Secretary-General's Press Encounter with President Tarja Halonen of Finland
Pori, Finland, 15 July 2011Q: What is the United Nations doing to help people affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa?
SG: I am deeply concerned about the challenges that we have, more than 11 million people are affected by the (inaudible) drought. We have to help them, the people in Kenya, Somalia and other countries, Ethiopia, they are suffering a great deal because of this (drought). I have convened a task force on global food security issues, and we are now mobilizing all necessary support. We have appealed for 1.6 billion dollars, and it has been funded only half. I am urging all major donor countries to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance, and I am also asking Finland, President Halonen. I am here, in fact, to participate in a forum to discuss sustainable development. This food crisis, food security, is a very important element of sustainable development. I count on your leadership and the leadership of the European Union and many donor countries.
Q: In your opinion, how strong a candidate is Finland for the Security Council in 2013?
SG: Finland is important, a strong partner of the United Nations. They have been providing strong support to the United Nations in development and human rights, and also peacekeeping operations. But, to be frank, this is in the hands of the Member States. I sincerely hope that the President and the Foreign Minister, Ambassadors, all diplomats, will work very closely with the Member States.
Q: What is your big priority?
SG: Sustainable development is the top priority of the United Nations and the international community. This is exactly what the United Nations and the international community has been working very hard on. I am going to discuss this with the President. She is now working as a co-chair all of the future of our world is in the hands of President Halonen. We have to work to address climate change, the food crisis, energy shortages, water scarcity, global health, gender empowerment: all are interconnected. And I hope that we will have very good discussions as a way of raising the awareness of the international community.
President Halonen: Mr. Secretary-General, the issue of the food security was also very much in the Finnish media, because one of our ferries, (inaudible) was there in Operation Atalanta, just in order to safeguard the food imports to the region. And I think we succeeded quite well in that. But of course, the crisis is not over. It is worse. And that's why, of course, all this discussion is very welcome. But I think it tells very well the situation at the UN, that among all these crises, we should also find the time, efforts and resources for sustainable development, because we cannot wait for more people to (inaudible). Thank you very much. Thank you.
Q: Is this your first time in Finland?
SG: This is my second time in Finland, and my first time in Pori. I am very delighted to visit this city of jazz and summer light. And I hope I will have some time to relax a little!
President Halonen: We will have. We will have. Thank you very much.
SG: Yes, I would like that very much.