Secretary-General's press encounter with Austrian Foreign Minister, Ursula Plassnik
Vienna, Austria, 22 February 2007SG: Thank you very much, Minister Plassnik.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be back to Vienna and to meet with all of you. I have already recognized some familiar faces; some are new friends. I have a special attachment to Austria and Austrian people. I have enjoyed my Ambassadorship here. In fact, that was my first Ambassadorship and the last Ambassadorship. (laughing)
So you remember me. It's the only country where I served in my entire life of 37 years as a diplomat. I want to focus attention to express my sincere appreciation for all contributions the Austrian Government and people have been making to international peace and prosperity. We are very much grateful for the generous hosting by the Austrian Government of the United Nations Office in Vienna. This is one of the UN offices we have around the world. This, I understand, is one of the biggest UN offices.
As a leading member of the European Union, but also on her own, Austria has made some great contributions to international peace and security. Austria is one of the strongest supporters of effective and strong multilateralism, and I have deep admiration and respect for what you have been doing. And at the same time, Austria has been playing an important role in this part of the world as a leading country for regional partnership initiative. In fact, I am looking forward to meeting all of the foreign ministers of this regional partnership initiative, and I thank you very much for your thoughtful invitation and arrangement for this matter.
I had a very good meeting with Minister Plassnik, covering wide ranging issues - global and regional issues. As the Minister has just mentioned, we discussed the Iranian nuclear issue and overall non-proliferation issues, Kosovo's future status and the Middle East, and the stronger partnership between the United Nations and the European Union, and also Austria. We also discussed all these other global issues, like the Millennium Development Goals. I have asked for the Austrian Government's and European Union's complete support and a leading role in furthering these Millennium Development Goals to the final target year of 2015.
We also discussed the very important and urgent issue of climate change. We hope that the international community will be able to make necessary preparations for the plan for 2012-Kyoto. So thank you very much for all this.
With these brief remarks I would like to thank you for all the support you have given me and the office of the Secretary-General. Personally I owe you a great deal for your strong support during the campaign process, which elected me as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I feel it is a great personal honour, at the same time if I want to become a very successful Secretary-General I need [your] strong support and, that of the Austrian people and Government.
Thank you very much.
SPOKESMAN OF THE FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you Secretary-General. [in German: opens the floor to questions]
Q: Welcome back, Mr. Secretary-General, toVienna. I just wonder, Mr. Secretary-General, are you considering taking matters into your own hands with regard to Iran, and perhaps even considering travelling to Iran. And on a related matter, do you see a double standard in the dealings of the international community with North Korea in the nuclear issue as opposed to the dealing with Iran? Thank you very much.
Q: Madame Minister, you have surely spoken with the UN Secretary-General about the peace process in the Middle East. Can you briefly inform us?[inaudible]...?
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on the Kosovo issue. How durable at this stage do you see the proposed solution? And have you received a copy of the Ahtisaari report?
SG: Three questions, OK. On this Iranian nuclear issue, I am deeply concerned that the Iranian Government did not meet the deadline set by the Security Council. In fact, this has been in the hands of the Security Council; the Security Council has adopted sanctions measures against Iran. We hoped that the Iranian Government would have fully complied with all these resolutions adopted by the Security Council. Now, as the IAEA Director-General is going to make his report to the Security Council, I understand that the Security Council Member States will handle and discuss this issue again. The Iranian nuclear issue has great implications for peace and stability, as well as for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I urge again that the Iranian Government fully comply with the Security Council as soon as possible and engage in continued negotiation with the international community so that we will be able to address and peacefully resolve this issue.
Now, on the North Korean nuclear issue. We were very much encouraged by the recent agreement during the Six Party process on January 30th. It was an encouraging development in the situation. It was a very important step forward in implementing the joint statement adopted in September 2005. While the joint statement of 2005 was based on a commitment in words, this time this commitment is based on action-for-action. North Korea has committed to dismantle eventually all nuclear weapon facilities and materials. This is a great step forward toward the full and final denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. I hope this will also give some good lessons to the Iranian authorities that it is always better, always desirable, to resolve all of the issues through dialogue.
On the peace process in the Middle East, we had a very useful and constructive Quartet Meeting yesterday, among the United Nations, United States, Russia and European Union. We agreed that while we appreciate the role of the King of Saudi Arabia, and also welcome these diplomatic initiatives, particularly at Mecca, it is important at this time that the international community encourage this peace process which will facilitate dialogue and negotiations between the parties concerned.
At the same time, while this national unity government is not yet in place, we will have to closely monitor how the Palestinian people, after establishing this national unity government will fully comply with the principles set out by the Quartet, namely the recognition of the right of Israel and the cessation of violence and adherence to all previous agreements and obligations agreed with the international community. In sum, I think the international community should fully utilize all these ongoing diplomatic initiatives. There was a Mecca deal; this Quartet process has been re-energized, Arab countries are now taken on-board and we need to encourage all this process so that we will be able to see peace and security in the Middle East.
And on Kosovo my Special Representative on the future status of Kosovo is now having consultations with the parties on this issue. He has been laboriously discussing this matter with all the parties concerned. I understand that after listening to their views until the middle of March, he is going to present officially his proposals to the Security Council. At this time it is desirable for the international community not to lose the momentum thus far created for this Kosovo issue. We need to support all these ongoing consultations by Mr. Ahtisaari. We will closely discuss and consult on this matter. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER: Just to add one word on the Quartet meeting. I had a word this morning with [German Foreign Minister] Frank Walter Steinmeier to brief a little bit in advance of our meeting and in addition to what the Secretary-General just said, I think it is important that Europe is visible and is active in the Middle East peace process in order to promote a political process and it is therefore important that the German President has so firmly committed to creating a process with Quartet. This is the second meeting of the Quartet already within a few weeks and there is a plan for involving the regional partners in the Middle East more closely. There is the plan for holding quite soon a meeting in the region. And I think this is an important element to develop a joint choreography. The momentum has to come from the Israeli Palestinian situation, but partners in the region and the international community have to act simultaneously to pick up necessary elements for a political process.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General. On the Darfur situation, do you see any prospect of there being a sizeable United Nations troop presence any time soon in Darfur's neighbourhood?
Q: I wanted to ask Mr. Secretary-General, how do you see as UN Secretary-General that individual UN members that are members of the Security Council openly threaten other UN members with armed violence and are obviously prepared to take unilateral measures outside UN resolutions? ??. And beyond that, threatening to attack nuclear facilities that are especially protected under international law.
Q: I would have a follow-up question on Iran. The Security Council demands have not been met by Iran. And do you think there has to be some follow up action by the Security Council on not meeting the deadline, and what kind of action would that be? I mean do you prefer more sanctions? What or how do you feel in this situation?
SG: On Darfur issues?my special envoy on Darfur issues, Mr. Jan Eliasson and African Union special envoy Mr. Salim (Ahmed) Salim were in Sudan, meeting with President [Omar Al-]Bashir and representatives of non-signatories to the DPA, the Darfur Peace Agreement. The meeting was generally good and I sent my letter last month, January 24, outlining more in detail about the force generation and command control to have a heavy support package to the African mission. Now I have requested very strongly that President Bashir agree to my letter [on the heavy support package which will enable the early deployment] of a hybrid African Union and UN peacekeeping operations there.
There are two tracks that are still going on, even though we have not yet finally agreed. One is the political process; a political dialogue process is going on at the highest level, including myself. And secondly, peacekeeping operation level is now being discussed. The United Nations will soon engage in detailed negotiations with African Union representatives and I'm also going to meet with the African Union Commissioner. And I have been constantly involved in this process. We have also been trying to resolve this issue of humanitarian assistance problems. There are still many people who are suffering because of the inaccessibility of the humanitarian community. I have strongly urged the Sudanese Government to allow this humanitarian assistance to be resumed.
This week I have submitted my report and recommendations to the Security Council requesting an 11,000-strong peacekeeping operation to be deployed along regions in Chad and the Central African Republic that are bordering with Sudan. There are many refugees and the situation is very much fragile there. We are working very hard to deploy this peacekeeping operation in Darfur.
On the Iranian issue, I'm sure that members of the Security Council will discuss what measures they will take in addition to what they have taken last December. As the Director General of the IAEA is finally going to report his recommendations to the Security Council, it is now up to the members of the Security Council to determine what kind of measures they will take in the future.
Thank you very much.