Secretary-General's joint press conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
Oslo, Norway, 31 August 2009SG: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your warm welcome and hospitality. I am already fascinated and impressed by the warmth of the Norwegian people and Government.
Distinguished members of the press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be in Norway.
I am not going to repeat what Prime Minister Stoltenberg has explained about our bilateral meeting this morning. In fact, this morning over breakfast with the Foreign Minister and now with the Prime Minister, I have had extremely productive talks.
We discussed multilateralism and Norway's role in the international community, particularly how we can work together to address the many challenges facing this world. Norway, by any standards, is the strongest supporter, a steadfast believer in the goals and ideals of the United Nations. I am very much encouraged by such a strong support given by the Norwegian Government to the Organization and to me as the Secretary-General.
My distinguished predecessor, Trygve Lie, whose memorial I will visit together with the Prime Minister shortly, is part of a long tradition of Norway's visionary international engagement.
Norway plays a vital role in today's world. It is a truly committed global citizen.
The crises of the past year and this year– fuel, food, flu and financial – have emphasized how interdependent we are.
These crises are compounded by a most serious challenge: Climate change. And we have another challenge these days: the proliferation of deadly weapons, nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. The plight of two billion people living in poverty.
None of these problems can be solved by any nation acting alone; however, one country may be resourceful or powerful. They demand a renewed multilateralism. A multilateralism that delivers real results for real people who really need our support and cooperation.
Norway has been and is delivering. It is among the most dynamic and generous supporters of the United Nations.
It works for sustainable development. I am very encouraged by the promise by the Prime Minister this morning that Norway will be able to reach 1.1% of its GDP to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). You are one of the five countries who have already reached the goal of 0.7%. Even beyond this, you have reached 1%. This is extraordinarily impressive and I [am] very grateful. I commend your leadership and commitment on this matter.
Norway has been supporting peacekeeping around the world. It is a leader on climate change and global health, particularly maternal health and children's health. It is firm and outspoken on protecting human rights around the world.
We need such commitment and we need more of it. As an example, Prime Minister Stoltenberg has worked as one of the co-Chairs of the High Level Panel on system-wide coherence. I am pleased to report to you that the General Assembly is now very close to making a decision, an agreement on these recommendations of the High Level Panel on system-wide coherence report.
That is exactly what the United Nations should do in meeting the expectations of the international community: acting as one United Nations, delivering as one United Nations. This is a very important reform measure of the United Nations at this time.
One of the principal reasons for my visit to Norway is to see first-hand the dramatic changes to the Arctic and to learn what that means for humankind.
This evening I will fly north to Svalbard to meet with scientists who are gathering important climate data.
I will take what I have learned to the high level summit on climate change that I am going to convene in New York on 22 September. I am very encouraged that Prime Minister Stoltenberg has received my invitation to participate in this summit, and particularly for the small gathering over a working dinner with leaders from major emitting countries and major contributing countries, like Norway through the REDD initiative [United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries], and also leaders from the most vulnerable countries.
I will try to deliver a clear strong message from my visit to the North Pole. We have only 15 negotiating days left before the Copenhagen climate change meeting.
Now is the time for decision-making. We must seal a deal in Copenhagen for a global, equitable and comprehensive deal for the future of humanity and the future of Planet Earth.
I thank you for your attention and I thank the Norwegian people and Government for such a great leadership, initiative, commitment and generous contribution for the future of humanity.
Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, welcome to Norway. You have endured a lot of criticism for the role of the UN in the international community and also for your role as Secretary-General. You are now halfway through your term as Secretary-General. In what way do you take this criticism towards the UN and you as a leader?
SG: As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and more generally as a high public official, I know that I am subject to scrutiny. In that regard, I accept all criticisms and I welcome them. Personally, I admit that it doesn't feel good to be criticized sometimes, but I am always looking to improve my role and my performance as Secretary-General, as a public official, to serve the international community. I welcome those criticisms when they are constructive.
We are now facing multiple crises. I know there are many different peoples, many different countries who have different expectations of the United Nations' role in addressing all these challenges. These challenges should be addressed together with the Member States. The United Nations is an inter-governmental body consisting of 192 nations who all come from different backgrounds, different resources and have different political agendas. The United Nations is the forum where we can all discuss our different agendas towards a very harmonious resolution for the common well being and the common prosperity of the world.
People know that the United Nations is front and centre right now in addressing all these multiple crises. The facts speak for themselves. We have more peacekeeping operations than any time in the history of the United Nations. We are maintaining more than one hundred and fifteen thousand peacekeepers in 18 different missions around the world, where the Norwegian people have been courageously contributing and participating - even with sacrifices. We are pushing for solutions of the financial and economic crisis and, again, the whole world should be united in addressing this. We are now addressing this H1N1 influenza pandemic. This is the first time in 40 years.
All these are multiple crises that we are facing. If you look at the individual crises, even one of these five crises may require the whole world's resources and political will. But the problem is that all these multiple crises are hitting us, all together at once. Therefore, I know that it would be natural that the international community expects much more from the United Nations [in facing] these crises. I need some support from the Member States of the United Nations and from the international community as a whole to work together with the United Nations. I will be committed as always to working together with your countries.
Now, it would also be natural to expect that while the United Nations is an inter-governmental body, you come with different background, you come with all different leadership style, you come with all different resources. Therefore, we need to be harmonious and we have to be able to respect the culture, tradition and leadership style of each and every leader. This is very important.
This is the forum where all discuss and produce harmonious results. That is exactly the strength of the United Nations. I am very much encouraged by the strong support of the Norwegian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the people [of Norway] and I will continue to work together with you. Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the Norwegian UN Ambassador, Mona Juul, has called you non - charismatic and hot-tempered person with no leadership qualities and she points out especially the failure in addressing the problems in Burma, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Do you agree that you have failed to address the problems in those countries?
SG: About this charisma and leadership style, I have been saying that different circumstances may require different leadership styles and different charisma. I have my own charisma. I have my own leadership style. This is what you can find with all different leaders, all different individuals.
On specific conflict issues, like in Myanmar or in Sri Lanka or in Sudan, or elsewhere, you can see all the different backgrounds, historical, political backgrounds of these issues.
We have been working very closely with all Member States, particularly the Norwegian Government. The Norwegian Government has been working as a co-Chair to bring a peace agreement in Sri Lanka. That was widely appreciated and respected.
The Norwegian Government has been participating in the Group of Friends of Myanmar, together with me. I have been chairing these meetings and on basis of the good offices role mandated by the General Assembly, I have visited Myanmar twice and I have met Senior General Than Shwe three times. I have laid out a very strong message, straightforward, directly to the Senior General and even to the general public, [saying] what expectations we have for the Myanmar people. We were able to open up this society so that humanitarian assistance could flow smoothly. Last year, in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, together with the international community, particularly led by the Norwegian Government, we were able to save at least a half million [people] during the cyclone. Now, we need to work more for the democratization of Myanmar. I have made it quite clear, publicly and privately, that this election in 2010 must be a fair and credible and inclusive one. For that, all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, should be released. I am working very hard to keep up pressure on the commitments they made and you have my full commitment on that.
On Sri Lanka again, I have made it quite clear to President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa that even though the fighting might be over, there are much more important things to be done. There is political reconciliation and reaching out to minority groups, including the Tamils, therefore, including the process for the accountability for any violation of international human rights law, international humanitarian laws. They must take all necessary measures. I have met already President Rajapaksa several times. I have called him to follow up my commitment after my visit.
Thank you very much.
Off-the-Cuff on 31 August 2009