Secretary-General's press conference with Peruvian President Alan Garcia
Lima, Peru, 15 February 2011SG: Muchas gracias, Senor Presidente García, por su bienvenida y calida hospitalidad.
(Thank you President Garcia, for your welcome, your hospitality)
Senors y senoras, Buenos dias. Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your very warm welcome and your strong support for me and for the United Nations. I am very grateful for such strong commitment, and I would like to commend your very visionary leadership in making this great country of Peru one of the fastest-growing economies.
Thank you very much again. I am very much flattered by your addressing me as “Dr. Ban Ki-moon”. In fact, I am going to get an honorary doctorate degree from the University of San Marcos this afternoon. Thank you very much for that.
I have been very much grateful for the important subjects which we have discussed this morning. This has been a most productive and useful discussion, on how we can work together to address global challenges and regional issues, including addressing climate change, sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals.
Peru has been, for several years now, the fastest growing country in South America, combining macroeconomic management with low inflation, low fiscal deficits and high international reserves.
In addition, under your mandate, your people have seen significant social progress in reducing poverty. I am grateful for that.
Among the family of nations, Peru can stand proud.
Even more now, after the Nobel Laureate for literature was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa.
I believe the economic successes, together with your efforts in trans-Pacific integration, in addressing climate change and your active policies in closing the digital divide, are examples that provide lessons for all nations.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here once again in Peru.
Que lindo es volver a Perú.
I have visited several times; this is my fourth visit. But despite all this very happy, constructive discussions and hospitality, I have only one regret: I still have not had the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu. Next time, I will make sure that I have time to visit Machu Picchu, the world-known site of the great Inca civilization.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On those marvels from the past, Peru has built a splendid present which includes world class citizens such as my distinguished predecessor, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. I will be very honoured to meet him in person this afternoon.
As you know, my visit was originally planned to coincide with the Summit of South American and Arab countries.
I regret that the Summit has been postponed, owing to regional situations in Arab countries. But I know that you are going to have it later, and I hope that you will have a great Summit meeting.
I decided to come anyway to acknowledge the important contribution your country is making to regional peace and security, by peacefully resolving differences, by supporting the UN Mission in Haiti, and by working with your partners in the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), by assuming the Chair of the UNASUR Defense Council, on regional integration and cooperation, on trade, and defence and by containing military expenditures in the region.
With regard to Haiti, Peru is assisting with 372 military personnel who are playing an important role in stabilizing the country and ensuring the completion of the electoral process.
I would like to highlight the importance you are giving to the participation of women in this mission.
In Peru during the past decade, there has been significant progress in consolidating democracy.
In addition, you are achieving significant progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, especially child mortality, universal access to education and gender parity.
Your challenge now is to spread these gains equally to all your most vulnerable people, particularly in rural areas, where the majority of indigenous peoples live.
Here in Peru – and in other countries in the region – the rights of indigenous people remain an area of concern.
The UN places great importance on fulfilling their legitimate aspirations through consultation and participation.
Peru is an important member of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. I commend your initiative in hosting the first meeting of Latin American countries last December to develop a regional strategy for Intercultural Dialogue and Cooperation.
We live in a changing world with many serious global challenges.
Climate change, energy, food security and water security are growing issues for all countries, however it is important to adopt an integrated approach to ensure sustainable development.
But none of the challenges we face are insurmountable if we take a forward-looking approach – based on the principles of sustainability, equality and human rights.
President Garcia, I wish to commend you on the strong and strategic partnership between the UN and Peru which has been forged over many years and I am convinced will last many more years in the future.
Thank you. Muchas Gracias.
Q: [question in Spanish on activities by Peru to combat poverty and inequality]
SG: The MDGS, the Millennium Development Goals, by which we reduce abject poverty by half by 2015, and provide equal opportunities for education and global sanitation, clean water, environmental sustainability – this is a global challenge and global promise, regardless of who is going to be in power in any country. So whoever will be succeeding President García, he or she should be fully committed to carry out the national development action plans initiated by President García and revised by 2015. This is the political and moral responsibility of any leader in the world. And as the Secretary-General, this has been a tough fight. We have to meet this challenge by 2015. It may be difficult. It is a big challenge. However, with strong political leadership, supported by added financial support and international coordination, I am sure that this can be done.
Q: [question in Spanish about the unrest in the Middle East following the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the humanitarian consequences for Europe in dealing with the migration that has resulted]
SG: During the course of this political and social unrest, asking for more freedom and fuller participation by the people in the Arab world, I have made my position quite clear: that this is an expression of their frustrations, because of the deficit of democracy, not being able to fully participate in socioeconomic development, lack of job opportunities. Therefore, regardless of who or where around the world, leaders should work attentively to listen to the voices of their people, what are their aspirations, what are their concerns, how they can be meeting their promises, political promises, when they were elected by the people, for the [inaudible] of people for democracy, participatory democracy. This is a fundamental principle of democracy. I believe that the voices that have spoken out were a sort of natural condition of democracy. I would again urge the leaders, whoever they are, to listen more attentively and to open up this dialogue channel with the people. That is really important.
About migration, with the dramatic developments of technology and the globalization process, this is again a natural force of development. There is a lot of exchanges and migration between and among countries. As Secretary-General, it is very important that the basic human rights of those migrants should be fully guaranteed. There may be some domestic difficulties; I know that, when a country has been accommodating illegal migrants, unwanted migrants – under such circumstances, their basic human rights should be fully guaranteed and respected. All these administrative issues should be handled more at a political and administrative level. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other leading humanitarian agencies are ready to assist this in course.
Q: [question in Spanish, following up on the previous question by asking how democracy can be applied in South America]
SG: In the past several decades, the Latin American people also experienced difficulties in achieving full democracy. With all the transitions now, Latin America is a place where people can expect full participatory democracy. Elections are now taking place without much problem. Of course, we have seen certain controversies over Presidential elections processes, as we have seen most recently in Haiti. But as Secretary-General, I believe people can expect that democracy will flourish and prosper, with practical and fair, objective elections. The Organization of American States has also played an important role. The United Nations has always been ready to provide technical assistance to the electoral processes. Speaking about the elections in Haiti, after the political controversy, I am pleased to see that the second round of Presidential elections is going to take place on 20 March. Haiti has suffered too much from the earthquake last year, as well as the spread of cholera. Now it is the right time for the Haitian people to overcome these tragedies. Through these very fair and credible elections in March, I hope they will be able to build their country and enjoy genuine democracy and freedoms.
Q: [question in Spanish, about the money spent on military expenditures]
SG: This is one of the subjects, important topics, that I discussed with President García. I highly commend his initiative in calling for restraint for and transparency in military expenditures. In many parts of the world, excessive spending on military expenditures has caused concerns. All this money needs to be reinvested into a more productive way of socioeconomic development. I really appreciate President García´s initiative to establish a regional centre, headquarters, in Lima for international peace and disarmament. The United Nations has a mechanism to reach the Member States, let them report their military budgets and military spending. I sincerely hope that Member States take advantage of this mechanism, where they can not only exchange their military budgets but detail these expenditures in a more transparent manner, so that all these resources can be used for better investment and a better purpose.