Secretary-General's press encounter following the International Conference in support of the Somalia Security Institutions and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) (also attended by Sheikh Sharif SHEIKH AHMED, President, Somalia, Louis MICHEL, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative, Amr MOUSSA, Secretary-General, League of Arab States, Ahmedou OULD-ABDALLAH, UN Special Repres
Brussels, Belgium, 23 April 2009SG: Thank you very much. First of all I would like to thank President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed for your participation. It has been a great pleasure for us to meet with you and to listen to your vision and I like to take this opportunity to express my most sincere thanks to all members of the international community for their strong support and generous contribution for peace and stability and development of the people of Somalia.
I would like to summarize my feelings with just two words: I am hopeful, I am very much hopeful and I am realistic. Hopeful in a sense that Somalia is standing at crossroads. We have seen so much strong support and political will demonstrated and we have seen so much focused and determined political will and leadership of President Sheikh Ahmed, and realistic, we need to be realistic in the sense that peace and stability may not take place tomorrow morning so we need to be patient but continuously commit ourselves.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you allow me, let me look at another area of my responsibility as Secretary-General. I would like to briefly talk about the situation in Sri Lanka although I know this is the time for us to focus on the situation in Somalia
I am most concerned at the rapidly deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka.
I would like to take this opportunity to strongly urge all the parties concerned to respect the call of the Security Council made yesterday, in full and without further delay. Too many lives are at stake. The United Nations stands ready to do whatever it can to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and to protect civilian population in close coordination with the international community.
What is most important at this time, as my Envoy had discussed and agreed with President Rajapaksa, I intend to immediately dispatch a UN humanitarian team to the No-Fire Zone. The purpose of this humanitarian team would be to first of all monitor the situation and support the humanitarian assistance and try to do whatever we can to protect the civilian population who are caught ? in a war zone. It is critical that this team be allowed into the Zone as soon as possible and I am asking for strong support and speedy assistance of the Sri Lankan government. At the same time I want to urge LTTE to lay down their arms and do whatever to protect the civilian population. So many lives have been sacrificed and there is no time to lose. Thank you very much.
Q: On the newly adopted Sharia law in Somalia and if it is questionable that EU and the UN train police to enforce it.
SG: I respect every country of the international community, they have their own traditions, own laws, but what is most important is that there is a universally accepted principle that must be respected across borders. These human rights are a universally accepted principle. If any domestic laws or regulations are against these universally accepted principles that must be changed and that is the basic principle and position of the United Nations.
Q: On if some Somalis should be taken off a list of terrorists as a part of reconciliation.
SG: I think we have just taken the first step of a very important process in Somalia. Somalia has been an almost lawless state for almost 18 years. It is very important that this time we devote time and energy on restoring peace and stability, rule of law, human rights and also in parallel with that economic and social recovery. Now for this specific question of delisting from sanctions for particular persons, that will have to be discussed by the Security Council at an appropriate time when the conditions are met. Thank you.
Off-the-Cuff on 23 April 2009