Press Encounter with the Secretary-General and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission following their meeting
New York, 27 April 2007SG: I would like, first of all, to welcome Dr. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. I am very pleased to welcome him to the United Nations. We had a very good consultation in February when I was visiting Europe. We discussed matters covering global issues, including United Nations reform. I asked for the strong support of the European countries for reform processes and we discussed global issues, African strategy, including the Darfur situation, and climate change issues, and the situation in Kosovo. All in all, the United Nations has been enjoying an excellent cooperative relationship in terms of policy matters, as well as in development strategy, meeting the target of MDGs [Millennium Development Goals]. And I am very much appreciate the European Union's contribution and active participation in all activities of the United Nations. This is ongoing consultation at the highest level, between the United Nations and Europe, and I count on continued support and contribution from the European Commission.
EC President: Thank you very much. It was indeed a pleasure to meet again Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It was a very important occasion that, at the beginning of his mandate, he came to Brussels – we had then a very good exchange of views and we are keeping this on a regular basis. The Secretary-General already announced the points we have covered. Let me just underline one or two points. First of all - our full support to efforts of the Secretary-General to reform the United Nations system. It is crucially important for the credibility, the legitimacy of the multilateral approach that we in the European Union support. It is very important to achieve the result we want – on peace, development, human rights, respect of human rights and global security – to have this kind of more efficient, more modern United Nations. Secondly, our support for the agenda on climate change - I briefed the Secretary-General about the recent decisions taken at the European Union level. We were very happy to take the lead in that matter and so we welcome all efforts that can be pursued at the United Nations level to make this even higher in the global agenda. We have exchanged views on which way we can help, that global awareness of something that now is clear, that exists - - scientific evidence confirms it. And now what we need is the political will to give an answer to that challenge.
Africa was also a main topic – about our commitment to upgrade support to Africa, and I was especially grateful to the United Nations Secretary-General [for] information on Darfur and the efforts that we can and should be doing to put an end to that very dramatic situation. Once again, thank you very much, Secretary-General, for your very frank and open and very constructive spirit, I really welcome this kind of good cooperation between the European Commission and the United Nations.
Q: Regarding the escalation between Russia and eastern Europe. Now you are moving your missiles east of Europe and Mr. [Vladimir] Putin is very edgy and unhappy about that. What are you going to do to de-escalate this situation?
EC President: The announcement regarding CFE was, as others have said, disappointing and, in fact, it is sending a signal that is not the best signal, not the most helpful for the kind of relations that we in Europe want to have with Russia. We in the European Commission will stay interested in developing constructive, positive, strategic relations with Russia. Of course, there are sometimes some difficulties, but I believe that we can deal with those difficulties in a global, positive and constructive framework. So, we believe it was a disappointing signal and we will, of course, address this issue – the issues of bilateral relations with our Russian partners – we are preparing, I will be in Samara [the Russian Federation] next month for the Summit, the regular European Union/Russia Summit. Regarding specific issues now about missiles- those should have been dealt with in other fora and we support all efforts to create the best possible atmosphere between the European Union and Russia.
Q: Mr. Barroso and also Mr. Secretary-General - on climate change. Mr. Barroso, could you give us some specifics on what exactly you think that the European Union can do to ratchet up the political will on climate change? And, Mr. Secretary-General, I wondered if you could answer that same question? And also, tell us about your discussion earlier today with [former] Vice President Al Gore who told us on his way out that you discussed climate change. Did you seek his help in doing anything?
EC President: First of all, our first contribution was clearly stated when we decided at the beginning of March, all heads of certain governments of the European Union, the very ambitious package of measures regarding climate change and insecurity. Accepting very ambitious targets for the developed world and some targets we have committed ourselves to unilaterally, through 2020, in terms of CO2 emissions in terms of renewables, in terms of bio-fuel, in terms of energy efficiency. It is, by far, the most ambitious package. And now, of course, we are not to speak about nuclear warming, but about global warming. It is very important to engage them, especially with our American friends and we are going to discuss this. I will be going to Washington [DC] on Monday, together with Chancellor [Angela] Merkel, the current President of the [European] Council to discuss this with President [George W.]Bush. It is very important that others, like the United States, like China, can also engage with this level of ambition. And my message to the Secretary-General, and I was happy to see how committed he is to that agenda, is that the United Nations, as such, could and should also, through their institutions, organize some initiatives, and we in the European Union will support the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to put this higher in the global political and, I would say, public opinion agenda.
SG: I would like to commend the European Union's initiative to cut voluntary 20% of emissions rate by 2020. The European Union, and I was told by President Barroso, that if other developing countries cooperate as willing to cut even 30% of emission rate, this is a very important initiative with which I would like to continue to cooperate fully. You are fully aware of my strong commitment to address the global warming issue and I am going to take an important role in mobilizing political will in close coordination with the European Commission when I attend the G-8 Summit meeting in June. This will be one of the important agenda [items]. This morning, I had again, a very good meeting with former Vice President Al Gore and I was very much encouraged by his firm commitment, as well as voluntary willingness to help the cause of the United Nations and to address jointly together in whatever capacity he may have. He offered strong support and commitment to work very closely with me, and I am going to fully use his very powerful political message to mobilize political will and thus enhance the awareness of the international community with this issue. Thank you very much.