Secretary-General's press conference with Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic (unofficial transcript)
Bratislava, Slovakia, 28 January 2008SG: Thank you very much, Mr. President, and good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media. It is a great pleasure for me to visit Slovakia, for the first time in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations. We just discussed Slovakia's key contributions to the causes of the United Nations, ranging from peace and security to development and human rights.
In the relatively short period of your independence, you have come full circle from an aid beneficiary to a donor nation. Today, Slovakia funds scores of development projects in poor parts of Asia and Africa and elsewhere.
Your experience is very important, as we are accelerating implementation of the Millennium Development Goals [and] I have launched an initiative at Davos to convene a high level meeting of the United Nations in September. In that regard, I have invited President Ga?parovic to attend that very important summit level meeting to galvanize political will of this very important commitment of the United Nations.
I have discussed Slovakia's contribution on key regional issues, especially in the Middle East and the Balkans, including Kosovo and Cyprus.
On Kosovo, we shared the concern about the uncertainty in the situation on the ground and agreed to keep in close touch on the future developments.
My first and foremost priority will be on how best to protect human lives and maintain the UN legacy there.
In the days and weeks ahead, I will closely consult on the way forward with other leaders in the international community, including the Security Council, the European Union and the region. I can assure you that, at the right time, I will take a responsible course of action as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
I have also expressed my appreciation for Slovakia's contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Cyprus. In Cyprus, Slovakia also plays an important role in facilitating the meetings of the political party representatives from the two communities.
And I would like to also express my sincere appreciation for Slovakia's contribution to security sector reform, on which I have received the very important report of Slovakia's contribution from President Ga?parovic. I am sure that Slovakia will continue to make important contributions to the agenda, building upon its valuable experience in the Security Council for the past two years.
Thank you very much. I will be ready to answer your questions.
Q: [I have two big questions regarding Kosovo.] You just mentioned that at the right time you will undertake appropriate steps as Secretary-General. What time will it be and what steps will it be? And, two days ago in Slovenia you said - you warned - of the dangerous impasse regarding Kosovo. Are you confident that the Europeans will be able to solve it in a right manner?
SG: I am often asked about what course of action, and when, I will take. That I cannot tell you yet at this time. Let me emphasize here again that as the situation continues to unfold, I will carefully assess all the parameters, the political consequences, the legal implications and impact on security on the ground. As I said, my first and foremost priority will be to protect human lives and preserve the achievements of the United Nations and we will see an authority of the United Nations, and I will very closely consult with European Union and other concerned parties. You may recall that in my latest report to the Security Council, I have taken note of the intention of the European Union to deploy such rule of law missions.
Q: Do you think that the Europeans can solve this delicate question on their own?
SG: This is basically (?inaudible ) European issue, therefore in close consultation with the parties concerned, the European Union will take the primary responsibility in this issue.
Q: Secretary-General, just briefly, when can we expect your decision on a so-called super envoy of the United Nations in Afghanistan following Paddy Ashdown's withdrawal from, say, running for the post?
SG: First of all, I'd like to make it quite clear, that there was no such concept or idea having somebody as a so-called super-envoy in Afghanistan. I was in the process of selecting a special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The idea of a so-called super envoy seems to have come from misunderstandings. As you may remember, in September last year during the General Assembly session, I had convened a high-level Ministerial meeting on the situation in Afghanistan. At that time, many Member States have expressed their strong desire that the UN should take a leading role in coordinating all the policies and strategies among international actors operating in Afghanistan, and, on that basis, I have been going through the selection process. Of course, Mr. Paddy Ashdown was one of the very strong candidates whom I have met and interviewed and I regarded him as a very capable person. He telephoned me and he sent me a letter formally that under such circumstances, misperceptions and misunderstandings over his candidature would not make it possible [for him] to work or being considered as a candidate. I regret that and I have to still go through this selection process to find a distinguished and capable person who will be able to exercise leadership and do a coordinating role for peace and security in Afghanistan.