Secretary-General's joint press conference with Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe [Secretary-General's remarks only]
Strasbourg, France, 19 October 2010SG: Ladies and gentlemen of the media.
It is a great pleasure for me to visit Strasbourg on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the Convention on Human Rights. I'm also very pleased to visit Strasbourg which is the seat of several Europeans great democratic institutions.
I thank you, Secretary-General Jagland of the Council of Europe, for this invitation and great hospitality and courtesies. I'm very much honored to have addressed the Council of Europe on this very solemn and important occasion. Mr Jagland has been a leader and champion of upholding and promoting human rights and I am committed to working very closely with him and the members of the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe has played an important role in safeguarding human rights in this region. Human rights are also at the centre of all our work at the United Nations. The world today presents the many serious human rights challenges. I believe we can meet these by consistently and universally applying our principles. Democratic countries should lead by example, and the European Union, European Council of Europe, have a very special role to play in leading this campaign.
I strongly support the Council of Europe's latest statements on the treatment of migrants here in Europe. The United Nations welcomes the Council's convening of tomorrow's meeting to discuss the integration of Roma people in Europe.
I hope governments will take this opportunity to reaffirm their commitments to the implementing the highest standards of human rights for everyone everywhere. I have more to say on migration in my remarks to the European Parliament later today.
I also wish to stress again the importance of defending the human rights defenders, civil society leaders and your colleagues in the media, who are often in the forefront of exposing human rights abuses, we owe these brave people a great debt.
I thank again the Council of Europe for hosting me here and for its many contributions to the United Nations agenda. Thank you very much and I'll be happy to answer some of your questions.
Q: [inaudible question on the FYROM name issue]
Secretary-General: Thank you very much. I've had an opportunity of meeting Foreign Minister Milososki last month in the United Nations and I had the opportunity of having engaged in various issues in this region with President Ivanov yesterday at Secretary-General Jagland's dinner, and I have listened very carefully [to] what he said this morning. As far as this name issue is concerned, the United Nations has been taking initiatives in trying to facilitate the harmonious resolution of this name issue. I know that there are historical and political backgrounds on this issue and my Special Envoy Mr. Nimetz has been visiting and meeting the leaders of both FYROM and Greece and it is my sincere hope that through this facilitation this name issue will soon be resolved to mutual agreement. I met the Greek leadership and I had been meeting the leadership of both countries and it is important that all these differences of opinions, wherever it may be based, should be resolved as soon as possible in a harmonious way. Thank you very much.
Q: You mentioned that European Countries do not enough for criticizing migrant workers. Do you have any specific countries in mind or what do you suggest those European countries should do?
SG: I have made it quite clear in my earlier statement, while I fully appreciate and command the commitment and leadership role of European countries in defending and promoting human rights, these human rights should be promoted and protected regardless of any background of people. So there should be no discrimination. Human Rights are human rights for all. I'm not here to criticize any particular member state of Europe as I have full respect and admiration for what they have achieved so far but in our practical life of reality there may not be such a human rights paradise on earth. But I do expect that European countries --with their political influence, with their economic growth, with their abundant and cultural diversity-- should promote human rights by leading by example, particularly when it comes to migrant workers. We are living in an era of globalization. Through the globalization process, through development of technology, of communication and information, we see increasing number of mobility among people. This is a natural trend. Therefore, for those migrant workers who have been contributing to social economic development, their basic human rights should be supported. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I firmly believe in cultural diversity. And the integration of immigrants in their host society also should be based on mutual respect for cultural diversity. Thank you.
Q: [Question in French on the Nagorno Karabach conflict]
SG: Thank you very much, we have many such regional conflict issues which need to be addressed through dialogue in a peaceful manner. Nagorno Karabach is one of those issues which has been longstanding and it is encouraging that recently we have seen some progress and some dialogue between Turkey and Armenia, and this Task Force group, Minsk Group, have been working very hard. The United Nations is also standing ready to facilitate such kind of resolution of this Nagorno Karabach issue, through dialogue in a peaceful manner. Thank you very much.
Off-the-Cuff on 19 October 2010