Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press conference with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria, 5 May 2011

SG: Dober den. [Good afternoon.]

Let me begin by thanking Prime Minister Borisov and the people of Bulgaria for the warmth and hospitality shown to me and my delegation.

I am truly honoured to be the first UN Secretary-General to visit Bulgaria since the country's transition to democracy.

This visit is made even more special by being here as you celebrate the Day of Saint George and the Day of the Bulgarian Armed Forces tomorrow.

Prime Minister Borisov and I have had constructive discussions on a wide range of issues -- including developments in the regions in the Middle East, the Western Balkans, climate change and the fight against corruption and organised crime.

I also thanked the Prime Minister for Bulgaria's efforts to promote greater regional cooperation and global security. Today, more than 600 brave Bulgarians are serving the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

You are also contributing in other ways. Bulgaria is moving from a recipient of UN development assistance to a donor. You are now also sharing your experiences and lessons in democratic transition with the people of the Middle East and North Africa – and I look forward to a conference tomorrow on that very subject.

All of this reflects a profound sense of solidarity that is deeply embedded in Bulgaria, and it is a spirit I very much feel here today.

As you mark the Day of Bulgarian Armed Forces, the world would greatly benefit from a Bulgaria that plays an even more active role in UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

Whether the challenge is climate change, global governance or the fight against corruption, the Prime Minister and I affirmed the importance of international cooperation. And in this regard I would like to highly commend such strong leadership and strong political commitment to work with the United Nations and the European Union to fight against organised crime and corruption. And I would like to commend the political leadership. This leadership has been recognised by the European Union and the State Department of the United States for such a strong political will. I urged him that the most important thing comes from strong political leadership and commitment at the leaders level and this is what I have experienced as Secretary-General of the United Nations in dealing with many difficult challenges. I hope I can count on your continuing leadership in that regard. All these challenges go beyond national boundaries. We must work to confront them together.

Once again, my thanks to the Prime Minister for his commitment to advancing our common agenda for global peace and development. And I sincerely hope that my visit as Secretary-General to Bulgaria will contribute to further reinforcing and strengthening the partnership between the United Nations and Bulgaria.

I thank you very much for your leadership.

Blagodaria. [Thank you.]

Q: [translated from Bulgarian] Mr. Secretary-General, welcome to Bulgaria. We are happy to meet you here. A question related to the latest developments – according to the UK media, the ICC court will soon issue arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam. Do you support such endeavour?

SG: As you are already well aware, the Security Council has taken two very important Resolutions on Libya: 1970 and 1973. In the 1970 Resolution, the Security Council has referred this case of serious violations of human rights to International Criminal Court. On that mandate, I understand the Prosecutor of the ICC, Mr. Moreno Ocampo, has begun his investigations. In fact he came to the United Nations and briefed the Security Council the other day. He reported to the Security Council that he will investigate and try to indict whoever is responsible for these serious violations of human rights. As the International Criminal Court is an independent international judicial organisation, I think his work and his responsibility should be respected. That is what I can tell you at this time, as Secretary-General, I fully support the principle that whoever and whenever there is violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, those people should be accountable and go to justice.

Q: Do you think that the killing of the Qadhafi family has been justified by the UN Resolution? Libya said several days ago that the family was killed by the attacks of NATO. And also Europe is trying to seek condemnation of the crackdown in Syria, do you see such a progress towards such a Resolution from the United Nations.

SG: On your first question, I would like to refer to the statement made by the authorities of NATO which has been overseeing the military operations in accordance with the Security Council Resolution 1973. They said that military operations do not target any civilians, they target military installations or military equipment which might be use to kill the civilian population. This is what I understand, and I believe that they are doing their utmost to protect the civilian population.

For your second question, in fact yesterday I talked at length with President al-Assad of Syria. That was my third telephone call recently and I urged him to take bold and decisive reform measures before it is too late and to listen more attentively and seriously to the aspirations of the people, and I urged him that whatever measures he has taken, including the lifting the emergency laws, should be immediately and fully implemented. I also raised the possible violation of human rights and that human rights should be fully protected of those people who peacefully demonstrate. The third issue was humanitarian assistance - I strongly urged that the Syrian Government should receive UN humanitarian assessment teams because we are seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in cities like Deraa and other localities where demonstrations have been intensive, where security forces were taking very violent measures. He told me that he will discuss this matter and will come back to me. And I sincerely hope he will positively consider this.