly the other items of 425, such as deploying the UNIFIL in southern Lebanon and the Lebanese army also in southern Lebanon?
PM: In regard to the disagreements with the UN, we are going to clarify them, I believe, within the next 24 hours I hope, or maybe 36 hours. But basically we are determined to follow on with the implementation of 425 as far as Israel is concerned. In regard to the village, I believe that an effort will be made by all players to keep the right to, namely that human beings, the citizens who are Israeli citizens, will be able not to be detached from their families, and that we will be able to find them a proper, a practical solution, to this issue.
SG: The purpose of my visit to Lebanon was precisely to deal with the question you raised, and I have had the chance to have very good discussions with the Lebanese leaders and with my own troops on the ground, and we do intend to implement our mandate fully. It began with the certification. We have to work with the Lebanese Government to extend its authority over southern Lebanon, and we will move the troops to the border, and the Lebanese Government has indicated to me that already they have put in a thousand troops and others will follow as the UN also moves down. And we will reinforce the UN troops on the ground.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, after your meeting with the Secretary-General of Hizbollah, do you envisage that Hizbollah has a role in helping maintain stability in southern Lebanon. And to the Prime Minister, if I may, since the Secretary-General mentioned the peacemaking on the other fronts, there seems to be an impression among some of your peace partners that because of your political, domestic, political crisis, perhaps you will not have a government, not be able to deliver on peace. Can you assure them that you can go on with the peace process?
SG: Let me say that Hizbollah is a player, has been a player and is a player, in the south of Lebanon. I had, as you probably read through the press, I had a very good and rank discussion with the leader, and requested that they cooperate fully with UNIFIL and that to do our work effectively, and to keep calm in the place, we need the cooperation of all concerned - the government and non-state actors.
I also indicated to them that when the UN troops move to the South, they will, as I mentioned to the Prime Minister, the Lebanese troops would also move in to the south. But they already moved to the South administrators, police, gendarmerie, who are very active and doing their work. I did tell Mr. Nasrallah that Hizbollah exercised restraint, responsibility and discipline after the withdrawal and that we would want to see that continue. And I am sure from the indication he gave me, that he intends to do it. Obviously he was concerned about the violations, the alleged violations, that we are looking into, and as the Prime Minister said, UNIFIL is looking at it, we are here and we are going to try and sort these things out very quickly.
PM: I have no place for concern. We are determined to move forward on the peace process on the Palestinian tracks and others. In a way, the trouble in the coalition is at least partially the result of our determination to move forward. We could easily have a much wider, much more comfortable government in Israel, in a way much more stable but without the opportunity to move so determinedly towards peace. So we are committed to the real mission that the people of Israel put upon us to change reality here, to put an end to the conflict of one hundred years to the extent that human beings are able to do that. We will, as long as it will not risk or put in danger our vital security and national interests.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you were reluctant to meet with the villagers of Rajar who came here to see you, and yet the UN is going to cause a tremendous human tragedy by separating families. Is there no other way? And a second question, by meeting the Sheikh Nasrallah yesterday, didn't you make him an equal, legitimate partner for any solution in the region or was this your purpose?
SG: I don't think you mean your last question, and so I'm not going to answer that one. But let me say that on the question of the villagers from Rajar, my senior representative, Under-Secretary-General [Kieran] Prendergast has met with them. He's the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, a very senior person in the UN. We are sensitive to their conditions. I myself have written to the Prime Minister, the President of Lebanon, asking that the situation be treated humanely, and their human rights should be respected and that the situation should be handled with sensitivity. The UN did not set out to create problems in Rajar. We had to use the cartographic evidence, the historic material available both here in Israel, in London, Paris, and other centres, to create that practical, the Blue Line, we established. We went where the cartographic and other evidence took us, and it was not to deliberately create a problem.
In trying to calm a situation or make peace or deal with a crisis situation, I think, whether it is the Secretary-General or any engaged and serious mediate, [he] has to talk to all those who have an impact on the situation and can help bring about peace. And it is in that spirit that I have been around this region and met all those I have met. We have worked hard to achieve this situation in Lebanon and I think we should work hard to maintain it. And if I went to this region to speak to [Saudi] Crown Prince Abdullah in Morocco and I went to Teheran, Egypt and Jordan and here, and Lebanon, and tomorrow I go to Damascus, it's all in this effort. Everyone I met was in that spirit and so I am not sure I appreciate the inference from your question.
[A journalist then asked the Prime Minister a question in Hebrew]
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, my question is - I heard a suggestion saying that the Rajar village will become under the custodianship of the UN and will become a territory. Is that a correct proposal or is it just a news report?
SG: I think it must be a news report or it is a proposal but it is not a Security Council decision. I have not been mandated to do that, so it must be a report. Thank you very much.
Press encounter at Meridien Hotel, Amman, Jordan, 20 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I think countries always act in their own interest in these situations, and I think Israel wanted to withdraw from Lebanon. It had been a long-standing struggle and crisis. And I was very pleased, and we all should be pleased, that Israel has finally agreed to implement Resolution 425 after 22 years.
I just came from Lebanon, and I know the Lebanese people are happy and Israeli mothers and parents are relieved that theirs sons don't have to go to southern Lebanon and risk their lives. And I think that is the most important thing. What is also important is that the withdrawal from Lebanon is an important step. We should continue to work on implementation of other resolutions - 242 and 338 - and seek a just and comprehensive peace in the region. And I note that work is continuing on the Palestinian track [inaudible] in the not-too-distant future.
Q: Mr. Annan, how do you think of Jordanian peacekeeping missions?
SG: Jordan has always given us excellent peacekeepers. The best peacekeepers are well-trained and well-equipped soldiers. And the Jordanian soldiers fall into that category. We have been very pleased with their performance, whether in Yugoslavia or Sierra Leone today. And they are doing a very good job in Sierra Leone and I applaud their contribution, their courage and their professionalism. And I also had the chance to thank His Majesty the King for the support Jordan gives to the United Nations and the international community and indicated that in Somalia when the peacekeepers got into trouble, countries withdrew their forces. In Sierra Leone the international community, particularly Jordan, India, Bangladesh, showed resolve and reinforced the troops, sending a message to the rebels that we are not intimidated, we have a job to do and we are going to do it. It is that sort of resolve that the international community has to show in these circumstances. I am extremely grateful to His Majesty the King and to the Jordanian people for this strong support to the international community.
Q: [inaudible] on the peace process what do you think Jordan [inaudible]?
SG: I think Jordan has an important role to play in the region. Traditionally it has always been for peace. The late King made an early decision and an early strategic choice for peace, not just peace between Jordan and its neighbours, but encouraging others to make peace with each other in order that this region will become peaceful, that this region will become harmonious, and I believe that a Middle East that is at peace, a Middle East that is no longer in crisis, would be a prosperous Middle East, and a Middle East that would have a greater influence in the world at large. And I will continue to count on the support of Jordan in all my efforts. And the King and I speak often, and he has given me good advice, even in my efforts with Israel and Lebanon to get the Israel withdrawal. And we will continue to work together. And I think Jordan has a very, very important role to play in the peace process.
Press encounter following meeting with Foreign Minister Abdel Ilah Al Khatib of Jordan, Amman, 20 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
(The Foreign Minister made opening remarks in Arabic and took some questions in Arabic. A journalist then asked the Secretary-General a question in English.)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how do you see Jordan's role in making the Middle East a peaceful region?
SG: I think Jordan has a very important role to play. Even though it always does it very discreetly. You have had a historical role starting with the Late King, and now His Majesty the King is playing a very important role, and I am often in touch with him on the phone, and we met recently in New York. Jordan is a country that has good relations with its neighbours and can talk with everyone, and has access to all the countries in the region and beyond and has a very important role to play, whether it is at the table or it is not at the table. And I value the advice of His Majesty the King and the role of Jordan in these peace processes.
Q: Foreign Minister, wold Jordan be participating in the African operations that the UN is preparing right now - Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, or the Congo?
FM: As I said earlier, Jordan contributes, actually Jordan is a major contributor, one of the biggest contributors to the UN peacekeeping forces. And we are participating already in the UN peacekeeping forces in Sierra Leone and we would be willing to support the UN peacekeeping efforts in different places in the world. We will look at each case on its own merits, but the bottom line is that we are cooperating fully with the UN in this regard.
SG: If I may add something to that. Let me say that I'm extremely pleased with the performance of Jordanian soldiers everywhere they have worked with us, from the Balkans to Sierra Leone, where they are playing a major role. I think the UN could not have mounted that operation in Sierra Leone without the support of the Jordanian Government, His Majesty the King and the Army on the ground. They are working extremely well with the Indian contingent, with the contingents from the West African region, from Nigeria to Ghana, and they are playing a very, very effective role.
I think I would obviously accept the support and contribution of the Jordanian Government for other operations. But I would appeal to other Governments to play their role. We cannot constantly turn to Jordan and the same countries to produce troops. We have 188 Members of the United Nations, and others should follow the example and the lead of Jordan and do exactly the same thing. We live in an interdependent world and what happens in other countries affect us. And Jordan has assumed its international leadership, its sense of solidarity with people everywhere, by participating in peace operations. And I thank His Majesty and the Jordanian people for that essential contribution, and others should follow their lead and do the same, whether it's a new operation in Eritrea and Ethiopia or others that may come up.
Q: Did you request any more troops, any more Jordanian troops, in Sierra Leone?
SG: I haven't requested them at this stage. Jordan has reinforced its troops on the ground, and if I'm sure there's an absolute need for, and [if] I approached His Majesty the King, I'm sure they would want to consider it, but I have not requested additional Jordanian troops at present and at this stage.
(The last question was then posed to the Foreign Minister in Arabic.)
Press conference at the end of the Secretary-General's official visit to Lebanon, Beirut, 20 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, I am just about to leave Beirut having had very useful discussions with the President, Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament and I just saw Mr. Nasrallah on my way to the airport. We have discussed the developments in the south. We discussed the need for cooperation between the United Nations, the government and non-state actors. The cooperation has always been good and we want to maintain it that way. I have asked UNIFIL to continue its work in verifying the alleged violations. We will take any violations very seriously and we will be vigilant in investigating each and every violation and ensure that they are corrected. We will also keep the Security Council and the world informed of any violations. I also had the chance to discuss with them the plans for economic and social development in the south, where the UNDP and the World Bank will be working with the government to do that. And we expect, as I have indicated, sometime in the not-too-distant future, to organize a conference, where major donors will pledge their support for economic development in the south.
Yesterday, I visited the south to talk to the UN troops and to see what they were doing. I was very impressed to hear, get a briefing from them. Their morale is very high. They have been here for 23 years, and now they are on the verge of achieving with the Lebanese government and the people what they came here to do. I would hope that the situation in the south-which has remained calm since the Israeli withdrawal-will continue to be so. I will now take a few questions.
Q: CNN [partially inaudible] How can you recognize [inaudible] continuing …. On the Lebanese territories at the same time you recognize a complete Israeli withdrawal from the so-called UN-identified "blue-line"?
SG: Brent, I think there were three conditions for us to confirm withdrawal. I said three conditions in my report of 22 May, that for the UN to certify Israeli withdrawal, then the Israeli army has to leave, the SLA should be dismantled and the prisoners in Khiam prison should be freed. All these have happened, but now there are violations on the border, and what we are dealing with is a violation, and we are going to make it very clear. When you have these situations, for a brief period after that some violations do occur and we are dealing with it very firmly and that is what it is all about. The argument is about violations and we are going to deal with that very firmly.
Q: [inaudible about Mr. Hassan Nasrallah]
SG: I did not go into the future of Hezbollah with the leader. We did discuss the need for cooperation in the south, and the fact that they have always cooperated with UNIFIL and I would want that to continue at this critical stage.
Q: If the interim forces are deployed on the "blue-line", will it be easier to [inaudible]?
SG: No. I would not strike that as a contradiction. In fact last night I had a dinner with the President and the Prime Minister and we went over some of these. We are in the process of getting the violations corrected now. I don't think this is an issue that is going to take months. It's going to take [inaudible] a relatively short time. And as I have said UNIFIL is in the middle of checking the violations and get them corrected, till they are confirmed and now we will take this up with the Israeli authorities. And so, the question of correcting the violations and UNIFIL moving down is not an issue that is going to take months, since I don't see any contradictions here.
Q: Mr. Annan, how can you see the future of the peace process in the area and then, how can you see all through the future role of the UNIFIL in the south?
SG: I think that with regards to the peace process in the region, I think the US Government - President Clinton and Mrs. Albright and Dennis Ross - have been working very hard to move the Palestinian issue and I hope with all the difficulties associated with it that we will get some results. With regards to the Syrian track there's a new leadership in Damascus and I will be going to Damascus later. We need to give them a chance to settle in and then wait to see what happens, what are the next moves. UNIFIL will continue to do its work. UNIFIL will continue to work with the government of Lebanon in extending the governmental authority over the south and for Lebanon to assert it full sovereignty in the south. And I think in time, once that is done and the area is calm, UNIFIL would eventually withdraw [inaudible].
Q: Future TV [inaudible] … Israelis are more active now ... the deployment of UN peacekeeping personnel in the south.
SG: I don't think that will happen. Let's be careful here not to read too much into what is said or not said. I think what is important is, we have violations that we are dealing with. I have worked in peacekeeping areas for many years. We have often created demilitarized zones and insisted there should be no violations. And violations can be deliberate sometimes, somebody can stray across the border. So we will continue to have little incidents here and there, even after we have cleared the south. We have to be sure of that. But what we are going to do is to be vigilant to make sure there are no violations and UNIFIL, government, and non-governmental actors cooperate to keep the situation quiet. Thank you very much.
Press encounter following meeting with Hizbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah, Beirut, 20 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Spokesman: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have to run to the airport. The Secretary-General will make a few comments. I don't think we'll have time for questions, maybe at least for one or two.
SG: We have had a very good discussion this morning about developments in the south, about the role of UNIFIL in that region, and about the need for economic and social development of that region. We discussed the violations which have been reported which UNIFIL is checking very seriously now. I indicated that we at the United Nations takes all violations very seriously and I have instructed UNIFIL to be vigilant. We are now in the process of checking the alleged violations and we will insist that they are being corrected. I myself will be in Israel in two days' time and I intend to take up this matter with the Israeli authorities. We also discussed the cooperation between UNIFIL, the government and non-state actors. This cooperation has been good in the past and we intend to continue it that way. We also discussed the question of Lebanese prisoners in Israel which we have already raised with the Israeli government and I will pursue it when I'm there myself. Thank you very much.
Press conference following meeting with Lebanese House Speaker, Nabih Berri, Beirut, 19 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I have just come from the South where I went to visit the UN troops and got a preview from the [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] UNIFIL, their forces, and I have had a very good discussion with speaker Berri, where we went about the issue of the situation in the South, the violations, and the economic development of the region. I informed the speaker that we take these violations very seriously, and I have asked UNIFIL to investigate each violation and report it to New York. I think that the Israelis have withdrawn and they should stay out; once you've withdrawn, you don't come back. And any transgression of the blue line, it's a violation that we take very seriously.
I will be going to Israel from here and this is an issue I want to discuss with Prime Minister Barak. I was also able to share with the Speaker our plan for economic development in the south, where the UNDP and the World Bank will be working with the government to develop the south. We will also be organizing an international pledging conference, where we would invite donors to come to Beirut and pledge money for the reconstruction of the south. We haven't fixed a date [yet] but we will do that very shortly.
I think some of you were at the press conference I gave this morning, so you know my discussions with the President and the Prime Minister. I think what was important is that the Speaker and I discussed the UN and the Lebanese people have been trying to get Israel to withdraw from that territory for 22 years and we've been at this together. Now at the end we have obtained this achievement. We need to make sure that the violations are cleared out and that we can continue with the real issue of economic and social development of the region.
Q: Are you optimistic about the issue of the Israeli violations in the South after your discussions with the Lebanese officials?
SG: Yes, I don't see why not, and I think that the international community as a whole will take a very serious view of any violations.
Q: What do you think about the President's Statement that was issued this afternoon?
SG: I haven't seen it yet, I just came back from Naqoura by helicopter.
Opening statement upon arrival in Beirut, 19 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: I am very happy to be back in Lebanon - a country where I have spent much time since UNIFIL was established in 1978.
I am looking forward to holding productive talks with President Lahoud, Prime Minister El-Hoss, Speaker of Parliament Berri, and other Lebanese leaders.
I am aware of the reservations felt by both sides in the lead up to the President Statement on Lebanon adopted unanimously by the Security Council last night our time. I believe that they are largely based on misunderstandings.
Let me therefore start by making a number of things clear:
- The United Nations has not been delineating or demarcating the border between Lebanon and Israel - or between Lebanon and Syria for that matter. Borer demarcation is something that can only be done between States. - But it was necessary for the UN to mark a withdrawal line on the ground - the so-called "blue line". Otherwise, how could we know whether or not the Israelis had withdrawn?
- The Security Council has reaffirmed, most recently in last night's Presidential Statement that the United Nations has sole responsibility for identifying the withdrawal line, and the parties have confirmed that they will respect it. I realise that both sides have their problems with the withdrawal line we have drawn. But - as I have already made clear - the line is not a border. It does not prejudge eventual adjustments to Lebanon's international borders in future negotiations. United Nations actions now in drawing up a withdrawal line have in now way foreclosed that option.
- There is a second misunderstanding about withdrawal. The Security Council has endorsed my conclusion that as of 16 June Israel has withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425. That was my responsibility and I have carried it out in a neutral and impartial manner.
- The question of subsequent violations is another matter, on which the Council has expressed its serious concern and called on the parties to respect the line identified by the United Nations. If the Lebanese Government believes that there has been a violation of the withdrawal line, they should immediately report the matter to the United Nations. UNIFIL will investigate and, if the complaint turns out to be justified, it will be for the Security Council to consider what action to take. I am confident that the Council would be ready to take firm action if that was justified.
Our task now is to help to restore peace and stability in southern Lebanon and to assist the Lebanese Government to return their effective authority and presence in the south. For this, it is essential that all parties continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with UNIFIL, and to exercise maximum restraint. Without this, our task would be impossible. With it, there is a great deal we can achieve. I know that I can count on the full cooperation of the Lebanese authorities.
Press Conference following meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Cairo, 19 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: As you can see my good friend the Minister has abandoned me to face you alone. Let me say that I had a very good discussion with President Mubarak this morning. We talked, of course, about the Lebanese situation, the withdrawal of the Israeli troops from southern Lebanon, the Middle East peace process, about Eritrea - Ethiopia, about other UN related issues. And I was able also to thank him for his support for his advice throughout the said process when we started talking to the Israelis and the Lebanese about the withdrawal from Lebanon. I think a lot has happened the last few days . I trust you have lots of questions for me so I don't want to make a long statement I will take your questions.
SG: I think when you have this sort of situation and a withdrawal line has been drawn and the line that has been drawn in the case where the Israelis troops should be, if they do cross the line it is a violation, that the peacekeepers will have to report to the Security Council and to myself. And we will try to get the Israelis to pull back. In fact this morning I spoke to the Israeli Prime Minister about the need for everybody to respect the line and we do not want to see any violations.
SG: I think, let me put it this way, if you don't think the Lebanese complaints are real, ceasefire and verification of ceasefire is the responsibility of the UN troops and the troops on the ground. If any of the parties believe that there has been a violation they should bring it to the attention of the troops who will then verify it. Yesterday the UN troops where on the ground and they are on the ground patrolling and verifying. And if either Syria, I am sorry, if either Lebanon or Israel believe that there is a violation it will be checked.
SG: First of all, I would expect all parties, both parties to respect the line and not to violate the line.
SG: I do not have specific points I will talk about violations, that … as far as specific points are concerned, we did have specific points when we were drawing the line, and did require Israel to withdraw from it, whether it was in the Golan heights or other areas, Israel had to pull back from certain points which are now in Lebanese hands. But once the line has been drawn they have to respect it, and there should be no violations.
SG: I hope, the best for the parties have signed an agreement and I hope they will respect the agreement they have signed and that the fighting will stop. The UN is expected to put in troops, as we don't have troops, we have to turn to our member states. And hopefully they would offer us the troops as quickly as possible. We would want to be on the ground as soon as we can and then we would also do the border demarcation which the two parties have asked us to do and have indicated they would respect the line we draw.
Q: What about the UN role in the Palestinian track and the stagnation that had happened to the peace process?
SG: We are supporting the peace efforts, and I have in fact Mr. Larsen is my personal envoy for the peace process and until I moved him to Lebanon to supervise the Israeli withdrawal he was based in the region in Gaza, working with the Palestinian Authorities and Israel and following the process very very closely. So, we will continue to do that but, of course, the United States is in the lead, we are not in the lead but we do support the efforts to bring about lasting peace in Palestine and eventually in Syria. So, our involvement is not limited to only implementation of 425. I hope we will move on to work with the parties in implementation of 242 and 338. We are interested in just and comprehensive peace in the region.
Q: The same question in The Syrian track, what they can do to facilitate the resumption of talks between Israel and Syria?
SG: That is an interesting question, because again on the Syrian track the US has tried very hard to bring the parties together. I am in touch with the Americans on this effort and from here I am going to, not only Lebanon, but I will , I am also going to Damascus and hope to meet the leadership in Damascus. But the bases for settlement is a UN resolution 242 and 338 and so the UN is involved, we were there at the beginning, and we will do whatever we can to ensure a peace in the region. In my own good offices will be available if it would be helpful as it now stands we are supporting the efforts. You are right, it is a bit stalled but I hope it is not going to be stalled for ever particularly when one considers the differences between the parties is not very wide. And that with good will and determination they could make peace. And I hope that all of us in the region who talk about peace would also use the kind of language that will encourage and prepare the public for a peace, if it were to come. And the worse and tense we see can't help or impede the progress on the peace process. Thank you very much.
Press Conference at the Foreign Ministry with Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amre Moussa, Cairo, 18 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
FM Moussa: I am very happy to welcome the Secretary-General of the United Nations here in the Foreign Ministry and in Egypt. We had very fruitful discussions on many issues of major concern for all of us -- the peace process, Lebanon, the sanctions against Iraq, the general international situation, the UN, rationalization, the Security Council expansion. It is indeed as usual a very fruitful meeting. And we appreciate very much the role played by the Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a Son of Africa, but a very able Secretary-General indeed. That is why I express our respect and support for the Secretary-General. And tomorrow the President Hosni Mubarak will receive Mr. Kofi Annan in the early morning to discuss the issues concerning the peace process in particular and Lebanon. We do not intend to have a long press conference because of other engagements. Therefore, please address all your questions to the Secretary-General.
Q: Mr. Annan do you still think that the Israelis have completed their withdrawal from South Lebanon, in spite they are saying, the Lebanese saying, that there is still eleven Israeli positions inside the Lebanese territories?
SG: I gave my certification to the Security Council a few days ago Lebanon has indicated that there are areas where they believe there are encroachments. The UN troops on the ground are verifying it with them. But let me say here that verification of violations is a responsibility of UNIFIL, the UN troops, that is their job. I think once the line has been certified, any encroachment by Israel either into Lebanese air space, maritime -- the Lebanese waters -- or land, will have to be reported as a violation. I understand there is a team down on the ground with the Lebanese associates checking out on these violations, but let me repeat verification of violations is the responsibility of the United Nations and UN troops, not of the parties. And if any of the parties were to notice violations they should report to the UN forces that will verify. If we get into a situation where we hand over the verification and violation to either parties we are head into a very dangerous grounds. I think we have done very good work with the good cooperation from the Lebanese authorities and the Israeli Government. We are at the tail end of our work and I think sometimes these sort of problems do crop up but I hope this is an issue that will not hold up the progress unduly. The Security Council is meeting in New York and I hope we will see some developments soon.
Q: Nihal Saad from Nile TV International. Mr. Secretary-General when would the UNIFIL deploy and also would it be able to cover all the areas in question?
SG: The plan was that UNIFIL should deploy to the Israeli border the moment I certify. And obviously we will need to do this with the cooperation of the Lebanese authorities. There is also a request that the Lebanese Government itself begin to assert its authority over Lebanese territory by deploying some of its own troops to the south. There has been some movement. I think about 500 to a 1,000 have already been deployed. And some of other countries that are going to contribute troops are insisting that Lebanon should also deploy because their role is to help Lebanon assume its full authority over its territory but not replace the Lebanese Government. And so I would hope that we will be able to deploy in consultation with the Lebanese authorities and in coordination with the deployment of Lebanese forces as well. For the moment, we have a little over 4,500 troops on the ground and we will deploy to the extent possible within our capabilities. But the plans are that we will double the force and go up to about 9,000.
Q: Raghida Dergham from Al Hayat: Mr. Minister there are some serious charges coming out from Lebanon against the United Nations saying that they rushed to say that the withdrawal has been completed whereas the Israelis have not in fact as these charges are claiming pulled out from border spots. Now, you have spoken to the Prime Minister of Lebanon Al Hoss in the last couples of hours; you have met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. How explosive is the situation and I would like your response, Sir, to the charges against the United Nations.
SG: Charges is too strong a word, but go ahead.
FM Moussa: Well, yes indeed I talked with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Lebanon Dr. Al Hoss prior to my meeting with the Secretary-General in order to understand fully the position taken by Lebanon. Of course we take the Lebanese position very seriously as we took the decision of Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in implementation, in full implementation of resolution 425. Resolution 425 stipulates that Israel should withdraw to the borders, international borders, which is very important and should take place. When the Secretary-General meets with the President of Lebanon, the Prime Minster and other high officials, I believe things will be further clarified and perhaps the charges you have referred to, will be discussed between the Secretary-General and the officials of Lebanon - let us wait to see what kind of outcome we hope and we trust that it will be a very positive outcome after that visit.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General…
SG: I have nothing to add to what the Minister has said.
Q:. Don't you think, Sir, that it would have been better to wait until both Lebanon and Israel or at least Lebanon in our concern agrees that there has been full Israeli pullout before issuing your verification or the kind of statement? The second question did you discuss with Egypt the possibility of deploying Egyptian troops?
SG: Only one.
SG: I think I opened this statement, my first comment was that verification of withdrawal and certification of withdrawal is the task of UN forces on the ground and my decisions are based on reports they made and they have that responsibility.
Q: How do you think this dispute can be resolved? Or the next steps?
SG: I don't think it is a, I would not describe it as a dispute. I hope it's only a hiccup that would be resolved very shortly.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Ms. Fahmy with Reuters: You announced, you declared on Friday that Israeli troops are fully withdrawn from Lebanon. Yet we have UN teams still on the ground verifying the withdrawal. I was wondering if there is any, if these two things contradict, or if there is a contrast or…?
SG: The UN team is not verifying a withdrawal, they are there checking on complaints the Lebanese authorities have made. There is a difference. And I would also say that once the certification has been made, any encroachment or violation that will have to be reported. And as we move forward, when violations occur either on land, in Lebanese waters or in the air - the UN troops will report it. It is also possible that either party may go and report a presumed violation to the UN troops who will have to check it out.
Q: Mr. Annan, everyday we hear reports about the suffering of Iraqi people, mainly the children, because of the sanctions imposed after the Gulf War. Is there any hope for ending this suffering in the near future? Thank you.
SG: This is one of the issues that the Foreign Minister discussed with me and rightly pointed out the public perception in this region and the growing perception around the world that the sanctions are harming the Iraqi population. And I myself have had a chance to say to the Security Council that I was getting worried about the impact of the sanctions on the Iraqi population and that it places the UN in a moral dilemma. Because normally the UN is always on the side of the poor and the vulnerable and we have always thought to relieve their suffering. But in the case of Iraq, we have been blamed partially for the suffering of the whole population. But of course, the Council has passed resolutions which Iraq must comply with to have the sanctions lifted and to see light at the end of the tunnel. I would hope that we will find some way of getting the Iraqis to cooperate with the United Nations implementation of resolution 1284, so that in not the too distant future Iraq would join the society of nations as a full member where sanctions are suspended or lifted so that the population can have a decent and normal life and that Iraq can get its economy back together.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, please, but the Iraqi Minister of Trade has said that we have completed whatever the UN Security Council has stipulated and has asked here in Egypt for the UN to lift the sanctions. What's your comment over that?
SG: I think the decision or the judgement as to whether Iraq has complied with the Security Council resolutions or not is a judgement that is up to the Security Council. I know the Iraqi position, that they have done all what they were asked to do and that they have disarmed and there is nothing more to do. But with all due respect that judgement belongs to the Security Council.
FM Moussa: Two more questions!
SG: We did touch on this and of course. As I said, that's part of the equation that by cooperating with the Security Council the resolution 1284 also implies allowing the inspectors to go back into Iraq to continue their work. Of course there are two aspects of the resolution. The humanitarian aspect, which has brought some improvements and lifted the ceiling on oil sales in Iraq and sell as much as it wants. And in fact even though the original ceiling was 5.2, on this past 6 month period Iraq has sold about 8.2 billion dollars. And of course there has been improvement in the processing of purchases of medicines and food and in my discussions with the leaders in the region and beyond, I have urged them to work with me in encouraging Iraq also to cooperate with implementation of Security Council resolutions. We are all sensitive to the issue of the population, but there is also the need to comply with the other side.
FM Moussa: Your question to be the last one.
Q: (translated from Arabic) Mr. Annan you have proposed a humanitarian intervention programme in light of the protection of minorities. Where are the Islamic minorities from this programme? And don't you think that this right is in favour of great powers over the rights of the people of the 3rd world nations.
SG: I did not propose a programme of humanitarian intervention. I raised lots of questions about humanitarian intervention. Under the UN Charter we can use force in the interests, in common interest, in defense of our common interest. What is that the common interest? Who defines when use of force is necessary? Under what authority? When do you intervene and when you do not? We also have an organization that obviously has member states, and the respect for sovereignty is firmly enshrined in our charter. But this same charter enjoins us to protect succeeding generations from the scourge of war and violence. These days we have situations where sometimes the respect for sovereignty and the respect of the individual and global massive violations of human rights are involved. When the two are in conflict, the respect for the individual dignity and his safety and the sovereignty of the state, which takes precedence and who decides? These are questions I'm asking, and I hope the debate will continue for a while. And that General Assembly and the Council will come back and have some answers, not necessarily guidelines, but at least some ideas as to when we move and when we do not and what should be the basis for a consensus.
Q: Mr. Annan: the deployment of Egyptian peacekeeping troops in South Lebanon?
FM Moussa: No, we have not discussed that.
Q: Is this proposed?
FM Moussa: It has not been proposed.
Q: Sir, do we have a reaction to the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea?
SG: Well in fact we did discuss it with the Minister and the need to try and implement the agreement very quickly. And the UN is being asked to send in peacekeeping forces on the border area and also demarcate the border. And on this issue, both parties have agreed to respect the demarcation that the UN would undertake. And I hope we will get the troops and the member states will be willing and prepared to give us the resources we need to undertake that task. Of course the Council will have to take a decision. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.
Press encounter upon arrival at Cairo airport, Sunday, 18 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: What do you suspect matters will be in the Middle East after President Assad's death?
SG: I think it's a bit difficult to say what will happen because Syria is going through a transition and sorting out the leadership. I think we would need some time to tell. But I hope that the efforts to make peace in the region will continue and I expect the new Syrian leadership to become engaged in the process in time, particularly given what has happened in southern Lebanon.
Q: From your point of view, why did Lebanon deny the UN decision of the full withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon?
SG: Well, they felt that there were areas that needed to be checked, or there was some encroachment. Right now, as we speak, there's a UN team and a Lebanese team checking the points where they seem to have some problems. I am confident that this issue will be resolved because first of all let me say that both parties have accepted that the certification of the line, or the determination of the line, is my responsibility. And UNIFIL has worked with me and done that. Both parties have agreed that they would accept the line that the UN draws, even though they have some problems with it. Once the line has been drawn, and once I have certified full Israeli withdrawal, if we see any Israeli soldiers or military materiel in the Lebanese territory it is a violation and we will have to report it to the Council. They will take whatever appropriate action they deem fit. But I think the question of the verification, in my judgement, is done. We are now on the ground with the Lebanese and I think this is an issue which will be resolved in the next few hours.
Q: What is going on between Israel and the Palestinians? Could it result in a situation as in Lebanon, particularly after the failure of Barak to form a coalition government?
SG: You know that the US Government, particularly President Clinton and Mrs. Albright, are working with the Israelis and Palestinians on that track. I am following it very, very closely. So I hesitate to go into too much detail about it or to make definitive statements because I really don't have all the details. Thank you.
Press encounter after meeting with FM Kamal Kharrazi, Teheran, 18 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Will you please elaborate on your short visit to Teheran and on the outcome of your meeting that you've just had with the Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Kharrazi?
SG: Well, we've had a very, very useful discussion on a range of issues regarding the UN's role in the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon and the fact that he believes that this is a victory for Lebanon and for the region.
And we have also been able to discuss Afghanistan and our efforts jointly to bring peace and the cooperation that exists between Iran and the United Nations through the Six Plus Two process. We talked about the drug problem, the question of drought and what the international community should do, and generally about UN-Iranian cooperation.
But more importantly, we talked about the developments in Lebanon, the total withdrawal of Israeli troops from the region and how important this is for peace, eventually, in the region.
And, of course, we will continue our efforts to seek a comprehensive peace in the region - not just the implementation of 425, but also 242 and 338 and the whole concept of land for peace.
Q: Was the issue of Syria after the death of Hafez al-Assad among your discussions?
SG: Yes, we did talk about the transition in Syria and the new political situation. But obviously, one has to wait for the new administration to take over to determine or to know which direction they will go.
But of course, we do support the efforts to stabilize the situation and it looks as if Dr. Bashar will be the next leader.
Press briefing aboard plane from London to Rabat, 17 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: The reason that I am going to the region is that when Israel indicated to me that they were ready to withdraw, when I met with Foreign Minister Levy in Geneva, I immediately tried to get hold of the leaders in the region to work with me once I got a letter from Israel.
And you'll recall that I told the Israelis that I would not do anything until I got it in writing. Eventually, the letter came. I have been working with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Jordan, and of course, with Israel and Lebanon, because I thought they were countries with influence, or important countries in the region that could work with me to ensure that this withdrawal will be successful and that we can maintain peace and calm in the region once they have withdrawn.
And I think throughout the period, they have been very supportive.
You would recall the meeting in Palmiere, when Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria supported the process, and I think that was also an important step. And I have also been in touch with Iranian authorities throughout. and when Mr. Kharrazi went to south Lebanon, he was the first Foreign Minister to go there. And I called him and he briefed me on his visit and we have stayed in touch. Now that the withdrawal has taken place, I would want to maintain that support for us to make it a success.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 14 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Your report yesterday on Congo. You suggested there were logistical deficiencies and other problems. Would you detail those deficiencies for us?
SG: The UN doesn't have an army. We can only deploy troops if governments make them available to us. And we have asked for a whole range of logistical support services--four battalions, and we have not got all the units that we need. You cannot deploy an army without the necessary support services. Logistics is the glue that keeps an army together. If you don't have that, it's extremely tricky. So, we are working with the governments, trying to get the necessary resources, but we are not in a position to deploy. And besides, as I indicated, the cease-fire has not held, and there have been some difficulties with the movement of our people.
Q: So what would be your priorities this week with the talks here at the UN--what's your number one priority in getting through to the members who are taking part in the talks?
SG: I think the first priority is for those who signed the Lusaka agreement to live up to it, to honour the agreement, to respect the cease-fire, and for President Kabila to work with the other Congolese parties on the political dialogue and cooperate with the facilitator, President Masire. Because without the co-operation of the parties, without the parties respecting their own agreement, there is not much one can do.
Q: You said that the UN doesn't have an army. Ambassador Holbrooke has suggested a different model for the peacekeeping operation which would include peacekeepers with more military background and a leader with more military background. What are your thoughts on that?
SG: I read Ambassador Holbrooke's piece, and I've been taking to him and other Council members, and I agree with what he said. In a recent retreat with the Security Council members we did cover quite a lot of ground of what needs to be done to strengthen and improve peacekeeping operations. So I agree with everything Ambassador Holbrooke said.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I represent the Catholic wire service. I am told you are accepting an award which Archbishop Martino is giving you this evening, and I wonder if you could say anything about how you see the role of the Holy See and the religious community at large at the UN.
SG: I think the UN and the Church--I once had the occasion to tell his Holy Father the Pope that we are in the same business, but we use different methods. Theirs is through prayers and education and social morality and ours is through negotiations and diplomacy. But, in the end, we both try to improve the conditions of people and understand the human condition.
Q: Do you think the Holy See has an unfair advantage in the religious community because of its special status here?
SG: I wouldn't say that it has a special advantage in the religious community. It does have an observer status, but the others--even those who do not have observer status--are free to come and go. Indeed, later this year--the end of August--there will be a meeting of religious leaders here in this building, and all the religions will be represented here. Thank you very much.
Exchange between the Secretary-General and the press upon arriving at headquarters, Friday, 9 June 2000
Q: Can you tell us what is the state-of-play regarding the confirmation of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon?
SG: We are continuing our work on the ground. As we have indicated, as far as the line is concerned, we have indicated a practical line for withdrawal. That work is complete. What we are now trying to do is to verify on the ground, work with the parties to indicate where the line is and soon be able to verify Israeli withdrawal. I expect to be able to do that very shortly.
Q: Any idea when, Sir, today, tomorrow, Monday…?
SG: It is a bit difficult. It depends on the cooperation I get from the parties on the ground. And if they work effectively with us and continuously, we should be able to do it within the next 24, maximum, 48 hours. But it depends on the cooperation we get from the parties.
Q: Sir, just one more question. On the Women's Conference, some women's groups have criticized the review process saying that it is almost Beijing minus five and not Beijing plus five. Could you comment on whether or not we will be having a strong outcome statement?
SG: I am quite hopeful that we will have a strong outcome statement. I was worried like all of them at the beginning. And as you will recall yesterday I issued a statement urging them to maintain, at least, the Beijing language and not roll it back. But it is quite likely that, not only will they maintain the Beijing language, but there will be advances in further areas. And if that happens I will be a very pleased man and I think the women will be extremely happy too. Thank you.
Exchange between the Secretary-General and the press upon arriving at Headquarters, Wednesday, 7 June 2000
Q: Is there anything we should know about - - Lebanon, Iraq....?
SG: Well, as you know on Lebanon, I suspect that we are close to certifying and the work is ongoing on the ground. On Iraq, we have the report before the Council, which they will discuss in the course of the week or so. I hope that they would approve it. This mainly is a humanitarian aspect and of course in the course of the month they would also want to discuss the Iraqi missing and property. We will see where we go from there.
Q: A really dangerous part of the world is the South Pacific it seems....
SG: It's incredible what is happening there. You have almost a copy-cat syndrome - it started in Fiji and then you have it in the Solomon Islands. But I think these people who would want to take over by force ought to understand that we live in a different world - a world where many countries around the world, in all regions, are becoming democratic and that the world and the international community is not going to welcome coup-makers into their midst that easily. And they are setting themselves and their nations up for ostracism and great international pressure. They should really think this through because the risks are not worth it for their people and in time they will realize it is not worth it for them either.
Q: That is the Fijian and Solomon islands, both?
SG: All coup-makers.
Secretary-General's Comments to Radio France International (RFI), Monday, 5 June, 2000
Q: I work for Radio France International. Just a word on education, is it the absolute challenge that you see lies ahead. I know you spoke about it this morning in your speech.
SG: We launched a new initiative in Dakar earlier this year in April titled Educate Girls Now because we believe that education makes a difference. You educate a woman and you educate the family and you also strengthen the nation. And I think, as you heard me this morning, with education girls and women are in a better position, not only to look after themselves, to plan their lives better, but also make a major contribution to society. And without that education development suffers, the whole society suffers. And there's no doubt that any society that does not bring into the center, and full participation, women, is a loser. And we need to do something about that. Thank you.
Exchange between the Secretary-General and CNN upon leaving UNHQ, Friday, 2 June 2000
Q: Why this retreat, is this a new trend in diplomacy, these retreats?
SG: No, this is not the first time we've done it. We've done it several times, and I think the Council Members and all of us found it very useful, and we've decided to make it a yearly event - for us to withdraw, get away from the city, and quietly reflect on the challenges that we face in the area of peace and security. And I think these days we have a lot to think about and to talk about. It's messy out there; the world is a real messy place. So that's what we are going to do this weekend.
Secretary-General's appearance in CNN'S one-hour news programme entitled "Global Forum", Atlanta, Georgia, 1 June 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Khan: Hello and welcome to Global Forum 2000 coming to you twenty years to the day after CNN's launch. We have with us some of the World Report contributors who have gathered at CNN Centre this week. We are also delighted to be joined by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Mr. Secretary-General, over the next hour we will be taking a look at some of the issues that the United Nations is trying to deal with, broker peace, alleviate poverty, and mete out punishment. First, let's examine one of the UN's most difficult and controversial tasks - peacekeeping. International intervention - putting troops in harm's way. For more on that we to turn to a CNN original, Richard Roth, our senior UN correspondent and the host of Diplomatic Licence. Over to you Richard…
Roth: Thank you Riz. When CNN began twenty years ago today, the Secretary-General of the United Nations was Kurt Waldheim. It was a different era. It was a time of a cold war, which meant stalemate at the UN. Now, a new century. The major powers get along better, but the UN is confronted by new, more complex forms of global conflicts. Most wars are internal now, not between states. The dilemma is how to protect defenceless civilians from leaders and rebels thirsty for power. The current Secretary-General feels the UN has the right to intervene when human rights are threatened.
[…it was an international clarion call for a new century to the 54th General Assembly of the United Nations.]
[SG: Massive and systematic violations of human rights, wherever they may take place, should not be allowed to stand]
[But critics say good intentions are no match for geopolitical reality.]
[film clips and interviews, including one with Secretary-General asking "do you want us to be a punching bag in the middle, everybody taking potshots at us, and everybody would then blame the UN for everything that we are not responsible for"]
He doesn't want to be a punchbag…with us the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. He is taking members of the UN Security Council on a retreat this weekend…Sir, are you going to tell them that peacekeeping has to change, that all operations should be peace enforcement? There's a big mission planned for Congo. What is the impact of what happened in Sierra Leone now, in your thinking?
SG: No, I wouldn't say peacekeeping is dead, but basically I think we will look at what has happened in Sierra Leone, as we are on the verge of mounting another operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and doubling our forces in southern Lebanon. Basically we will discuss how peacekeepers should be equipped, prepared for these operations, and I believe they will need to go in with heavier equipment, not necessarily to do battle, but sometimes you need to show force in order not to use it. You have to have a credible presence, so that they don't even dare to challenge you.
Khan: Richard Roth is our senior man at the UN - we are going to get back to you a little later. As much as I love to ask questions I am going to give this over to the floor, to give our contributors to World Report and our international journalists a chance to ask some questions of the UN Secretary-General here…
Q: I would like to ask a question…your next mission is going to be the Israeli-Lebanese border - 8,000 soldiers - are they going to die on the border? Are you going to send them. What will you do if one of the sides starts shooting?
SG: We are not sending them to go and die on the border. We have worked out a very detailed agreement with all the governments concerned. As you know, my Special Representative is in the area as we speak. We have indicated for each of the governments the requirements we expect them to fulfill. The idea of maintaining law and order in southern Lebanon is the responsibility of the Lebanese authorities. We at the United Nations are sending in troops to assist the government in doing that. I think the mandate we have in Resolution 425 resolution is very clear. First, to certify full withdrawal of the Israeli army in compliance with Resolution 425. My men are on the ground as we speak, on the border, and I hope I will be able to certify full withdrawal within the next few days. We then have to work with the Lebanese authorities in establishing sovereignty over its entire territory, and they would also of course be responsible for law and order there. So were are there to assist the government in establishing its authority and we will withdraw once that authority has been established and the border is calm. I think this is the limited objective that we have and I hope your prediction that we may be shot at doesn't come through.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, one of the key players in an enhanced peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon will undoubtedly be France. Now the French have indicated recently that they are not willing to commit troops unless the Lebanese deployed in the South. Do you think that their unwillingness to do so will threaten this enhanced force that you have in mind.
SG: Obviously, for any peacekeeping operation you do need the troops, but I think the problem is a bit more complex in the sense that the French government and other troop contributing countries who have been on the ground - the UN has been on the ground for 22 years in southern Lebanon - all the time attempting to implement Resolution 425, that is the withdrawal of the Israeli troops. Today the Israelis have indicated that they are going to withdraw and we are working with them on the withdrawal. Once that is done, Lebanon is supposed to assert its national authority over southern Lebanon, and ensure law and order there. So the role of the international peacekeepers will be to help them. This is why the troop contributing countries are saying, 'if we are coming down to help Lebanon, we would want to see Lebanon begin to assume its responsibility, and assert its sovereignty over southern Lebanon'. But if they are not going to do it it poses a problem. It is not the peacekeepers role to keep law and order and enforce national laws. That is the responsibility of the Lebanese government. This is why I have appealed to them to deploy their forces as soon as I certify so that I can increase the UN forces from 4,500 to 8,000. We are still talking to all sides and I don't think the issue is settled yet, but I am hopeful we will find a way out.
Q: Sir, let me ask you, with the situation you have seen in Sierra Leone, we had our critic in the report, Richard [inaudible] saying that UN peacekeepers make good hostages, basically. What danger is there, or precedences being set, that you are creating this environment?
SG: I am not sure if we are creating this environment. I mean, we have faced this situation in Somalia, and we saw it in Bosnia. Sierra Leone is not the first. When you get into these operations there is no doubt that there will be risks. I recall talking to General Shalikashvili when the US troops withdrew from Somalia. I said 'General, it's a decision of a sovereign government to decide when to participate in a peacekeeping operation and when to withdraw. But the way you have withdrawn the US troops immediately after the killings, the impression has been created that the easiest way to disrupt a peacekeeping operation is to kill a few peacekeepers'. And then of course we had the Bosnian experience as well. And now we have Sierra Leone. I would hope the message that has come out of Sierra Leone is a very strong one. In Somalia we withdrew when we got into difficulties. In Sierra Leone, on the other hand, the member states are sending in additional troops - India, Jordan, Bangladesh, the West African countries - they have shown resolve. The British troops went in there, in effect telling the rebels 'you are not going to intimidate us - we have a job to do and we are going to get it done'. And I hope this will dissuade those who think they can intimidate peacekeepers and everybody withdraws. And I disagree entirely with the earlier speaker who said 'peacekeepers make good hostages'. I think it is rather disrespectful of these courageous men and women who go around the world helping us all keep peace.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General Sir, historically the UN has been seen as a talk shop. We now see where they are putting some power behind the talk. Alas though, the cost of this power - from whence does come, what kind of impact is it having on your budget? We have always heard that you have a difficulty with the budget. How are you sustaining these peacekeeping missions over time?
SG: Let me first say that the UN peacekeeping does get lots of publicity, but most of our acts not in the peacekeeping area. In fact, about 80 per cent of our work is in the area of economic and social, humanitarian and a whole range of issues, and the area of law and international law. But let me turn specifically to your question. We fund these operations through contributions by member states. We have a scale of assessment where each member state agrees to pay a certain percentage. I must say though that the member states do not always pay, and we borrow these troops from governments on condition that we will reimburse them at the rate of $1000 per soldier per a month. For most armies it does not cover their cost, but they make the sacrifice. So we have got to a situation today where we owe troop contributing countries hundreds of millions of dollars, and we can only pay them if the member states give us what they owe us. This is one of the difficulties that we have. At the same time, you cannot allow these conflicts to continue unabated. So the [Security] Council takes decisions and we try to go in and do whatever we can.
Q: You have important Senators in the United States holding up money as current as Sierra Leone - it doesn't make you job any easier…
SG: That is correct. Senator Gregg had put a hold on Kosovo, East Timor, Congo and Sierra Leone operations. I think he has lifted the one on Kosovo, but of course I don't know what will happen when the proposal for Lebanon goes ahead as well. Are we going to hold on all these operations which are quite crucial?
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, my question is, human rights are being violated in Kashmir. Kashmir is on the pending agenda of the United Nations for the last 50 years. India is neither recognizing the United Nations resolution nor is it prepared for mediation. What role can the UN play in this regard?
SG: First of all, let me say that yes, there are UN resolutions and there are also UN observers on the ground. But I think you heard President Carter earlier - in these kinds of situation the two parties have to come together and find a way of resolving their differences. They either do it directly, or through mediation. And if it is through mediation, both parties have to accept a mediator or the mediation. In a situation where one party refuses to accept mediation there is not much any third party, the United Nations or anybody else, can do. We will continue to encourage the parties to defuse the situation and find a way of resolving their differences. If the time comes that the parties are ready for mediation and the UN is able to play a role we will, but you cannot interject forcibly into a conflict where the two parties do not agree on you. Having said that, I recognize that the situation is dangerous, and I think it is not only the UN, other governments are working very hard to try and diffuse this situation. In fact I had the chance of talking to your President in Havana last month on this issue, and we will continue to do whatever we can to find a peaceful solution.
Q: Especially when both countries are nuclear powers, and Kashmir is a flash point, the global situation demands that the UN should take special interest…
SG: Thank you, we do take special interest.
Q: On Cyprus, the third round of proximity talks will be held in Geneva next month under your auspices. Could you tell us what is your expectation? What kind of progress do you expect? Are you happy with the pace of the talks so far?
SG: I think it is difficult to anticipate what progress we will make when we meet in Geneva for the Cyprus talks. Let me say that we have been organizing proximity talks so far, and I suspect we are getting to the stage where we have to step up the pace and the level of the talks. I am not implying here that we are going to get face to face talks in Geneva next month, but I hope we would be able to get into substance, and discuss some of the key issues, or begin to discuss some of the key issues and move on. We do have some way to go yet. The issue is a very complex one, and I don't think it lends itself to a quick, easy and speedy solution. Roth: CNN - 20 years old - UN peacekeepers have been in Cyprus decades longer… [commercial break] [film clip on UN's role as peacemaker; provider of humanitarian aid - Eritrea/Ethiopia]
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, one of the biggest genocides in human history was in Rwanda, in the Great Lakes region of Africa. As you know very well, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and now even Angola and Sudan are at war with each other. These countries are fighting each other and they have a low esteem of the United Nations peacekeepers. They believe that the UN peacekeepers are ill-equipped and achieve nothing when they come for intervention. How best can the United Nations help seize the flames in the Great Lakes region of Africa, without necessarily sending the peacekeepers that are disregarded in our region? Thank you very much.
SG: Let me say that when it comes to a question of peace and war, the greater part of the responsibility falls on the leaders and the peoples in the region. I don't think we in Africa, and as an African I can say this, can keep fighting each other and then stand up and ask 'where is the UN? Where is the international community?' We all woke up and said the international community did not come to Rwanda. Now the fighting is continuing and you have indicated that they believe the UN is ineffective and therefore we shouldn't perhaps send in troops who cannot do much, but then, what is the solution? In my mind, the primary responsibility for peace and for attainment of peace lies with the leaders and the peoples of the region, and this is why I have appealed to them time and time again to really put their differences aside and it is time for Africa to accept that we can solve our differences through political means and not through military means. In our own traditional cultures, in the villages, people talk and talk and talk, and resolve issues. This tendency for some politicians who want to have power at all costs and pick up guns to intimidate their unarmed population and civilians is no longer acceptable. The UN is the only organization if you wish that is trying to do something about this. These are enormous challenges, and nobody expects that when we go into these situations that they would be risk free. I think we need to be careful not to blame the UN and those who are trying to assist, those who are trying to foster peace, for the killing that is going on. If we do that, we are absolving those who are actually responsible. We should put equal pressure on the leaders, the greedy leaders who continue with this sort of fighting. I would appeal to all my fellow Africans and African leaders that the people on the continent want peace. They have suffered for too long. They want to get on with their lives and we should find a way of bringing peace to that continent. It is no longer acceptable that Africa should be seen as a continent in crisis and we should all work to bring peace. I can assure them that the international community would be prepared to work with them in establishing peace and moving on to the essential task of economic and social development. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I would like to take this opportunity to ask you about the problem of Abkhazia in western Georgia. From 1993 when this territory was lost for Georgia, 300,000 internally displaced persons are waiting for their opportunity to go back home. What future steps should be taken by the government Georgia in cooperation with the United Nations to solve this problem?
SG: As you are aware, we have peacekeeping observers there, working side by side with CIS troops, most of them from the Russian Federation. My Special Representative on the ground has been working with President Shevardnadze and the Russian and a Group of Friends to try and bring about peace and allow for the return of refugees. We will continue that work and in fact, when I was in Moscow earlier this year to see President Putin this was one of the issues we discussed with him and the Foreign Minister. I hope that our efforts will bear fruit. Here again we need to get everybody to cooperate. We need the mindset to change and we need the people to think in terms of peace. I know President Shevardnadze is ready for it in our discussions - but it takes two to tango.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the UN mission failed to implement peace in Angola. The war continues to produce victims. What do you see in the immediate future for the Angolan people?
SG: Here again is another situation where the UN went in to work with the parties to help establish peace. Elections were held, and [Jonas] Savimbi of UNITA decided not to accept the results and went back to war. This is the difficult part of peacekeeping. You go in with an agreement signed by both parties and they swear they will cooperate with you, that they will work with you, and then one of them turns against you. Well, we had to withdraw our troops, but we do have an office there and we are working with other governments to try and see how we can eventually bring peace to the land. As you know there is hardly any contact between the government and the outside world with UNITA. That makes it a bit difficult to push for peace. But there are initiatives amongst governments that I hope in the next few months will show results.
Roth: Mr. Secretary-General, you have been hinting in recent speeches that it may be time for the UN traditional role of neutrality to end? You have said that the world cannot use peacekeepers as fig leaves behind a lack of political will. This seems to be happening around the world. Is it time for the UN to take sides?
SG: I have indicated quite clearly that we need to send in peacekeepers who are well trained and well equipped and prepared for all eventualities, because it is quite clear that if they get on the ground, and if they get into difficulties there is no help on the horizon. You notice in Sierra Leone I called for a rapid reaction force. Those governments with the capacity did not respond, except Britain, which went there with a limited objective, but in a way it played that role. So the peacekeepers have to go in prepared to defend themselves and their mandate, and as I said, be so credible that they won't even be challenged. [commercial break and film clip on effects of sanctions on Iraq]
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, as we just saw, embargoes and sanctions don't bring about change, but yet we see sanctions and embargoes being imposed on countries like Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. Do you not see that it does more harm to the citizens of these repressive and dictatorship regimes?
SG: Let me say that there is quite a lot of discussion going on about sanctions, including in the Security Council. I myself have indicated that we need to find some way of breaking the sanctions cycle. By sanctions cycle I mean the incredible paradox which sometimes emerges where sanctions are imposed, and the impact or the effect is to strengthen those in power while the average population, who are not the intended targets of the sanctions, do suffer. This happens where sanctions have gone on for a long time. In fact, the current discussions indicate that we should find a better way of applying sanctions and that perhaps sanctions should be targeted more directly at leaders whose behaviour we want to change, like freezing bank accounts, not allowing them to travel, and a whole set of actions that can be taken directly against them, their families, and the elite, to ensure that the population does not suffer. There has also bee a tendency recently for the [Security] Council to set a time limit, for example the last one which was adopted by the Council which you had in the film clip on Eritrea and Ethiopia, is limited to one year. I think this kind of discussion is healthy. On the Iraqi situation in particular, you should remember that when we started the oil for food scheme it was 2 billion dollars a year programme. I went to the Council with proposals asking them to fund the refurbishment of sanitation, electricity, hospitals, and we increased the ceiling from two billion dollars to 5.2 billion. I am not implying this is by any means enough, but the Council in its latest resolution has also tried to improve the situation further. I think no one can concede that the population in Iraq have suffered as a result of the sanctions. It poses, as I have said in the Security Council, a serious moral dilemma for the United Nations, a United Nations that has always been on the side of the poor and the weak, and has always sought to alleviate their suffering. I would hope that in the not too distant future we may find some creative ways out.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, there seems to be some sort of contradiction from the beginning of this discussion, from peacekeeping and helping the weak and poor, and with the continuing sanctions on Iraq which have only affected the poor and the weak.. I was just wondering until when do you think that this situation will continue, and do you think there is a wide perception in the world that the Security Council is being quite adversely affected by the U.S., which is ironically the only country that hasn't paid its full dues yet. How do you feel about that Sir?
SG: Well, let me say that, obviously the Council is a master of its own procedures and its own decisions. Until the Council takes a different position the sanctions will remain. But of course the Council will insist that if Iraq were to comply the sanctions would be lifted. I have conceded that there has been a negative impact of the sanctions on the civilian population and I think the Iraqi issue is very much on the agenda of the Council, and I don't think they are deaf to the noises and debate and discussions going on around the world.
Q: Sir, there are some concerns about the effectiveness and promptness of the United Nations in terms of peacekeeping. Do you think that the United Nations is as effective as it is supposed to be?
SG: Let me perhaps start with a comment. When we talk of the United Nations - what are we talking about? What is the United Nations? The United Nations is your government and mine. The United Nations is you and me. The United Nations can be as effective and as strong as the governments want it to be. And when it comes to peacekeeping the United Nations can be there on time, well-equipped and ready to act, if those member states with capacity and help take the decisions would also participate in these operations. This was demonstrated by the British when they were able to get to Sierra Leone within 24-48 hours to help the peacekeepers on the ground. We saw this in East Timor when the Australians took the lead in putting in forces on the ground. We have seen this in other areas, in the Balkans. Where the will is not there and the resources are not available, the UN peacekeepers will arrive late. It takes us on the average 4-5 months to put troops on the ground because we have no troops. The UN doesn't have an army. We borrow from our governments. So we can put on the ground the troops the governments offer. And as fast as they come, and not always with the equipment that they promised. If those with the capacity were to cooperate, the UN can do the job, we would arrive on time, not late.
Roth: Mr. Secretary-General, some would say the biggest threat perhaps to the world, if not peacekeeping issues, but nuclear war. The big powers have promised that they would get rid of their nuclear weapons, at the recent non-proliferation treaty review conference. But they didn't give a time line. Is that satisfactory to you? What can the UN do for the new century regarding nuclear weapons?
SG: I think it's the best we have heard so far. In the sense that in the past we couldn't even get that statement out of them. This is the first time nuclear states have indicated categorically that they will work for nuclear disarmament and elimination. They hadn't done that before. It was always qualified. So this is an important step forward. In fact, if they do move ahead and begin to eliminate these weapons, it would be the best dissuasive argument for countries that would want to become nuclear powers. The message then would be 'what is the point of spending millions and millions of dollars on weapons that you would have to dismantle?' In the past Pakistan and India had argued 'how can the nuclear powers expect everybody else to sit back, allow them to keep their weapons, without trying to develop weapons of their own'. I hope that with the lead that they have taken, if they actually put it in practice, it will be the best dissuasive argument, and you know that in my Millennium Report, I have suggested a global conference to discuss nuclear dangers. Quite a lot of member states are for the idea but some of the nuclear powers are not very comfortable over that proposal.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, as we come to the closing minutes of the programme, I have to ask you, do you have any further closing statements for us here at the Conference?
SG: Riz, let me say that I have enjoyed this session very, very much. We have spent quite a bit of time discussing crisis in Africa, and of course African does have many problem, poverty and AIDS, which we are trying to confront. In my Millennium Report I say a lot about that, because the AIDS epidemic is taking away Africa's professional class - teachers, doctors, and many children have been orphaned. Women and children have had to leave school to look after sick ones. On my trips around the world, not only in Africa, I encourage world leaders to speak up on this issue. Because if we do not break the conspiracy of silence surrounding the AIDS epidemic in some countries, we are really heading for catastrophe. Because silence is death when it comes to AIDS.
On the issue of where we go from here - I have raised the question in an earlier General Assembly debate of the place of the individual in our world of today. I think human rights has today been accepted as universal. And I have argued that we should find a way of placing the human being at the centre of everything we do and try to shift our emphasis on state protection to the protection of the individual within the state. That is why I have raised many questions that where sovereignty and the individual's rights come into conflict - what do we do? Where there is gross and systematic violation of human rights, we have argued that no nation should be allowed to use sovereignty as a shield. But if we have to intervene in these gross violations, how do we do it, where do we do it, under whose authority? These are some of the big questions of our time. This is why I am looking forward very much to the Millennium Summit in New York in September, where we hope to have the largest gathering of heads of states and governments ever assembled. They will come to discuss the United Nations of the 21st Century. I hope they will come in the same spirit that their forefathers sat in San Francisco and created the United Nations. They gave us an incredible machine. It's a wonderful institution, and it is up to us to make it what it ought to be, and what it can be. And I hope the leaders will see it the same way and give us our marching orders when they come in September. Thank you.
Remarks of the Secretary-General to the press upon arrival to UNHQ, 26 May 2000
Q: You were hopeful the other day that the hostages in Sierra Leone might all be freed by the time the heads of government met in Abuja this weekend. Have you had any news? Are you still optimistic?
SG: I shared with you my conversation with President Taylor, who told me that he was working very hard to get each and every one of them released today before he goes to the Abuja Summit tomorrow. So we have a call in to each other this morning. I will be trying to find out where things stand and how things are going.
Q: Is there anything new on Lebanon, Sir?
SG: I think things are going quite well. The situation is very calm on the border. I have spoken to the leaders in the region. I have been in constant touch with Prime Minister Barak and President Lahoud, and they are cooperating well with my people. [Terje Roed] Larsen has had his first talks with the Lebanese authorities and that has gone extremely, extremely well. The Lebanese have started deploying police, administrators and investigators to the South. We are now hoping that once we have certified that Israel has completely withdrawn they would also begin sending in some army elements and then of course I am working with the Member States to send in reinforcements for UNIFIL. Our troops are now patrolling the region and they have moved quite close to the border. They are moving and working with the population.
Q: When do you think you will get certification, Sir? And what troops will you be bringing in?
SG: I expect to have the certification in the next few days. We have already begun our work in verifying that they have indeed withdrawn. So that should be coming very shortly. As far as the troops are concerned I hope they will begin to go in once the certification is done and in the next few weeks we should have several thousands in.
Q: From France, Italy?
SG: France is a key, a prime target. And Italy too.
Q&A at the John Quincy Adams Society luncheon, Washington, D.C., 25 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: (Paraphrase) What are your plans for increasing peace-keeping forces in Lebanon?
SG: As you know I put a plan before the Security Council on the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon. I would commend that report to you because it is very detailed and very clear as to what we expect from each of the parties. I am extremely pleased with the cooperation we got from the parties, Prime Minister Barak and the Israeli government have cooperated fully. What we have requested from each of the parties is a set of conditions they have to fulfil for us to work with them to pacify the region. With the Israeli government we did agree with them that they will withdraw to the international borders as defined in 1923 and modified by the Armistice agreement and further modified by mutual agreements between the parties, and that when we talk of withdrawal from Lebanese territory, we mean terrestrial, maritime and airspace, and that they should also dismantle the SLA and free all prisoners. And this was going to be done in a very orderly manner, but of course given what happened in southern Lebanon and the collapse of the first two battalions of the SLA, Israel decided to accelerate the withdrawal. But the work we've done with them is still relevant and they will withdraw to the border we have defined and I have defined with my team. And we will verify the withdrawal and I will make an announcement confirming that Israel has withdrawn to the international border.
For the Lebanese government, we demand that they begin to assume their authority throughout the country; that they should immediately deploy police, gendarmerie, administrators and eventually some of their troops to the south; they should respect the rights of those who lived in the SLA area in the south; there should be no revenge, they should apply the approach they applied when Gezid (sp)? was liberated by Lebanon and that the Red Cross would help. And I must say so far on the ground it is very quiet. The first day of withdrawal there was some excitement, when lots of people went in and some people got killed and since I've been working very closely with the two leaders, with President Lahoud and Prime Minister Hoss and also with Prime Minister Barak, I could go back to them and say assure the population; if they have waited 22 years, 72 hours, 48 hours will not make a difference, otherwise more people will get killed, and we will work with you to return the territory to the Lebanese control. But once those Lebanese forces have been deployed and Lebanon begins to assume authority, we will deploy additional forces to the south, almost double the force of 4,500 we have there now, and work with the Lebanese government in assuring its own authority over the territory, calm the area and then we will withdraw the UN forces in time, our work will have been done. But I have also written to the leaders in the region: Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran asking them to cooperate with me for all of us to ensure that we can keep the situation calm and I'm quite hopeful that this will be done; and I will be talking to all the leaders who are to send in troops this afternoon, we've been in touch, and we are trying to accelerate the process and I would also hope that my certification that Israel has completely withdrawn from Lebanon will come in the next few days.
Q: (Paraphrase) What is your view about the proposed rapid reaction force?
SG: Yes, this rapid reaction capacity for the UN is an idea that has been around and lots of people have supported. Sir Brian Urquhart did a very interesting article, a report on this, and suggested that the UN should be given this rapid reaction capacity. The Member States have not been very supportive of it, raising issues of legality, budget and location of such a force, but I think if the will is there, one can find answers to these difficulties. And I recall when I commented on the think piece done by Brian Urquhart, I said in fact not only that would help us nip things in the bud and deploy very quickly, because when the problem breaks, the rapidity of deployment, the ability to get there on the ground is absolutely crucial. In fact some of you know what happened in Sierra Leone: when the troop peace-keepers got into trouble, and I asked for a rapid reaction force, there wasn't much response but the British troops went in within 24 hours and did exactly what I was asking the rapid reaction force to do. It helps stabilize the situation. Now we are reinforcing, consolidating and stabilizing so that we can continue with our work. Since we don't have an army of our own and without the capacity that governments place at our disposal, I said it's like asking the Mayor of Washington DC, we know you need a fire department but we will build one for you when the fire breaks out, because that's the way we begin, we begin pulling the army together when we are given an assignment and it takes 5-6 months sometimes.
Q: (Paraphrase) I would suggest that you bring together nations to have a frank dialogue on the issue of nuclear safety. And I would ask you to use your voice to halt proliferation. This is what causes threats from India and Pakistan, North Korea to become dangerous forces.
SG: I agree with everything you've said and I think at the NPT meeting earlier this month which ended on Saturday, we made a bit of progress because the nuclear powers for the first time declared that they are prepared to work for elimination of nuclear weapons, without qualification, and this is the first time that it has happened, and that is important. It is important because it sends out a powerful message. Countries like India and Pakistan argued that how can the nuclear five, the nuclear powers, behave as if they are in an exclusive club. They can hold on to their nuclear weapons, but no one else is allowed to develop nuclear weapons. And I kept telling the nuclear powers that if you took the lead on nuclear disarmament and began destroying these weapons, send now the message that it doesn't help to become a nuclear power, you are going to spend all this money and then you are going to dismantle it, so don't go that route - your question on proliferation - don't do it. We are dismantling and I think the message coming out is very, very strong and if we keep at it, I think we will see fewer Indias and Pakistans that would want to join the club.
On the question of bringing nations together, in my report for the Millennium Summit, I have recommended that we should have a conference to discuss nuclear dangers and proliferation. By and large the response has been positive from many Member States, but I think that some of the nuclear powers are hesitant and we all need to try and convince them that we go ahead and discuss it frankly across the board. In several situations a much smaller group of countries may come together to discuss this, but the idea of a frank and open discussion of these dangers and proliferation is an important one. Of course we shouldn't forget the small arms. Next year we have a conference on the proliferation of small arms. When we look around [it's] these small arms that are doing all the killing in our cities and these wars, and we also want to break that but I appreciate your comments and efforts.
Q: What is your relationship with Rev. Leon Sullivan and the relationship with Global Compact?
SG: We are working with Rev. Sullivan. He has in fact launched some of his initiatives at the UN and I was there to listen to him and to encourage him. We complement each other. But we see the Global Compact as something that builds on conventions and values which governments have accepted and signed on, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO core labour standards, the environmental issues, that we all got together in Rio [de Janeiro], and accepted. And basically we are telling the companies and the world that we cannot operate in isolation, that you are part of this society, you have lots of influence, you have lots of reach, and by setting the examples you can help influence society, particularly on the environmental level - and I talk a lot about this in my Millennium report - we are destroying and exploiting the world in a manner that is not sustainable. And if we keep doing this we are going to do a lot of damage to the world. In the last ten decades we have never seen this level of natural disasters that we have seen from floods, mudslides and all this. These natural disasters have caused well over a hundred billion dollars [worth] of damage, so we hope the corporations and the public and governments will work with us in enforcing some of these things. And Sullivan and I worked on this. In July as I said we will have a meeting where it's not just the CEOs who are coming, it's the labour unions that are coming too, and the heads of some of the UN agencies for us to sit together and map out an approach on this and I thank you for your support for the Global Compact.
Press encounter following the John Quincy Adams Luncheon, Washington D.C., 25 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Secretary-General, Fiji seems to be on the verge of abandoning non-racial democracy. How concerned are you?
SG: I am so concerned that I sent a mission in. I sent Under-Secretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello, who went there with Don McKinnon. Yesterday, they met the President. They saw the Prime Minister and they also spoke to [George] Speight and indicated to him that the international community and the UN will not accept a military takeover in Fiji. We are living in an era [in which] this sort of behavior is not going to be tolerated and we tried to [dissuade it from developing]. They obviously haven't succeeded and I am expecting a detailed report from Mr. Sergio de Mello sometime this morning.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General on Ethiopia/Eritrea - the war seems to be coming to an end. What role if any can the UN play in this process?
SG: I've been on the phone several times this morning with the President of Algeria, who is in the area and has visited both Eritrea and Ethiopia and has put a proposal to them that could lead also to the end of the conflict and return to the negotiating table. I support all his efforts and I will also be talking to the leaders in the region and the Council which has passed statements earlier and which is constantly seized of the matter and I hope will act again when Mr. Bouteflika's report is out.
Q: And what is in that report can you tell us?
SG: I think I would much rather he puts it out. He is the one at the center of it, he is negotiating it and I should not preempt him nor say something that might have to be modified in his constant exchanges with the leaders at the last minute.
Q: Can you tell me what the real effect is that the hold Senator Judd Gregg has on the US money to go towards peace-keeping missions in Sierra Leone and others really has on the missions?
SG: Let me say that is not helpful in the sense that to mount these operations we need resources. We need men, women and financial and material support and already the UN is not in good financial shape. We owe [for] peacekeepers [to] countries who have sent troops to keep peace hundreds of millions of dollars already. And this latest attempt to hold funds for these operations is only going to make matters worse. And we are now on the verge of several major operations, and I think he has put hold on the operations in Sierra Leone, Congo, East Timor and Kosovo. I'm on the verge of announcing another major operation in Lebanon, where the Israeli troops have withdrawn and I'm in touch with the leaders and we have come out with a plan for implementation. Will that also be withheld? Will Lebanon join the list of the four peacekeeping operations that are on hold? These are very dangerous forces and we need all the help we can get and not only do we need the help we can get but we need to act promptly and I hope that these holds will be removed. I urge other leaders in the Congress and on the Hill to work with us in getting the money.
Q: How do you respond to his criticism particularly on the mission in Sierra Leone that it is based on a peace deal that was kind of wrong from the start? How do you respond to those frustrations that he has?
SG: I would be interested to hear a concrete suggestion from him as to what the alternative is. It is one thing to say, you shouldn't be doing this, but I hope they can put forth a viable alternative. I mean, anyone who has followed that process realizes that the peace agreement may not be ideal, but the protagonists and the leaders and the people in the region signed it. The UN entered the reservation when amnesty, blanket amnesty, was given indicating that as far as we were concerned the amnesty cannot apply to crimes against humanity and we are trying to work with the people in the region to bring peace and to calm the situation and we need all the help we can [get]. If the Senator has a better idea or a better approach about how to do it, we don't claim any monopoly of brilliant ideas. We will listen.
Q: Do you plan on meeting with the Senator while you are here to discuss this?
SG: I'm here for a rather specific and very brief moment and I won't be meeting him but....
Q: Do you have plans in the near future to meet with him to discuss this?
SG: I don't have any plans. I know the administration and others are talking to him and I hope he would heed the appeals that have been made to him.
Q: Sir...follow up on Fiji. Specifically what would be the consequences if the coup is to succeed and what can the UN do?
SG: I think I will have to leave that judgement to the Security Council. I will be submitting a report to them based on my Envoy's report and I would expect the Council will take some action but I cannot tell you what that would be.
Q: What would you say the earliest date for implementing a peacekeeping force in south Lebanon?
SG: We are trying to accelerate the process very quickly. As you know, we were planning for the Israeli withdrawal in early July, but given what happened in southern Lebanon 3-4 days ago, Israel had to accelerate the withdrawal. I'm in touch with troop contributing countries and we are trying to get the forces in soon after I have confirmed that Israeli withdrawal is full and complete. And I hope to make that judgement within the next few days.
Q: So the force could be there within weeks?
SG: Well. I would want it to be there within weeks. In the meantime we have asked the Lebanese government to deploy police and gendarmerie which they began doing ..send in local administrators and deploy some of the Lebanese army, their own troops to go down there to work with us. Don't forget that as we speak we have 4,500 UN troops in and I am going to bring it up to 8,000 and so within weeks I would expect to see them there. Thank you very much.
Secretary-General's press encounter upon arrival to UNHQ, 24 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: On Sierra Leone, there are some developments. Charles Taylor is saying today that Foday Sankoh needs to be involved in any negotiations for the release of the detainees. What is your response to that? He's just saying that he won't go away, that he has to be instrumental in the release. And also, on the reports that peacekeepers have been slain, seen in pictures there.
SG: Let me say that I did speak to President Taylor myself on the release of the remaining detainees, and we are all working hard, and, of course, he expects to be able to see some more of the detainees released before the end of the week. There's going to be a meeting in Abuja--West African heads of state--on Saturday. And of course, I would hope that, by the time they meet, most of the peacekeepers will be in freedom. On the question of the bodies that were seen, I have not gotten a detailed analysis as to whether they are really some of our peacekeepers and what they are, so I would prefer not to comment on that at this stage.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, following the Israeli pullout from Southern Lebanon, is this going to change your recommendations to the Security Council, and what do you see as the next steps?
SG: I think the recommendations to the Council stand on their own, and in fact, the work that we did with the parties prior to the pullout, is going to be very useful, and is still useful for what is happening in the region. For example, the Israeli withdrawal will be to the line that we have indicated, so that in itself will be useful. We are going to work with the Lebanese Government in assuring their own control over the territory and maintain peace in that part of the region. Of course, the law and order functions belong to the Government of Lebanon, not to us. So it is quite possible that we will still put in additional peacekeepers to calm the situation for awhile, once we have the assurances that I've asked for from all the parties. And then, of course, once the situation is settled and Lebanon has assumed its full territorial responsibility, the peacekeepers will withdraw, our work would have been done.
Q: Could you respond to Prime Minister Barak's letter to you yesterday? Have you been able to respond to that yet?
SG: I have not responded, and I don't think it requires a response.
Q: Will you speed up your plans for the deployment?
SG: I'm in touch with the troop contributors about deploying. We will first have to certify the withdrawal to the international border, or the line as determined by us, and then work with the member states to get the reinforcements in.
Q: Do you have a time frame?
SG: I'm not in a position to give you a timeframe now, but we're trying to move as quickly as we can. And yesterday we met with the troop contributors to stress the urgency.
Q: Your envoy in Fiji--we hadn't asked you--how are things going with Sergio Vieira de Mello?
SG: Well, they've had a chance to meet the Prime Minister and the hostages, and have also spoken to Mr. [George] Speight. And told him that what he's trying to do will not be accepted by the international community. And that they should, first of all, release the hostages as soon as possible, and work with the others to return to constitutional rule. He is working with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon. The two of them went together.
Q: Were you encouraged by the troop contributors' response yesterday?
SG: I wasn't disappointed--or discouraged.
Secretary-General's press encounter upon arrival to UNHQ, 23 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: I have a question for you on Lebanon. Events are unfolding still. Are you concerned about the position UNIFIL will find itself in if it's forced to become the buffer between the warring sides right now, to fill in the vacuum?
SG: Let me say that the situation on the ground today is very calm. I have just spoken to our Force Commander on the ground. The Israeli withdrawal continues and the UN troops using the force mobile reserve, were able to move to the new area that the Israelis have withdrawn from and things are quiet. The civilians and masses have not moved in there. I am also grateful to the President and Prime Minister of Lebanon whom I also spoke to and asked that they work with us to manage this in an orderly manner. We are coordinating our efforts with both the Israeli and Lebanese authorities and I hope that the withdrawal can continue in an orderly manner.
Q: What about the confirmation, are you in a position to do it faster now, are you taking steps to confirm it…?
SG: We will do the confirmation after the withdrawal has been complete and then we will go to the border to check if indeed the withdrawal has continued beyond the border.
Q: So, UNIFIL will do that, can you please elaborate? UNIFIL people will tell you whether it is about time to confirm or not?
SG: Because UNIFIL is on the ground, is monitoring the situation and is in touch with both parties. They have good generals coordinating their efforts with our Force Commander and our people are on the ground and they will be able to tell.
Q: From what you feel now, is it going to be days or longer, your assessment now?
SG: Well, I would hesitate to say that because this is a military operation. It can go very quickly, it can get bogged down and so I prefer not to give a date, but it is moving very fast.
Q: Is it possible the Israelis didn't give you enough notice that this withdrawal was going to happen so fast and this was going to create some extra problems?
SG: I don't think the Israeli plan, as we knew it, which called for the withdrawal by the 7th of July, had to be advanced because of what happened yesterday. And I think it was the events of yesterday that has led to the acceleration of the withdrawal. I think if that had not happened, my sense is that it would have taken some weeks before the withdrawal actually were completed.
Q: What if you don't have the cooperation from Hizbollah…what if these forces are in strict danger regarding the pullout?
SG: We are demanding cooperation from State and non-State actors, including the Hizbollah. As I have said, we demand cooperation from all. What is happening on the ground today is encouraging and I would expect that to continue. Thank you.
Secretary-General's comments to the press outside the Security Council, 22 May 2000, pm (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I see now the Council has been discussing the situation in southern Lebanon - their discussions with continue tonight at 10.00pm. My report, which was just issued today, is in their hands and you have also seen the statement I issued myself on the situation - and as you have been informed, I have been holding some high level consultations with leaders in the region and beyond and, in my discussions with Prime Minister Barak, he has reaffirmed Israel's determination or decision to withdraw his forces in full compliance with resolution 425 and in my report I indicate what is expected of each of the parties. I think for the first time in 22 years we have come very close - we are very close to the full implementation of Security Council resolution 425 which will lead to orderly withdrawal of Israeli forces and return of Lebanese authority in the area and we have indicated that by Israeli withdrawal, we mean terrestrial, marine and air space and it is unfortunate that we have had the disturbances we have had now and I appeal to all parties to work with us in managing an orderly withdrawal, so that there will be no more casualties in the region. The people in the region have suffered enough - there have been too many deaths and it is now today that we are that close to organize an orderly and managed withdrawal that we should have further violence.
Q: Will the United Nations go into the areas where the Israelis are pulling out as long as there is fighting going on between the two sides? I guess that you are not going to immediately go in there with …
SG: I think that my report makes it quite clear what the United Nations will do and what our posture is. Obviously right now the situation is volatile and dangerous, but we will verify and certify full Israeli withdrawal and work with the Lebanese Government to restore its authority in the region.
Q: Did the Prime Minister of Israel indicate exactly the timing - as things are going so very fast now - did he give you an idea as to when he thinks a full withdrawal with an SLA component - and do you plan to respond to the invitation by both Lebanon and Israel that [that you go to] the region as soon as possible?
SG: I am not in a position to discuss specific timing for withdrawal. Obviously we have the outside date that they will be gone by the 7th of July. But given what is happening on the ground, the withdrawal could be accelerated, but I am not in a position to give you a specific date and time. With regards to my own visit to the region, let me say that Mr. Larsen will leave for the region tomorrow to continue his efforts and commit the parties to cooperate with us in implementing the plan. I have always been ready to intervene and go wherever I believe my presence will be helpful and I do not exclude the possibility at an appropriate time I will go to the region but I have not fixed a date.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, it seems that events on the ground have moved faster than the UN expected it. Do you expect the Security Council to adopt your report "as is" or is there a need for further action by the Security Council which will obviously take longer?
SG: I think that the report, in my judgement, is very clear and precise and we did it that way deliberately because we are dealing with a very complex issue and we didn't want any room for ambiguity. I think that it is a good and a clear report and I hope the Council will endorse it.
Q: Why are you hinting at withdrawal as a possible option if things don't go …. Can you specify that statement?
SG: You want us to be a punching bag in the middle with everybody taking pot shots at us and everybody will then blame the UN for everything that we are not responsible for? And also I would hope basically the reason why the withdrawal came is that we can only perform our work if the parties cooperate with us, if the parties honour their engagement. The UN has always been successful where the parties cooperate with us. Where they fail to cooperate and to work with us, we are not very likely to succeed - and so we will continue to do our work if the situation permits, if we have the cooperation - which quite frankly I think we should. Because what we are trying to do is in the interest of everyone - it is a positive step for peace efforts in the region and I think, as we have indicated, we are interested in just and comprehensive peace in the area in accordance with all the UN resolutions - 425, 426, 242 and 338 - and in accordance with land for peace. So really I would expect everybody in the region to work for this peace and I would hope once Israel has withdrawn, that that border would become as peaceful as the border between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan. Thank-you very much.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 22 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: The South Lebanon army, apparently, is splitting in two and their lines have been cut, and this obviously is going to have some implications for the UN force there. Can you tell us whether this is going to have any effect on planning for what's going to happen?
SG: The Israeli government plans to withdraw its forces sometime this summer. As you know, I have been in touch with the leaders of the region, and my Special Envoy [Terje Roed] Larsen has been talking to the leaders on the ground. And today, I shall issue a report for southern Lebanon, detailing how we intend to implement Resolution 425 and 426. I have heard the reports of what's happening on the ground; but obviously, I am waiting for the detailed report from my men to be able to analyse it. But I do hope that what is happening will not unduly affect the plans that I shall be putting forward today.
Q: What's the latest on Sierra Leone and return of the UN peacekeepers?
SG: We had 54 released yesterday -- 54 additional peacekeepers. We expect more to be released in the course of this week, and we are determined to bring all the detainees to safety.
Q: Should Foday Sankoh play any role in this government or be charged as a war criminal -- both sides of the coin there. Which do you favour?
SG: I think the longer-term fate of Foday Sankoh is being discussed seriously now. But as I mentioned the other day when we spoke, that I believe by his behaviour, he has excluded himself from the process. And I don't see how one can consider him part of any peace process in Sierra Leone.
Q: I just want to follow-up on this. There's a report that in your upcoming report on Sierra Leone, you are calling for intensified sanctions. Can you confirm that that's true, particularly on diamond smuggling?
SG: Shall we wait for the report?
Q: I don't know, it's already out on the radio -- it's some place.
Q: Should there be more sanctions?
SG: Obviously, I think as both of you are implying that [diamonds] are one of the key means of funding the war for the RUF, and one will have to make sure that the diamond industry is properly managed, properly organized, and exploited for the benefit of the government and the people of Sierra Leone, not by a rebel movement that uses the resources for war. And I think we've learned this lesson in Angola where the UN set up a commission led by Canadian Ambassador Robert Fowler. We are doing another one in Congo -- Democratic Republic -- to find out who is exploiting the resources in the country, and I think we'll be looking at the situation in Sierra Leone very, very critically to see what we can do to bring the diamond industry under governmental control.
Q: How is the UN hurt by one US Senator's hold on peacekeeping money? Is it really holding it up, compared to other US failures to pay peacekeeping bills?
SG: It is not very helpful. Not only is it not helpful, I think it can be disruptive to our efforts. The holds are against four peacekeeping operations and today I will be making a proposal to the Council that may introduce another operation on southern Lebanon. And of course, if all these holds continue, it is going to hamper our activities and our ability to have the resources required to carry on our mandated functions. So I hope that the other members of the Senate would work with the Senator concerned to remove their holds.
Press encounter upon arrival to UNHQ, 16 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how was your visit to Harlem [address to students of St. Charles Boromeo School]?
SG: It was very stimulating to see these young people beginning to learn, coming into life, and going through their lessons. They put on a dance and they sang. The song was very interesting to see that, already at this age, they are being given important lessons about life. They talked about dreaming-- we do a lot of that here--that one must dream and that one should get an education, and that they can be anything they want to be. And if you fail, try a little harder. I thought I had gone to give them a message, but they sang a beautiful song that gave me myself a message. It was a happy school, and I've always maintained that a good school is a happy one. So, I was very happy to begin my day with these young, stimulating people. Thank you.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 15 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q. Good morning, Sir. I wonder if you can give us your impressions of the overnight news on the release of UN peacekeepers, what are the implications, what do you think the trend lines are?
SG: As you can imagine, I'm relieved that 157 of the detainees have been released. We are working hard on getting all the others to freedom. This morning and yesterday I've been on the phone a lot. I spoke to Adeniji, and I spoke to [Major-] General Jetley, this morning. As you can imagine, the morale is good, and the men are encouraged by this. He's carrying on with a strategy of getting the soldiers released, consolidating, stabilising the force. We will continue our reinforcement, and move ahead with the peace process. Jetley and his men are in good spirits, and I think they believe that things are improving every day. I had the chance to encourage him and thank him for his leadership and for the work he and the men have done in very difficult situations.
Q: Do you think that Foday Sankoh has a place in this government? I think many people say, "How can you still include him?" but others say he's still the main conduit to the rebels, and he's still the man who must be there.
SG: I'm not sure if he has not excluded himself from the process by his actions.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the war in Ethiopia seems to be going full speed despite your plea for an immediate cease-fire, and the Security Council's. Do you think the time has now come to impose sanctions, particularly an arms embargo?
SG: Obviously the Council is going to meet today on the situation in Eritrea and Ethiopia--the war between them--and I would not want to pre-judge it. But you know my own views. That it's unfortunate that this war had to break out. The differences between the two countries are relatively small and I think with a bit of patience and effort and will, it could have been resolved peacefully. I hope they heed the call of the Security Council. I know that the fighting is going on, but I would urge the two leaders and the people in Eritrea and Ethiopia to really, for the sake of their people, for the sake of the region, heed the call for peace.
Q: Does the US charge too much to get peacekeepers to a crisis in an emergency? This has been going on for several days here. I know you were quoted in the Times, putting yourself on the record. What's your sense of…?
SG: We did get some offers for airlifts. Some countries gave it to us free of charge. But with the US we often are offered what is considered the best MOD prices. We have been in negotiations with them over these prices.
Q: Did Guinean soldiers, you believe, sell their APC's to the rebels?
SG: I don't know. These are questions that have been posed. I really do not know the facts. We've looked into it. I don't have the facts.
Q: Senator Kerry is here. Is there some movement on Cambodia?
SG: Well I think he's coming to discuss--you know, he's been in Cambodia recently. He had the chance to talk to Prime Minister Hun Sen and other leaders in Cambodia. He is one of those who have supported strongly a credible trial for the Khmer Rouge perpetrators. I will be discussing with him today how we can move the process forward and bring it to closure. I think his own insight and discussions in Cambodia will be helpful to my office.
Q: Should the diamond stronghold be taken by British forces--peacekeepers--now, while there may be an opportunity, out of Foday Sankoh's hands?
SG: I think what is important is that all the territory in Sierra Leone be brought under governmental control and administration, and the exploitation of the diamonds and the diamond industry organised in the proper professional and well-managed manner. This obviously is going to take time, but the objective would be to bring all that under governmental control. You cannot have a state where a group of rebels arrogate themselves the right to exploit the riches of the country, either for themselves or for a war. So the ultimate goal would be yes, to take that back, bring it under governmental control.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 12 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Despite the best efforts of the recent Security Council mission, the war has resumed today between Ethiopia and Eritrea. I was wondering whether there's anything that you can do or that you believe the United Nations--the Security Council--can do at this point?
SG: First of all, let me say that there has been tension along the border for some time. Efforts were in course to try and bring peace between the two. The President of the OAU, President Bouteflika of Algeria, has had a series of meetings with the parties with the assistance of the U.S. Government and others, trying to bring peace to Eritrea and Ethiopia. They were on the verge of discussing what we call "technical agreements--consolidated technical agreements." There were some differences, and the Security Council had hoped to be able to bring the two parties together to sign the technical agreement so that the framework and the modalities agreement would be implemented. The Security Council's efforts have failed, and I had hoped that efforts would be made to get them back to the table. Of course, it's going to be a very brutal war--thousands have died in that war already--and the Council is meeting on the issue later on today.
Q: On Sierra Leone, could I just ask you the latest that you know in terms of the situation on the ground with the peacekeepers, and also, your diplomatic efforts that you've been making. And Mr. Miyet, what, if any, recommendations you're prepared to make as a result of your meeting with him.
SG: I think the situation seems relatively calmer today, and we are continuing our efforts to stabilise the situation and consolidate our forces. Additional forces are arriving, which should be in the next couple of weeks from Jordan, India and Bangladesh. We are coordinating our efforts also with the British troops at the port. I'm quite hopeful that we will be able to stabilise the situation and then move forward with our mandate. We are still trying to get to release our detainees, which I hope will be possible soon, and Miyet, yes, is back. He came back a bit tired yesterday. I had a preliminary discussion with him, and I'm expecting a full report from him today and over the weekend. Then we'll make further judgements as to what needs to be done once I've studied his detailed report.
Q: One final thing--in your interview with Le Monde, which we all read about, you were very open and frank about your feelings on how the reaction of the members of the Council was in this case. Could you explain a little bit further on that, and how you personally felt about the way everyone here handled that situation?
SG: I think all that I said was that there is a sense among the African members of the Organisation that, when it comes to operations on that continent, we tend to do it on the cheap, because they were making comparisons with the size of force that went into Kosovo and East Timor. But of course there are regional factors which also come into play here. But I must admit, the frustration on their part was evident in the Council last night.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, just one other quick question on Ethiopia/Eritrea. Have you spoken to either of the leaders? Do you plan to, and are you planning to take any kind of an active part?
SG: I've spoken to both of them, and I am in touch with them.
Press encounter upon arrival to UNHQ, 11 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: What is the latest you have heard regarding troop deployment from other countries, or rebels moving and the UN digging in?
SG: On the question of the troop deployments, we are continuing our efforts to deploy additional Jordanian, Indian and Bangladeshi battalions. We are beginning to get real offers for airlifts and we are in discussion with several governments about using their assets to ferry the troops in?
Q: Can I ask you about another subject? AIDS, the joint Agreement or tentative Agreement, tell us your views on this?
SG: I think it is a very positive development. There has been a controversy for some time as to whether or not African countries are going through this epidemic and who have the capacity to produce locally, some of these drugs - generic versions at a much cheaper cost - will be allowed to do that. So I think the executive order is an important step in the fight against AIDS. It will help with treatment and I think we are working on two fronts - prevention and treatment. And I am very pleased that President Clinton took that decision. On my own recent trip in the region I appealed to all the leaders I met to join in the fight against AIDS, stressing the fact that the conspiracy of silence surrounding the disease has to be broken, because silence is death. So, I am very pleased with the President's decision.
Q: There is a report that you might appoint a mediator in the dispute in Zimbabwe over the land question. Is that correct and have you appointed anyone?
SG: No, that is inaccurate. It is inaccurate in the sense that there is no intention of appointing any mediator. Obviously I have been in touch with the Governments concerned, and Governments in the region trying to see what we can do to help find a solution and reduce tensions and those efforts are continuing.
Q: Your envoy is back from the Middle East. I think you are receiving Israeli officials today or tomorrow - Mr. Levy. Where do things stand on this issue and where is the obstacle if there is one?
SG: Well, I will get a full brief from Mr. Larsen who arrives in New York today. I should say that his contacts have been quite successful. He had very good meetings in Israel, in Lebanon, in Damascus and also in Jordan and Egypt. He will give me a full report today and tomorrow I will meet with the Foreign Minister of Israel, Foreign Minister Levy, who is coming to see me to discuss this issue.
Q: Do these offers on airlifts give you more confidence that the option of withdrawal of this UN mission in Sierra Leone has diminished?
SG: I don't think there was ever a question of withdrawal. I think we have a mandate and we are determined to carry it out. I think we should also look at the broader implications. If the international community were to fail the Sierra Leoneans and were to fail in Sierra Leone the impact on broader efforts by the international community on the African continent will be very serious, and not only there but in other areas. I think given some of the lessons we have learned, we should try and see this one through.
Q: On AIDS, are you worried about how the drugs are now going to be used there? Your wife even said, in a lot of these developing countries there is a resistance in acknowledging the disease - the virus. Is that going to be a problem..?
SG: I think UN AIDS [programme] has been working with quite a lot of these governments to deal with the disease to face it and tackle it, but let's not kid ourselves, drugs alone will not do it. One will have to combine that with improving the health systems, with improving delivery capabilities and follow up on patients. So there is a whole range of activities which will need to be brought on board. But the fact that the drugs will be available is a positive and really strong indication to the patients that they are not being abandoned.
Q: Follow up on the Lebanon question. You are obviously in touch with the leaders in the region and as Mr. Levy is coming here, who else are you in touch with, do you think it is necessary that others are here so that you can finish up what ever you have to in this week …?
SG: I am in touch with several leaders within the region and beyond it and it has also been my expectation that a senior Lebanese team will be able to visit but that is not certain. It is not certain yet. Thank you.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 10 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can you tell us your concerns about the rebels' move, it seems, toward Freetown, as they took another key town yesterday -- Masiaka?
SG: I don't have enough details to be able to give you any precise comment, but let me say that I did speak to Bernard Miyet yesterday, who is on the ground, and I will be speaking to him again today. I'm expecting a brief from our men on the ground to tell me exactly where we are. I do hope that, if indeed it is correct, because we've gotten quite a bit of mis-information from the ground lately, that if the RUF is indeed moving, that they will be checked.
Q: Nigeria--should they go? Will the UN pay for them, as they want to go, ahead of any UN peacekeepers?
SG: There are discussions going on, and those discussions have not been concluded yet. I have been in touch with the Nigerian President and the American authorities who've been talking to them, and I think we have some way to go yet before we can make a judgement of that kind. But, in the meantime, we are moving ahead. We're strengthening the force, bringing it up to strength, bringing in the Jordanians, the Indians and the Bangladeshis, whilst we pursue the issue of a rapid reaction force.
Q: Are you going to bring in many more troops, are you going to commit to as many troops as possible, are you looking for help from the US and Great Britain and other countries?
SG: We are 3,000 short to pull us up to full strength, so we are trying to bring the force up to the full strength of 11,000. And or course, the issue of a rapid reaction force is on the table. The British presence has been helpful. At least they have moved--they have done something, even though the initial objective was to evacuate British and other nationals. Their presence in helping secure the airport, in Hastings and others, it's additional forces on the ground, and it has been positive.
Q. How soon could the Nigerian battalions be back in Sierra Leone, Secretary-General?
SG: We don't have enough information to be able to answer that question. But what I was told is that the defence ministers of the region are going to meet on the 17th of May, which means we are some way away from immediate deployment of the force.
Q: Do peacekeepers deserve a pay raise? It seems the Department is stretched, the UN is stretched. Do we get a better quality of peacekeeper if there was more invested?
SG: The best peacekeeper is a well-trained soldier. And we would have liked to see some of the governments with capacity, with good armies and well-trained soldiers, to participate. But they are not running forward to contribute to this force. So we have to take the forces we get. And this is why I had hoped that some of those with capacity would go to the assistance of those who are in there, doing the bidding for the Security Council and the UN.
Q: With all this talk about Africa for a whole month--a big focus--but it seems that, once again, the UN is being let down by people who have made a lot of promises and a lot of talk.
SG: The UN can be as strong as its member states, and we go back to the question of political will, and resources, and the willingness to commit the resources.
Q: Where is Foday Sankoh?
SG: I don't know. Again, you ask me, "Where is Foday Sankoh?" You will recall the earlier remarks when he left the house--that he was with his Sierra Leonnian army. I don't think we have been able to confirm that yet.
Q: How are the hostages?
SG: Well, we are trying to stabilise the situation and get them out of harm's way and consolidate. We are continuing our efforts to get them to safety. Thank you.
Press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ, 9 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Can you give us the latest on what you really have been promised by the people who you have appealed to on a rapid reaction force?
SG: As you know, the British forces are now on the ground, even though the primary objective is to lift British nationals out. I think their presence is going to be helpful. They are coordinating very effectively and closely with our people and I think that cooperation is going to be helpful. As far as Washington is concerned, they have given me the indication that they are still considering the request and they are likely to offer airlift to bring in other troops and give some logistical support, and that they are not likely to put troops down on the ground, but I haven't got a definitive answer on the request yet.
Q: Is the peace agreement dead, should it be re-negotiated?
SG: This is something that we need to look at, because basically our concern over the last few days has been to get our people to safety and these bigger issues of where do we go from here, whom are we dealing with, who are our interlocutors, what is the status of the peace agreement, all that is something we are looking at.
Q: How did we get to where we are now, looking back to the Sierra Leone crisis?
SG: I think everybody realized there would be some risk. But after many years of war and suffering of the people the international community decided to take the risk in the expectation that everyone who has signed the Agreement will abide by it. As it is patently obvious to all of us, one party had not abided by the commitment it made in Lome. There is also some of the leaders who helped broker Lome are meeting in Abuja [Nigeria] today. I am in touch with President Obasanjo and I will find out what their position is after the meeting. But I think what is important here is to consolidate the force, bring the force up to strength as quickly as possible and continue our efforts to tame Sierra Leone. Obviously the bigger questions imposed are also on the table, which we are looking at.
Q: Can you update us on the status of the talks in Conakry?
SG: It was only a one-day discussion yesterday and the leaders got together to discuss the situation in Sierra Leone and to press [rebel leader] Foday Sankoh to accept his responsibility and release the [UN troops]. That meeting is being followed up with a much larger summit in Abuja. So I am waiting to see what comes out from Abuja?
Q: Do you want a coalition of the willing rather than the UN, do you have any preference, what would be better?
SG: At this stage we have a UN force which is not up to strength. The ideal is to get it up to strength and the Rapid Reaction Force would have backed up the force on the ground. And as I said, the British presence is some sort of a help and I hope others who are considering would also indicate what they are prepared to do and can do. Thank you.
Comments to the press upon leaving UNRWA photo exhibit, UNHQ, 8 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: How can the mission in Sierra Leone be saved?
SG: Well, it is a rather difficult situation, as you can imagine. The first thing we are trying to do is to get all the people to sit in and ensure that we don't have a generalized violence. We intend to bring the force up to strength, and as you know, we are expecting to move in three additional battalions, which I hope will go in in the next week or two. And we are also trying to bring in--we've asked some governments to help us with a rapid reaction force, to really strengthen our positions and consolidate the force.
Q: Have you had any positive response on your request on that?
SG: The British have sent in some elements, and Washington is talking about it. And I know that they are also in touch with the Nigerians. There is a meeting in Nigeria tomorrow among some of the heads of states in the region, and I would await the outcome and the decisions they take there.
Q: I know there is a lot of talk about how the Nigerians can help. What sort of configuration do you think would be best for the Nigerians?
SG: Well, I really don't know. It's too early to say. I don't have the details to answer that question.
Q: There has been a little bit of talk about failure so far by peacekeeping forces, there's been some talk about poor communications, there were quotes in the [inaudible] over the weekend, [inaudible] talking about old maps. How does this happen?
SG: Well, obviously, it's not an ideal situation. It's not the proudest moment of the force. I think, in these sort of war situations, everything is possible. Even the simplest task can become very difficult and complicated. Anyway, Bernard Miyet is down on the ground with others trying to sort out what the military people on the ground -- how we can strengthen things like communication -- and make things much more effective. Others are helping. I hope that within the next few days or so that matters will be brought under control.
Q: Are you still in touch with Foday Sankoh [inaudible]?
SG: I've been told that when they had the 4,000 demonstrators outside his house, they slipped him out. So I don't know where he is. But I just got that report myself. Thank you very much.
Comments at UNRWA Exhibit, UNHQ, 8 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: I just wanted to know your reaction to the exhibit.
SG: I think it's very moving. The pictures tell a whole history of people. And what is remarkable is the artwork of the children. They have taken pains to put it together and to share it with us, and to tell it from their point of view as children--what this experience means to them.
Q: Was there one particular photo that touched you?
SG: I think I liked the first and the last one. There were lots of good pictures--and very interesting--but they both give you a sense of continuity and hope, for a young person reaching out to the other. Then you end with the same stretched hand with the baby on her lap, which indicates that there is continuity, there is laughter, there is hope, despite all that has happened. Thank you.
Comments to the press following Security Council meeting on Sierra Leone, UNHQ, 4 May, 6:30pm (unofficial transcript)
SG: The Security Council just passed a statement on Sierra Leone and I myself have been in touch with several of the leaders in the West African region. My latest discussion this afternoon was with President [Charles] Taylor of Liberia, who has been on the phone several times with Foday Sankoh and has sent an envoy there. He has been given an assurance that the helicopter crew will be allowed to return tomorrow morning. We will see, he got it from Foday Sankoh himself. We hope to see, we wait to see if this happens.
But he has also told him that all the hostages must be released, and the people who are being prevented from returning to their barracks should be able to do that. But he is not the only one. Several leaders in the region are at work, including Presidents [Olusegun] Obasanjo, [Alpha] Konaré of Mali, [Blaise] Compaoré of Burkina Faso. We have also involved, I also spoke to Col. [Muammar] Qadhafi, who is also sending an envoy. The Nigerian President sent an envoy. There are quite a lot of them. I may have left one or two out, but Fred will give you the details.
We are taking steps at the meeting I had today to see how we can reinforce the force as quickly as possible and get in some assets that would also be helpful to troops. But the immediate, our main concern is to get our people to safety and then tackle the other issues that will have to be dealt with.
Q. Mr. [Richard] Holbrooke is in the region right now. Would you like to divert him to Sierra Leone and see what he could do to help the situation?
SG: I spoke to him this afternoon from Kinshasa, where they have just had talks with President [Laurent] Kabila, and my own representative and I are in touch with other leaders in the region. We did talk about Sierra Leone but I don't think it is anticipated that he will divert his visit, his travel and go to Sierra Leone. And I am not sure how effective that would be at this stage.
Q: Foday Sankoh has said today that the RUF has no hostages. In your communications with any of these regional leaders, have they conveyed to you any different understanding of what they have gotten from Mr. Sankoh? Is he giving the same line to the African leaders?
SG: Nobody believes him. They didn't get that line from him. They have told him to take action, they have told him to release them; they have tried to impress on him the seriousness of the situation and the fact that he is placing himself in a very difficult situation and he's already isolated and it's going to get worse. And all the leaders are giving him the same message. If they thought he did not hold the hostages, they would not be acting that way with him.
Q: Is he asking for specific new measures?
SG: No, he hasn't made any demands.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you alluded to the possibility of a summit earlier today. Do you have any further information on that?
SG: These would be a summit for the ECOWAS countries to do, and I did talk to the President of ECOWAS, President Konaré of Mali and this is one of the options he is looking at.
Q: Has your Peacekeeping Department made an urgent appeal with contributing nations to make more funds [inaudible]?
SG: Yes, we have. You may know that Mrs. Fréchette met with some of the Council members and Bernard Miyet also briefed them yesterday on a need to reinforce the UN Mission. Ideally, one would want to see a Rapid Reaction Force go in to assist, but this can only happen if those with capacity are prepared to offer. And if it's going to happen, it is the sort of thing that you would want those who are well-trained, well-equipped and can get in very quickly, within a week or so -- and this is what we have been discussing with some other Member States.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can you give us an idea of what sort of technical or political support either Britain or France might be able to offer [inaudible]?
SG: We are in discussions with them, with the British, with the Americans, and I also raised this issue in Paris. But I am not in a position to give you details of specific offers or materiel they are prepared to give. But I hope this would become clear in the next day or so. I'm tired; if you don't mind, I will go home and sleep. Thank you very much.
Encounter with the press upon arrival at Headquarters, 4 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
SG: Ladies and gentlemen, as you know I just came back from an African trip, and I know a lot is going on here and you all heard what I've said about the Sierra Leonean situation. I am now going to meet with my senior advisors; we' re going to discuss and assess the latest information and then determine what further action we can take. In the meantime I've been on the phone with several heads of state and we're trying to strengthen the force and bring it back to strength as quickly as we can whilst we take steps to free our people who have either been taken hostage or are unaccounted for. But in the meantime I'm going to have my discussions upstairs. Probably at the end of that I'll have more to tell you.
Q: Are you willing to intervene personally with Sankoh to help in the release?
SG: Well, we have spoken to quite a few leaders who have direct contact and some with influence on him who have sent envoys. The Nigerian President sent his National Security Adviser yesterday. The President of Mali, who is the head of the West African group, ECOWAS, is sending in his Foreign Minister and there may be a summit meeting to put pressure on.
Q: Have you gotten any indication from the United States or any European powers that they will help provide transport to get these troops into theatre as quickly as possible?
SG: I know it's being discussed - I've got no confirmation yet but I hope it will be forthcoming and some have indicated that they may give us some force multipliers.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I come from the Philippines and I would like to ask you a question about Mindanao. The Abu Sayyaf there has refused to speak with the Government and they say they will only negotiate with the United Nations. May I ask your stand regarding this case?
SG: Well, I've been following it with distress. Each time there is hostage-taking no one can condone it or approve of that kind of behaviour. We have not been directly involved yet because the government has been handling the negotiations but obviously we will support and do whatever we can to help in the process.
Press encounter following meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, Paris, 3 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
On vient d'avoir des entretiens avec le chef d'etat, le President (Jacques) Chirac. On a parle du Liban et du retrait israelien. On a discute un peu l'Afrique. Moi, je venais de l'Afrique et on a aussi parle de la situation en Sierra Leone et la force du maintien de la paix qui est prevue pour le Congo Democratique.
Q: Votre commentaire, M. le secretaire-general, sur la situation aujourdhui en Sierra Leone?
SG: C'est grave et serieux. Je suis decu par le comportement de Foday Sankoh et de RUF. Je suis en contact avec plusieurs chefs d'etat dans la region qui ont decide d'envoyer des gens pour parler avec lui. Et j'espere que d'ici tres peu de temps ils vont liberer ces hotages qu'ils ont fait, parce que le peuple de Sierra Leone ont besoin de la paix - ils ont trop souffert; et cette affaire ne doit pas trainer. Le comportement de Foday Sankoh et de ses troupes risque de compliquer la situation et le deploiement des troupes pour le Congo, parce que les etats membres vont etre decourages d'envoyer des troupes en Afrique, donc j'espere qu'on va pouvoir le regler aussitot que possible.
Q: Mr. Annan, could I ask you in English please one last question? What is the United Nations doing to try to get the hostages back?
SG: As you know, we know where Foday Sankoh is. We are in touch with him, and as I indicated earlier, several heads of state in the region are sending envoys and senior people and those who were involved in the peace negotiations to put pressure on him to pull his men back so that the peacekeepers can do their work. Obviously, we need to reassess after this incident, what modifications, what change in attitude, what change in our relationship with him and others, have to be made. But it's not encouraging and this is why I'm saying if this continues, already we know what happened after the tragedy in Somalia (in 1993). We know that the international community and the western countries were not ready to go to Rwanda. And after Sierra Leone I think there's going to be very little encouragement for any of them to get involved in operations in Africa.
Q: Do you fear that this could derail the peace process on the way?
SG: I hope not. I mean, we went into this realizing that there would be risks. It's not a risk-free operation, but I hope we'll be able to manage it and continue our work. Thank you very much.
Press conference in Yaounde, Cameroon, 3 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Est-ce que l'ONU pouvait aider à ce que le système électoral au Cameroun soit amélioré notamment en fournissant les matériaux pour saisir les listes électorales, parce que aujourd'hui nous avions 3 million au lieu de 7 million de votants?
SG: Je vois que vous etes un vrai politicien. Je vais vous répondre simplement que les Nations Unies ont l'habitude d'aider les pays dans les élections. On peut faire tout ce que vous venez de demander mais il faut que le gouvernement le demande. On ne peut pas s'imposer. On le fait sur invitation. Donc si c'est le souhait de tout le monde, on sera pret à le faire.
Q: Au moment où s'achève votre visite de trois jours au Cameroun, qu'est ce qu'on peut retenir de vos différentes rencontres?
SG: J'ai eu des discussions très utiles avec le Chef de l'Etat. On a discuté des problèmes politiques et le développement économique national. On a aussi abordé la question de sécurité sur la sous-région. On a parlé des droits de l'homme, de la bonne gouvernance, et l'état de droit. Ce matin, j'ai abordé à peu près les memes questions avec les leaders des partis politiques que j'ai rencontrés ; les questions sur les élections. On a parlé aussi du problème anglophone.
Ce matin, j'ai eu l'occasion de dire à mes amis que je quitte le Cameroun sachant qu'il n'y a qu'un Cameroun ; un Cameroun qui est multi-ethnique, multi-linguistique, et on ne doit pas le séparer à cause d'une langue ou l'autre. Ce qui est important c'est de dialoguer comme on dit ici, avoir une ambiance politique ouverte, avoir un état de droit et le respect pour les droits des autres, et assurer chaque individu, chaque ethnie que tout le monde appartient au Cameroun. On n'a pas besoin de se partager ou créer un autre état, et j'espère que ce message sera retenu. Je souhaite qu'on reste ouvert à continuer le dialogue et à améliorer la situation de tout le monde pour vivre l'expérience démocratique que les Camerounais aiment.
Q: Are you aware of any revendications that came from Cameroon as a former trusteeship territory of the UN?
SG: If I got the import of what you are trying to say, it is if the UN has any residual responsibility for Cameroon, and if there is any action the UN can take if things were going wrong. First of all, Cameroon is an independent country,. The UN normally does not interfere in the internal affairs of independent countries, whether the history of a country ties it with the UN or not, whether it was once under the trusteeship of the UN or not. Once a country is independent, the leaders and the people of that country must run its affairs. As I have indicated with the Government, it is our intention to assist, and we are working with the Government in all sorts of ways ; all the UN Agencies here, 14 of them, are working here in your country. But to interject ourselves and say that you were once a trusteeship and therefore we have a right to come in and intervene, I do not think it's on the cards. The UN is not going to do that.
Q: Avez-vous abordé le conflit frontalier entre le Cameroun et le Nigéria sur Bakassi pendant vos discussions avec les autorités camerounaises?
SG: Oui, ca a été abordé. Heureusement, la Cour de la Haye est en train de régler cette affaire. J'encourage les deux états de continuer à régler cette affaire pacifiquement. J'espère que entre temps on ne va pas avoir les reprises des tensions dans la région. Moi-meme, je suis en contact avec les deux Chefs d'Etats.
Q: Quelle appréciation portez-vous des initiatives prises en concert avec la communauté internationale pour résoudre le problème de dettes des pays pauvres et quelles autres initiatives peuvent etre entreprises dans le contexte actuel?
SG: Evidemment, chaque Etat a son propre programme, et certains sont en train d'etre élaborés. Moi-meme, dans le rapport que je viens de sortir en novembre dernier sur le sommet du millénaire, ai suggéré un certain nombre de choses qu'il faut faire pour lutter contre la pauvrete. J'ai parlé du SIDA et tout ce qu'on peut faire pour freiner cette maladie tragique. J'ai eu l'occasion de discuter de cela avec le Président et lui, avec les autres Chefs d'Etat vont commencer à lutter. Vous allez entendre from West to East, North to South. And I hope you, the press would also take on the battle and really raise awareness on SIDA or AIDS, as we call it where I come from. I must also say that it is not something the leaders alone can do. Everyone has to get involved individuals, families, NGOs, political parties and Governments. Let's go ahead and declare a war on SIDA. I think you heard me yesterday when I said that we need to break the conspiracy of silence surrounding SIDA, because silence is death.
Q: Have you had occasion to meet with representatives of the Southern Cameroon National Council, which has actually tabled something in front of the many Commissions in the UN?
SG: I think we had one of them, the deputy Secretary-General at the meeting yesterday morning with the political party leaders. At any rate, the message I had for them was that one should try and work out differences. I think in one of my earlier answers I did deal with this issue. I don't think we should get into the habit of saying we are breaking up a country, or we are walking away, when there are divisions or when one feels discriminated against. I think what is important.and which I said before, (we have the UN University based in Tokyo which did a very interesting study reaching the conclusion that poverty alone was not a determinant factor ; that poor states need not be at war). And that what often leads to conflict is when whole groups feel discriminated against either because of ethnicity, religion or gender. The existence of this situation by itself does not create conflict. But it is often exploited by politicians and that leads to serious problems. What one has to do in these situations is to deal with the issues, make sure there is dialogue, make sure there is communication, make sure that the Government and the ruling class organise society in such a manner, and treats the population in such a way that each group feels that the Government is its Government, that it (group ) belongs to the country too, and that they are all sharing in the benefits and the welfare of the country. I think that's the way to tackle the issue, because if each time you have a grievance you have to break away, then given the 250 ethnic groups we have in Cameroon, you risk ending up in 230 entities. Please, make your point, make it within the group, do it assertively and work within the system. This question of breaking away or fighting really works against everybody. It scores away investors, both local and international. Nobody wants to invest in a bad neighbourhood, and the economic situation gets worse. Let's find a way of coming together to solve our problems within a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual Cameroon. And I think it can be done.
Q: En ce qui concerne la situation dans la sous-région, qu'est-ce que vous en dites au moment où vous quittez l'Afrique Centrale?
SG: On a terminé notre mission de maintien de la paix (dans la République Centrafricaine) mais on ne va pas quitter Bangui. On vient d'établir un autre bureau lá-bas pour appuyer la paix, consolider la paix, et je viens de nommer un représentant spécial, M. Sy. Donc on va continuer à travailler avec eux, et j'espère qu'on va arriver à consolider la paix.
Q: I'm a regular victim of human rights abuse, for whom the UN recommended compensation from the Cameroonian Government. I would like to know if you raised this point in your discussions with the authorities here?
SG: Let me say that I did have the opportunity of discussing the human rights issue with the Government and the leadership at the highest level. We have also discussed with the Government the assistance the United Nations can give it in strengthening its human rights mechanism, its human rights education, materials for schools and some assistance in strengthening the national human rights commission, which my representative here will follow up. With regards to your particular situation, and the details about your case, I regret to say that I did not take it up, because I didn't have all the details. But now that you have raised it, I will discuss it with my colleagues and, maybe, check with the authorities what was happening.
Q: What did the authorities, particularly, the President, tell you about the anglophone problem?
SG: I think I have given you a gist of my conversation with the President and with the leadership, and I hope you would excuse me if I don't go into a detailed blow-by-blow account of what the President and I discussed. You have to understand that in my situation if each time I talk to a Head of State I put it all out in public to the press, tomorrow they (the presidents) would only talk to me about their grandchildren and the weather.
On the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kofi Annan said: We are preparing a UN force to go in there. The Security Council has approved a force of 5500 including 500 observers who are going there to monitor the cease fire, monitor the withdrawal of troops and ensure that those who signed the Lusaka Accord are respecting it. Last week-end there was a meeting in Algiers with the Presidents Kabila, Obasanjo, Mbeki and Bouteflika, where Kabila reaffirmed his determination to abide by the Lusaka Accord. Others who have signed it seem to indicate they would do the same. So, we are going ahead with our preparation for deployment. As of today we don't have all the forces that we need and we're working with Governments to get the missing elements so that we can have the full force to go in.
Speaking quite frankly, most of the Western countries would not want to send troops to Africa after what happened in Somalia and Rwanda. Having said that, I hope we would be able to get the force to send into the DRC. The Security Council is dispatching a mission there tomorrow and they will be talking to the parties involved, assessing the situation for themselves on the ground. I expect when they come back to New York and brief the Council and myself, and then a determination will be made.
Press conference following meeting with President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic, Bangui, 1 May 2000 (unofficial transcript)
Q: Mr. le SG, selon vous, la RCA constitue-t-elle un example de reussite pour les Nations Unies, comparativement a l'exemple de l'Angola et d'autres pays?
SG: En ce qui concerne la question de la paix, les Nations Unies seules ne peuvent rien faire. Sans cooperation des gouvernements et du peuple des pays, on ne peut pas imposer la paix; on peut aider. Et donc, sans cooperation, la MINURCA n'aurait pas pu achever ses objectifs. Donc, je suis content qu'on a pu le faire mais on doit continued. C'est un effort qui doit etre soutenu. Effort pour la democratie, rspect pour les droits de l'homme, l'effort d'etablir un etat base sur droits doit continuer. Mais en ce qui concerne ce qu'on a pu faire ici avec MINURCA, je crois que c'est un exemple pour les autres etats dans la region. Merci.
Q: Vous avez discute avec le President de la Republique sur la necessite d'envoi des troupes contrafricaines en RDC et de securisation des frontieres, notamment a l'Est qui sont le passage d'infiltration des rebelles congolais et soudanais.
SG: Non. On a parle de la question de securite mais pas en detail en ce qui concerne la question de protection de la frontiere. On a parle des questions de securite et les plans que les troupements ont dit pour reformer l'armee. Et j'espere que celle-ci va continuer, va commencer aussitot.
Q: Vous avez dit, Mr. le Secretaire General des Nations Unies, votre determination a vous attaquer aux problemes de la pauvrete. Quels sont vos domaines prioritaires dans cette lutte?
SG: J'avais indique certains indices, d'abord l'education, la question de sante y compris la lutte contre le Sida, question de l'eau propre et il faut evidemment constituer des institutions valables et solides et encourager gouvernement qui est transparent a essayer aussi d'eviter des corruptions pour permettre que l'argent qui entre pour appliquer au developpement economique et social.
Q: Mr. le Secretaire General, beaucoup d'africains comme moi, et les centrafricains en particulier ne comprennent pas que les Nations Unies depensent beaucoup d'argent pour soutenir des conflits, pour mettre la paix, n'est-ce pas en Afrique. Alors que cet argent aurait pu servir au developpement. Qu'est-ce que vous en pensez?
SG: Vous avez entierement raison. Je suis tout a fait d'accord avec vous. Mais la question, ce n'est pas aux NU qu'on doit poser la question. Il faut poser la question a nous les Africains et nos Chefs d'Etat. Comment ca se fait qu'on a autant de crises dans nos continents? Comment ca se fait qu'on n'arrive pas a regler nos problemes a travers le dialogue? Comment ca se fait que des pays qui n'ont pas d'argent, des pays pauvres, depensent autant d'argent pour les armements? On s'attaque, parfois on se tue et on demande ou est le monde? Ou sont les Nations Unies? Je crois que la meilleure facon c'est de s'organiser de sorte que on arrive a regler le probleme politiquement, on evite la guerre, on evite la confrontation militaire. Je crois que c'est le premier et le meilleur moyen de resoudre le probleme africain. Mais si on va continuer a creer des crises, a s'attaquer, a se bagarrer, a se tuer et se demander ou est les Nations Unies, je crois que l'Afrique, ca va tellement, tellement mal partir.
Q: Mr. le SG, au cours de votre sejour de quelques heures en Rep. Centrafricaine, votre Excellence a ete recue en audience par le President de l'Assemblee Nationale, ce qui vous a permis de vous informer sur ce qui est applique par l'Assemblee Nationale. Que vous inspire alors le discours de Mr. le President de l'Assemblee Nationale?
SG: En effet, je n'ai pas seulement vu le President de l'Assemblee Nationale. J'ai vu certains membres du parlement y compris les membres de l'opposition. On a pu discuter des situations politiques internes, des relations entre les parties et ils ont souleve un certain nombre de problemes que je vais etudier. Je suis en contact avec le Parlement, avec eux.
Q: Mr. le SG, il semblerait que la base M'Poko doit servir de base arriere a la MONUC. Alors, si tel en est le cas, en quoi l'utilisation de cette base peut-elle etre profitable a la Rep. Centrafricaine? Ne voyez-vous pas la un danger que vous encourez a la Rep. Centrafricaine sur le plan diplomatique a son voisin direct, le Congo-democratique?
SG: Non. Pas du tout. Je crois que c'est un soutien logistique et evidemment. J'espere qu'on va creer un plan. Il y a beaucoup d'avions qui va venir ici. Il y a aussi des taux a payer. Mais ce sera simplement un soutien logistique mais ca ne doit pas impliquer la Rep. Centrafricaine dans la guerre en RDC. Merci.
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