Secretary-General's remarks (only) at a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel and President Vicente Fox of Mexico following the Opening Session of the Fourth European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Heads of State Summit
Vienna, Austria, 12 May 2006SG: Thank you very much Chancellor. I am very happy to have had the chance to participate in this meeting and to join European leaders and Latin American and Caribbean leaders as they review issues of common concern. And I think today one of the big challenges we face is the gap between the rich and the poor, the gap between the employed and the unemployed, the youth bulge, which as I indicated we would have about 1.2 billion more young people joining the world in the next decade and they all need jobs -- decent, productive jobs and this is the challenge for the leaders of today and I am sure that they are all focused on it.
And coming in here discussing with the Chancellor, as you heard again, that it is small and medium-sized companies are creating jobs, they create more jobs than the big ones if truth must be told. And in fact, we at the UN did order a study about two years ago about job creation and the conclusion we came to is that one should encourage the formation of small and medium sized companies, particularly in the developing world and others and offer job opportunities for young people. We cannot afford to lose them, we cannot afford to let them turn their backs in a frustrated, despondent manner or to turn to drugs and other activities that we would not want. Let's keep them occupied and productively occupied. Thank you.
Q: If you could have the opportunity to organize one concrete international conflict or crisis, can you tell me which one this would be? The second question is that we have seen this ongoing debate about privatization of gas and oil fields in Venezuela and Bolivia, which the leaders of these countries say are meant to serve the poor, can you tell me about your opinion of these things is?
SG: Today in my statement, I did give you an indication of one of the issues that I think is of great concern - youth and employment, but I presume you are not talking about that, you are talking of real, hot conflicts around the world. I think we should do everything try to find a solution to the stand off with Iran on the nuclear issue - I think the best solution would be a negotiated one and we need to intensify our diplomatic efforts to find a solution and I am glad to see that that is being done.
On the question of nationalization of oil and gas assets in certain countries, obviously we are at a very early stage of this and I do not want to be drawn too much into it without knowing all the details. What I would want to say is that we live in an interdependent world and the global economy is so interconnected that what happens in one country has an impact on the other and what is important is that we manage our economic relations and the resources of a nation in such a way that it does benefit the nation and the people; but the relationship has to be such that the international trade and the exchanges that take place can take place with confidence and investors and others can also assume that the conditions under which they are making an investment will be sustained over the medium to the long term, to get return on their investments.
Without that assurance, we may be disrupting normal economic activity. So whatever arrangements one comes up with between the national government, the local government and international players has to be mutually satisfactory and beneficial.
Q: I have a follow up question for the Secretary-General. Good Morning Sir. I would like to ask you since you have been quoted yesterday as saying that it is important that the Iranians back away from this aggressive position and be open to discussions, whether you would also urge the United States to engage in direct negotiations with Iran? Thank you.
SG: Let me say that I have asked all sides to lower the rhetoric and intensify diplomatic efforts to find a solution. I have also stated very clearly both in private in my contacts with the American administration and publicly that I think it is important that the United States comes to the table and that it should join the European countries and Iran to find a solution because I really believe that as long as the Iranians have a sense that they are negotiating with the Europeans ad referendum and what they discuss with them will have to be checked with the Americans, and then come back again to them, I am not sure they will put everything on the table.
Everyone, every important stakeholder should be at the table and I am happy that the discussions in New York earlier this week seems to have led to a situation where everyone agrees that not only one should come back to the table and negotiate but there should be a comprehensive package proposed for discussions by all and I urge all parties to be open, and Iran included, and come back to the table to find a solution.