Secretary-General's Press Conference with the President of the European Parliament
Strasbourg, France, 19 October 2010I thank you Mr. President of the European Parliament. Ladies and gentlemen of the media, Good afternoon, bonjour.
I am pleased to be joined by President Buzek of the European Parliament. It was a great honour for me and the United Nations to address the distinguished members of the European Parliament.
I want to first of all to thank President Buzek for his very kind invitation to me and for his hospitality, as well as his vision and his commitment to work together with the United Nations. As he said, and as I have written in the golden book, the European Union and the United Nations are natural allies in addressing all the issues: global, regional and development and protecting human rights around the world. In this regard, President Buzek and the European Union are the leaders on issues across the board – and we are grateful for that.
You heard my speech this morning so I won't give another one. Let me just say, the United Nations enjoys excellent relationship with the European Parliament as our strongest partner. Without such generous and strong commitments of the European Union, it would be very difficult for the United Nations to discharge our mandate to meet the expectations of the international community in every aspect of our agenda.
Our partnership is delivering results on the ground around the world.
We are working together to advance peace and security, human rights, development. These are three major pillars of the United Nations Charter.
Our relationship should continue to grow as the European Parliament takes on growing responsibilities and a rising role as a result of the Lisbon Treaty.
I am honoured to have this chance to discuss in practical and direct terms about the next steps for realizing our vision of a stronger European Union and a better world.
There are many important avenues of opportunity: economic development and recovery, climate change and disarmament, and realizing a world free of nuclear weapons.
There is also the issue of managing diversity within – the challenge of inclusion and opportunity for all in Europe, which I addressed today.
I urged Europeans not to give in to the siren songs of suspicion -- populists who are trying to find someone to blame for economic hard times.
They will only blow you off course from the values you -- and we -- hold dear.
We are living in an interconnected world with interconnected challenges.
No country or region can do it alone.
We are living in an era of multiple crises, multiple challenges. These require global solidarity and a global collective response.
But if we share in the burden, we will share in the benefits.
President Buzek, thank you once again. Ladies and gentlemen I will be happy to answer some of your questions. Thank you.
Q: Do you think you can succeed to contribute in the talks that are going on right now on the future of Cyprus to find a way so that the principles of human rights of the European Union and the United Nations will be safeguarded and not pushed a little bit away so that reunification could work efficiently? [?] You talked also very much about climate change. After what happened in France, Russia, China and elsewhere do you think it is time for the UN to work with the EU and others on extreme weather phenomenon?
SG: Thank you for your questions on very important matters. First of all on Cyprus, it has been a little over 2 years since the leaders of both communities have engaged in direct negotiations at the leaders' level. The United Nations, through my own engagement, and my Special Adviser Alexander Downer, [?] have been working very hard in close consultation not only with the two leaders but also leaders of concerned parties. It has been encouraging that leaders have been meeting more than 80 times in direct talks and they have recently begun to discuss one of the most complex issues: property. They have both presented concrete proposals. I hope they will be able to resolve these long standing issues. I think one of the longest standing issues in Europe at this time [is] to resolve this issue to mutual satisfaction and agreement. The opening of a recent crossing between the two communities – Limnitis -, this is also a good sign of their commitment to move ahead. I have been urging in my meetings with the two leaders -- President Christofias of Cyprus and also Mr. Eroglu of the Turkish Cypriot community -- that it is now time to make decisions, to make an agreement. During the last two years they have opened all their positions, all their cards. What I said is that the cards are open on their table and now it is time to fold whatever cards can be met together and make decisions on the basis of compromise, flexibility and most of all the long vision for their future. This is what I am going to continue to work [on] together [with them]. In this case the European Union´s role will be crucially important and I have been discussing this matter with European leaders.
Moving to another issue, climate change. As I mentioned extensively in my earlier statement, the Copenhagen Accord may not be a perfect one, but it has brought us very important elements on which we can build. During the last year after Copenhagen, we have been working on the basis of a strategy of making some tangible progress on sectoral issues. First of all, we have made tangible progress on [the issue of] deforestation and forest degradation. We are making progress in financial support for developing countries. We are making progress in adaptation, technology and also capacity building. These are five areas we hope that we will build up on more in Cancun. It is not likely that we will be able to have a global agreement, a comprehensive binding global agreement in Cancun, but we have to make progress wherever and whenever it is possible to build upon on this Copenhagen Accord, the elements which have been reached out among the leaders and I am going to participate myself and I will continue such efforts. The European Union has been the leader and champion and I really appreciate such strong financial and political support -- starting from $10 billion that they promised last year in Copenhagen as a part of fast-track support for developing countries.
Q: [question in Spanish on migration]
SG: We are living in an era of globalization and, through globalization era or during this globalization era, through progress in technology and communication and information and transportation, we have seen an increasing trend of mobility, in human mobility. So it is a natural trend that we are now experiencing, everywhere around the world. Therefore, it is very important that people in the host country or people who are moving to another country should also respect the cultural diversity in the country -- in the place where they are accommodated. I firmly believe in cultural diversity. At the same time, the integration of immigrants in the host society, should also be based on mutual respect for cultural diversity. With all the economic globalization, there are many countries who need [the] support of migrant workers. That is why the United Nations has taken the initiative in the last three years to convene an international forum for migration for development. We are now exchanging views on how the international community can address these issues. And as I said in my speech, we hope that the basic human rights of these migrant workers and immigrants should be respected, as part of universal human rights. Thank you.
Q: [inaudible question on Liu Xiaobo and the Secretary-General's statement on his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize]
SG: I have already issued a statement on this Nobel Peace Prize. I am sure that you have seen it. I believe that my statement has received wide support. The point which you raise, your quotes, there may be some very small part of such views, but as I said in my statement, this award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu Xiaobo of China is a recognition of a growing international consensus for improving human rights practices and culture around the world. I have also consistently emphasized the importance of human rights along with development and peace and security as three main pillars of the United Nations. At the same time, I would like to take note of what China has achieved recently in economic advances by lifting millions of people out of poverty and also, they have been trying to broaden their political participation and steadily joined the international mainstream in its adherence to recognized human rights rules and frameworks and instruments. This is what I said basically. At the same time, I sincerely hope that any differences on this decision should not detract [from] our attention and our commitment to advance human rights, and at the same time, [from] the high prestige and inspirational power of the Nobel Peace Prize?thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the UN fact-finding mission was widely attacked for its report on the flotilla for Gaza when it published its report a few weeks ago. How do you comment on these criticisms and how do you comment on the negotiations initiated by the US to encourage peace in the region between Palestine and Israel?
SG: As you know I have established my own flotilla Commission of Inquiry which is now working with [... ] representatives from both Israel and Turkey participating. They have already started their work, they are now still working, and I am now expecting their report to be submitted to me as soon as possible. I have been discussing this matter with Israeli leaders and Turkish leaders. Their national investigation report should be submitted as soon as possible so that these panel members could analyze and discuss and liaise on what has happened. This is what I can tell you at this time. Thank you.
Off-the-Cuff on 19 October 2010