Secretary-General's press encounter with German Minister for Defence, Franz Josef Jung
Berlin, Germany, 16 July 2008SG: As you know this is going to be the last of my meetings in Berlin. The Defence Minister and I had a very constructive and useful discussion over breakfast this morning and I appreciate your friendship and hospitality.
We discussed matters of mutual concern, especially Afghanistan, Kosovo, Darfur, Sudan, the Middle East and Germany's participation in international peacekeeping operations.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my gratitude for Germany's contribution to peacekeeping operations. Germany is not only the third largest financial contributor to the United Nations, but has been actively participating in many UN peacekeeping operations, and also international and stabilization forces, namely in Afghanistan.
Germany has also increased its military contributions to many areas and I'm encouraged by all that German men and women have been contributing for peace and stability in Lebanon, the maritime task force, and also in Afghanistan, you have the third largest forces in Afghanistan.
I was encouraged by Minister Jung's determination to increase by 1,000 more soldiers in Afghanistan. I'd really like to express my sincere appreciation on this. We have also agreed to work very closely in Afghanistan and Lebanon and for overall peace and security in the Middle East and also peacekeeping operations in Darfur.
I also wish to note that Germany has contributed significantly to training and capacity building for the Afghanistan national police and I have especially requested the Minister to consider increasing additional female police officers to Afghanistan and Israel. All in all I'm very much grateful to Germany's contribution and cooperation for the work of the United Nations and I'm looking forward to welcoming him to the United Nations when he comes to the UN on November 20th. Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, for your support. Thank you.
Q: Mr General Secretary, do you have a comment on Germany's role in the exchange of prisoners in Israel?
SG: I have been closely working with German facilitators and I appreciate this contribution and I'm very much encouraged by the exchange of prisoners. I hope this will be the beginning of many to come in the future. I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and commend the leadership and initiative of my facilitator for his role to enable this release of prisoners. There are still many more to be done. I hope the release of Corporal [Gilad] Schalit and the Palestinian prisoners will also be realized as soon as possible. This is an important humanitarian aspect of Security Council Resolution 1701. But much more needs to be done and I take this opportunity to express again my appreciation to the German Government for their very sincere support in this matter. Thank you.
Q: What should be done in your opinion to make the UN mission in Darfur more efficient? What do you expect from the European Union and what do you expect especially from Germany?
SG: The international community, particularly led by the United Nations, has been trying its best to expedite this peace process and deployment of hybrid operations as soon as possible. Unfortunately we have not seen much progress owing to many difficult circumstances coming from the inflexibility of the Sudanese Government, coming from our own problems in getting the necessary and critical assets like aviation or helicopters or ground transportation. My goal is to deploy 80% of peacekeeping operations by the end of this year in Darfur and I have recently appointed a joint chief mediator, who used to be the former Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, who is on a full-time basis engaged in the peace process to help the peace process move. I also hope the relationship between South and North of Sudan will progress so that by 2011 there will be an election in accordance with this peace process agreement. Now we, at this time, when the ICC has requested an indictment of President [Omar al-] Bashir of Sudan, I have requested strongly to the Sudanese Government, particularly President Bashir, to fully cooperate with the United Nations so that the UN can continue its mission as mandated by the United Nations Security Council. Also it' s absolutely necessary that humanitarian workers continue their very noble work to assist those over 4 million internally displaced persons and refugees. They need assistance from the international community. The safety and security of UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers are paramount and the Sudanese Government should ensure all possible efforts to protect their safety and security.