Secretary-General's Press Encounter with Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik and Vienna City Mayor Michale Haupl
Vienna, 25 April 2008[The Austrian Foreign Minister first made an opening statement and Mayor Häupl spoke briefly].
Q: Could you comment on the rising food prices? How should the United Nations deal with the African and international crisis?
SG: The steeply rising price of food has developed into a real global crisis. The United Nations is very much concerned, as are all other members of the international community. We must take immediate action in a concerted way. In the short term, we must address all humanitarian crises, which have been impacting the poorest of the poor people in the world. Additionally, 100 million people have been driven into this additional hunger crisis. The World Food Programme has made an urgent appeal for an additional US$755 million to fill a gap to carry out its humanitarian work. In the long term, the international community, particularly the leaders of the international community, should sit down together on an urgent basis and address how we can, first of all, improve these economic systems, distribution systems, as well as how we can promote the improved production of agricultural products.
Last month, I convened the MDG [Millennium Development Goals] Africa Steering Group. In that meeting, we adopted several important recommendations, which approved as one of the initiatives to try to launch the Africa “green revolution”. I am going to discuss this matter in depth with all the agencies, heads of agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations, including the Bretton Woods financial institutions, the World Bank and IMF, on 28 and 29 April in Switzerland to discuss this matter. Then, we will try to see what kind of immediate action and immediate long-term actions we can take as a part of a United Nations-led initiative.
Q: What do you make of US claims that a Syrian nuclear reactor, destroyed last year by Israel, was within months or weeks of being functional? And as a follow-up, do you share the opinion of Mohamed ElBaradei that the US should have provided this information long ago and that Israel's bombing was counter-productive?
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what are your ideas and plans for Kosovo and the international presence there, the UN presence as well as the EU presence?
SG: On the first question, this North Korea and Syrian relationship on nuclear power plants, I do not have any concrete, detailed information. There have been some discussions. I know that. In any case, as a matter of principle, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, any materials [possibly used to that end] is a serious source of concern. The international community must work hard to prevent such proliferation of [weapons of] mass destruction and related materials.
And on the Kosovo situation: Again, the overriding priority, at this time, is to manage this situation on the ground in a peaceful way. The United Nations will exercise the necessary mandate and authority provided by UN Security Council Resolution 1244. There have been some unfortunate incidents. We must prevent such violence from taking place again. And as situations are changing rapidly on the ground, I hope that the parties concerned will continue to have very close coordination. This is one of the most important agendas, which I am going to discuss with the Austrian Government and the European leaders, as a whole. And I have been discussing this matter with other parties directly concerned.