Secretary-General's press encounter with German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier [unofficial transcript]
Berlin, Germany, 21 February 2007SG: Thank you, Minister Steinmeier. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure for me to visit Germany again, after my first visit in December last year, but this time in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
I appreciate the role and contribution that Germany has been making to all activities of the United Nations including the development strategies for developing countries in meeting the target of Millennium Development Goals. We have very good discussions and as Germany is undertaking the leadership role as Presidency of the European Union and the G8 Presidency, I have asked Minister Steinmeier to continue Germany's initiative and leading role in closely cooperating with the United Nations.
The strong partnership between the United Nations and the European Union will be essentially important in meeting all the challenges which we are now facing at this time. In relation to what the Minister mentioned on these regional issues, I stress the importance of closely cooperating between United Nations and Germany and particularly the continuing leadership role of Germany as well as the European Union in meeting the target of Millennium Development Goals by 2015. And this year marks the median, mid-point year of the road to 2015.
We hope that the European Union will continue to play a leading role, a reformative role, of bringing all these international communities participation in this very important role. I also appreciate the very strong support that Germany has been supporting my reform proposals in trying to make the United Nations more efficient and effective and relevant in addressing all the changes which we are facing at this time.
And I am very much happy to be part of this Quartet and we will continue to analyze the situation and try to help to encourage this peace process in the Middle East which has very great implications for world peace and security. I assure you of my full support and commitment in working very closely with the European Union as well as all other communities of the international community as Secretary-General of the UN. Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General. What makes you hopeful that this session of the Middle East Quartet will provide, will achieve, some results after almost five more or less unsuccessful years?
SG: Peace and security in the Middle East has been long standing and unresolved. This has great, very serious and important implications for world peace and security, not only the situation in the Middle East. We were encouraged by the recent diplomatic initiatives including the most recent Mecca deal, as well as the trilateral meeting among the United States, Palestinian Authority and Israel, though this process may be very sensitive and may be very difficult because of the very complex nature of the situation. However at this time, it would be crucially important for the international community to encourage this Mecca deal and this ongoing diplomatic initiative in the Middle East. We hope that, through our Quartet meeting this afternoon, we will first be able to analyze the situation of the Mecca deal, as well as the trilateral meeting. We hope to be briefed by Secretary Rice about her meeting with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. I know that this will be again a very difficult process but, this time, what we need to do is to encourage the parties concerned, and participants should try to encourage and try to make the sort of framework to support such kind of peace process.
Q: [translated from German] It's about the seventy-year old German woman called Renate Hong, about whom the German media has reported a lot over the last few days. For instance the day before yesterday, the newspaper Taggespiegel wrote an extensive story on its third page. It was about [the German inaudible] but nevertheless respecting human rights and also humanitarian protection areas and the important tasks of the United Nations and the German Government. Renate Hong married a North Korean in 1960 and in 1961 her husband had to return to North Korea. That was forced repatriation. And she hasn't seen her husband since. I have to once again point out that Frau Hong, since their forced separation, has tried to establish contact with her husband, up to now without success.
I appreciate the work of the UN and therefore I would like to ask Mr. Ban and Mr. Steinmeier to comment on this issue. Thank you.
SG: Thank you very much for raising this issue. I'm very much impressed by your German. I thought you would speak in either English or Korean. I'm aware of Frau Renate Hong's case and I'm also a little encouraged by the recent development in this case with the active intervention and support of the Red Cross societies of Germany and Korean Red Cross. This is a humanitarian issue, this is nothing to do with any ideology or political issues and unfortunately because of the situation coming from the division of Korea there are still many people who are suffering from this separation of families. This Renate Hong case is one of them, but as this is gaining [inaudible] a foreigner German citizen this has much more to be resolved with the help of the international community. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will do whatever I can when I return to the UN. I will discuss this matter with my advisors and do my best efforts to facilitate the reunion of separated families. Thank you.
Q: This a question to both the German Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General about the Iranian atomic programme. What do you think about the offer of talks from Iran and today, with the forthcoming deadline? What sanctions are possible?
SG: The Iranian nuclear issue is another very serious concern to the international community. As the Secretary-General of the UN, I also have been trying to be a help in resolving this issue as much as I can. The international community was reasonably encouraged by the recent agreement on the North Korean nuclear issue through the Six-Party Process. We must address this issue as soon as possible. I met the Iranian authorities, including the Foreign Minister, several times and in my capacity as Secretary-General, I had also a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minster. I urged him to continue to resolve this issue through negotiations with the international community, particularly led by the European Union. And this issue is basically in the hands of the Security Council. The Security Council has adopted a sanction measure in December last year. I understand that some members of the Security Council are still trying to discuss this matter on what further measures should be taken by the Security Council [if the] Iranian Government does not fully comply with the Security Council decisions. Again, taking this opportunity, I would strongly urge the Iranian authorities to comply, first of all fully with the Security Council resolution, and continue to negotiate with the international community. Thank you very much.