Secretary-General's press encounter with the President of Switzerland
Bern, 17 October 2011Merci Madame la Présidente,
Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs,
Je suis très heureux d'être parmi vous ce matin.
It is a pleasure to be in Switzerland at this time.
I have had very good talks with President Calmy-Rey, members of the Swiss Government and other senior officials.
And thank you for your very kind hospitality and your leadership, not only as a President of Switzerland but also as a strong leader of the United Nations. Thank you very much.
We covered a wide range of issues this morning, including the dramatic changes of the Arab Spring, our push for the Millennium Development Goals, next year's Rio + 20 conference on sustainable development, and the ongoing global economic turmoil, and the mediation capacity-building of the United Nations, and including all other peace and security matters. And we also briefly discussed this financial crisis in Europe.
I took the opportunity to thank the President for Switzerland's contributions to the United Nations.
Switzerland is a major UN Headquarters. And I would like to particularly thank Switzerland for its very generous contribution to the Strategic Heritage Plan for renovating the UN Headquarters in Geneva. Your contribution in the amount of CHF 50 million is very helpful in our continuing efforts.
It is also a role model for many countries in terms of democratic governance. I hope Switzerland will be a big part of international assistance for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa that are looking to the United Nations for help in ensuring smooth transitions. We are all aware that it will take hard work to transform their aspirations into sustainable and inclusive governance.
I would also like to say a special word of thanks to President Calmy-Rey.
Madame President, I know that this may be the last time we meet in Switzerland before you retire from Presidency in December, after such a long distinguished service.
We have worked well together over the past five years, while I was Secretary-General of the UN, but you had worked many, many years before that.
I have appreciated your strong personal commitment and support to all the issues on which we have worked very closely. I would particularly appreciate your active participation, with your wisdom and expertise, to the very successful ongoing discussions on how [to] strengthen our capacity and contribution to sustainable development, as a member of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which will be a top priority for the United Nations.
And I welcome the way you have helped Switzerland to increase its presence internationally and at the United Nations since becoming a full member state nine years ago.
I will miss your presence, but I am sure your engagement in world affairs will continue. The United Nations will look forward to working with you, fully utilizing your experience and wisdom.
I wish you well, and look forward to working with your successor.
We face big challenges. I am working hard to strengthen the United Nations and modernize our operations. Our goal is to better respond to the needs of the world's people.
I know I can count on Switzerland to help us advance to a better future.
Thank you very much.
Tout de bon Madame la Présidente.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, my name is Hans [inaudible], with German public radio Zurich, you mentioned last night that we do not only have a serious financial crisis but mentioned particularly the erosion in trust. How serious is this meltdown of trust and is one explanation that people feel institutions and governments cannot deliver anymore, as you put it, that maybe there is an asymmetric pattern that financial markets nowadays decide in nanoseconds, whereas politicians decide in days, weeks, months, sometimes years. [inaudible] Could that be one explanation? Thank you.
SG: Two, three weeks before I attend the Cannes G-20 Summit meeting, I just wanted to convey my strong message to the leaders of G-20, that business-as-usual or just looking at their own domestic economic issues will not give any answers to the current very serious international economic crisis. G-20 leaders have a very broad and important, crucial, responsibility to perform, not only their own economies, but the global economies. That is the main purpose G-20 was created [for] immediately after the first financial crisis. That is why I said to restore confidence and trust from the people, from the market. The leaders should look beyond their national borders. They should not haggle over all these domestic regional interests. They have to come out with a broader perspective to save this world. We have to really address this issue with a sense of flexibility and compromise, and come out with actionable plans. That is what the people are hoping to see. That is what you are seeing all around the world, starting from Wall Street. People are showing their frustrations by trying to send a very clear and unambiguous message to the world. I really wanted to send my personal message to all the leaders. They make up 80 per cent of the world's GDP and 85 per cent of the world's population. At the same time, they should never lose sight of [the] billions of people who do not have the capacity, who have simply been affected by all these crises which happened in the developed world. That is my message which I'm trying to convey before I attend this Cannes Summit meeting.
Q: Thank you very much, my name is Xin, I'm from China Central Television, the national television of China. Just now you commended the role that Switzerland has played as a very recent member of the United Nations. Are you also looking forward to a similar role maybe, to a different role that the Palestinian people can play in the United Nations. How long do you think we can wait until that day happens and where are we now?
SG: The Palestinian people have been suffering during the last, over six decades. First of all they have not been able to enjoy genuine freedom and socio-economic support, and human rights. We have to support their genuine aspirations to become an independent state, a sovereign state, as part of a two-State solution were Palestinians and Israelis can live side-by-side in peace and security. This relationship between Palestinians and Israelis, under peace and stability, will have very serious and important implications for [the] overall Middle-East peace process. That is why the United Nations has been working very hard. The United Nations has been taking numerous resolutions, both at the General Assembly and at the Security Council. In that regard, I fully support all this, what they are trying to do. But what I'd like to emphasize at this time, as a Secretary-General of the UN, and also as a member of the Quartet; that all their genuine aspirations would be better served if they come out from this negotiated settlement. That is what I fully believe and I will continue to work on that basis.
The recent announcement, particularly on this exchange or prisoners-- that is very welcome. And I sincerely hope that this will give some positive momentum for their relationship for peace and security. And I am going to continue to work towards that direction.
Q: [Inaudible] Mr. Ban Ki-moon, I'm Jennifer Freedman with Bloomberg News. Two questions: I'd like to know whether there are any grounds for sanctions against Iran, following the Saudi murder plots and even crime aside, do you feel that Iran broke any UN treaties for this plot?
SG: On any possible sanction, this is not what I am able to answer. First of all, what I can tell you is that I have received correspondences from both United States, Iran, and also the Saudi Government. I have conveyed all these correspondences to the Security Council for their consideration, and I will have to see what the discussions will be at the Security Council.
Q: Thank you. John Heilprin, Associated Press. Two quick questions: one is? the Human Rights Council has been quite active this year. What more on Syria would you like to see? Second question is, you first term, Mr. Secretary General, was dominated by climate issues and second term, sustainable development. What more do you think, as you head to the G-20, would you like to see them signal to the world, ahead of the talks in South Africa. And as you leave the Swiss capital, is there any examples that you can pick-up from Switzerland as you head there?
SG: The Human Rights Council has taken very important and decisive actions by establishing an International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. I have been discussing this matter with President Assad several times before and I have been urging him to accept this International Commission of Inquiry mandated by the Human Rights Council. [A] humanitarian mission was received by the Syrian Government a month ago. They have found that -- they were very much appalled by the continuous killing of civilian population. And I have been urging the civilian authorities, including President Assad, and the Foreign Minister, that this killing must stop. Immediately. And he has to engage in dialogue, inclusive dialogue. And take decisive action, political reforms, before it is too late. And it is a totally unacceptable situation that more than 3,000 people have been killed. There is some argument by the Syrian Government that many more Syrian national security forces members were also killed. Whatever the case may be, both by the civilians or by the national forces, the killing of people is not acceptable. That must stop. To enable such kind of transition, he must be able to agree and to engage in dialogue, as he had pledged before. At this time, I am urging him again to take more decisive action and accept this Human Rights Council's Inquiry Commission as soon as possible, to find out the exact situation there. If they are arguing that more security people were killed, then the Human Rights Council's Inquiry Commission can verify it. So it is a very good opportunity for them to make their position known to the international community, rather than just closing their society and continuing to kill their own people.
And on the sustainable development and climate change: climate change will be a crucially important part of broader discussions of sustainable development. We have been dealing with climate change, food security, water scarcity, energy shortages, and global health issues, and gender empowerment issues. All these look distinct, different. But if you look at all the root causes, all these issues, they are all interconnected. Therefore we need to link all these dots, among six global challenges. That is the basic concept of sustainable development. Sustainable development will be a top priority of the United Nations for the coming, many, many years, particularly during my second term as Secretary-General. The Rio+20 should be a great success. I have asked President Calmy-Rey that the Swiss Government should be represented at the highest level next year. We have to make this a success.
Now, most importantly and urgently, in Durban, we have to make again successful progress, and must build on all these decisions made in Cancun in December last year. We [had] good discussions, a good agreement on deforestation, adaptation, and technological transfer, as well as climate change financing. We have a Green Climate Fund, and I would like to appreciate the Swiss Government for their own contribution by convening, three times, ministerial meetings on these climate funding issues. We have to agree and make some very important progress on this climate change financing and we have to make clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol before it will expire by next December.
Q: Monsieur le Secrétaire général, comme vous le savez, cette année a commencé un dialogue entre Kosovo et Serbie mais la situation dans la région, surtout à Mitrovica, est très fragile. L'ONU à-t'elle une stratégie pour résoudre ce problème? Ou bien l'ONU accepte-t-elle un changement territorial entre Sud de la Serbie, vallée de Mecevo avec Mitrovica? Parce vous avez rencontré pendant le débat à l'Assemblée générale? Pendant le débat à l'Assemblée-générale vous avez rencontré la délégation Kosovare, le Président du Kosovo, à New York. Merci.
SG: I have met during the General Assembly representatives of both Kosovo and Serbia and I have been urging them to resolve all these pending issues and I have told them that it is unacceptable that the security situation would develop into such a tense situation on the boarder-blockade issues. I know all this has many complex historical and political issues. All these issues should be discussed through dialogue in a harmonious way. The General Assembly has mandated and supported the EU-led dialogue. There have been discussions on this matter. I sincerely hope that all these issues should be discussed through dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo authorities, with the EU facilitating this matter. The United Nations will continue to provide all this political and technical assistance. Thank you.