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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark, 11 October 2011

SG: It is a great honour and pleasure for me to visit Denmark again after two years. And it is all the more pleasure for me to have a bilateral meeting with the new Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt so soon after her inauguration as leader of this great country. Denmark is one of the exemplary model countries in the United Nations, upholding and contributing to peace and security and development and human rights. You are the champion of all important pillars of the UN Charter. I count on your leadership and commitment under your administration.

The Prime Minister has just outlined the topics we discussed. We discussed a wide range of topics of common interest starting from broader context of Arab Spring, how we can work together to help those people realize their legitimate aspirations for greater freedom, participatory democracy and human rights.

Under this topic, we have discussed the situation in Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt. And, on broader peace and security issues, we discussed about Sudan and Afghanistan. On development and global issues, our discussions were focused on how we can work again together to realize this sustainable development, including sustainable development energy and MDGs and green growth economy which Madame Prime Minister has initiated this morning in the form of 3G Forum, Global Green Growth Forum. It was a quite important and meaningful one, as we are now trying to realize sustainable development, which will be a very important UN Conference in June next year in Rio de Janeiro.

I have asked the Prime Minister to consider participating to lead her delegation to Rio+20 meeting next year. I hope you will consider positively even though you might have many important tasks.

We also discussed on how we can work together to promote gender empowerment and also help these women and children's health issues.

I thanked the Prime Minister for Denmark's extraordinary contributions to the work of the United Nations.

Copenhagen is a global city. You are host to international conferences, not only today's 3G Forum, but other meetings that made their mark in the past, like the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which was held in December 2009 and also the World Summit for Social Development.

I am also grateful to Copenhagen and the Danish Government for hosting our UN City, which is helping deliver better results for the people of our world. I am going there shortly, after this press conference.

The UN has a big presence in Denmark, and Denmark has a big presence at the United Nations. I rely on many Danish officials and staff who serve the United Nations around the world, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, from Liberia to Iraq.

Denmark is literally building a new UN by helping us renovate our headquarters in New York.

Denmark is one of just a handful of countries that meet the target of development aid and Denmark is on the front lines of our work for human rights, peace and development. Today, you have once again demonstrated your commitment to sustainable development and green growth.

I thanked Denmark for their generous contribution to my Sustainable Energy for All initiative. But you provide much more than funds; you show leadership and share ideas. The ambitious goals that you have set for your government regarding renewable energy and cuts in carbon emissions are very important and an inspiring example for all governments to follow.

I am working hard to strengthen the United Nations. We are modernizing our operations, and we are getting the most out of every krone. Our goal is to better respond to the needs of the world's people.

I know I can count on Denmark's new government under your leadership to help us reach these goals. Our partnership will become even more crucial in the first half of next year when Denmark becomes president of the European Union. I really count on your bold and visionary leadership to lead this European Union. With your support and your spirit of solidarity, I am confident that we can advance to a better future.

Thank you.

Q: I would like to ask you since you are here: Yemeni President [Ali Abdullah] Saleh said on Saturday he would step down in the coming days. Do you believe he will?

SG: The situation in Yemen has been a source of great, deep concern to the international community. I have been working very hard directly by myself by talking to President Saleh and by deploying my Special Envoy, Mr. [Jamal] Benomar, who has visited five times. And he has just come back and we have proposed some proposals and tried to facilitate their negotiations and tried to help bridge the gaps.

What is important at this time, while I am not in a position to judge what will happen, whether he will really keep his word; that we will have to watch. What is important at this time is that President Saleh should take immediately decisive political reforms so that people can live in a better world without fear of oppression and there must be full protection of human rights. And the United Nations will very closely coordinate with Yemen's government, as well as regional organizations like the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Q: You lashed out recently at the United States ahead of the Durban conference. What are your expectations of that Conference?

SG: The Member States have been working very closely and very hard. There was a meeting in Panama last week. They are working on the draft text which will be the basis of discussions in Durban. What is important at this time is that the Member States should build upon what had been agreed in Cancún last year. Cancún was able to reaffirm again what had been discussed in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen Conference adopting the Copenhagen accord, and that was reaffirmed by the Member States in Cancún.

We have made reasonably good progress in several areas like adaptation, capacity-building, climate change financing and deforestation, technological transfer. But all this needs necessary funding. In Copenhagen, the world leaders have committed themselves to provide $30 billion annually to the developing countries by the end of next year, and more longer-term basis, they have agreed to provide a hundred billion dollars annually by 2020. That is now in the hands of Member States.

I have established the High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change financing which was supported by Prime Minister [Jens] Stoltenberg of Norway and Prime Minister Meles [Zenawi] of Ethiopia, who is here now in Denmark today. They have proposed certain options for long-term financing. I am told that they had good discussions in Panama about the ways and approaches, what to do. I hope the Member States will have serious discussions in Durban.

And in Durban there must be discussions on the clarity of the future of the Kyoto Protocol. That is again another very important meeting.

I am going to have a meeting with Mrs. Cristiana Figueres who is Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, who is in Denmark now. I will get a briefing and we will discuss how the United Nations can really help so that Member States can move ahead. And I count on the leadership of President [Jacob] Zuma as host of this important meeting.

Q: Denmark holds the presidency of the EU during the UN Conference in Rio next year. What do you expect Prime Minister Thorning to deliver during the Conference next year?

SG: We discussed about her role, Prime Minister's role, as president of the European Union. Personally it will be a great opportunity for you, Madame Prime Minister, to really exercise your global leadership role as the new Prime Minister of Denmark. You are going to soon be the President of the European Union.

We discussed what we expect from the Presidency and the European Union as a whole. Cyprus is one of the important issues. I am going to convene another meeting, trilateral meetings, on October 30th in New York between the two leaders of Cyprus.

There are many other issues where we can work together: peace and security in Africa and how we can help those people in transition - what we are now terming as Arab Spring - and North Africa and Libya and how we can work together on sustainable development, sustainable energy and how we meet the target of MDGs by 2015.

There are many global issues and global challenges, regional issues and development issues which we count on European Union's leadership.

Q: Now you were at the 3G Forum this morning and definitely among friends. But one friend was missing: the United States. What are you going to do to ensure that the United States will finally embark on the same journey toward sustainable development that the rest of the world has been embarking on?

SG: I believe the United States is very much committed to realizing green growth. Global green growth is a path toward all international community, the whole world; rich or poor, big or small should work together.

I highly commend the initiative of the Prime Minister to launch this 3G Forum where the Republic of Korea and Mexico and Denmark are playing a core role.

I have taken sustainable development as number one priority for the United Nations for the coming five years during my second term. But this should be the priority of all. I am encouraging that all world leaders support this priority and address climate change issues and energy security issues, food and nutrition issues, water scarcity, gender empowerment and global health issues. These are all global challenges no country can do alone. We have to work together. We need to pool our wisdom and resources. That is the main reason why we are meeting together in Copenhagen. I really count on your leadership and I really urge all the Member States to participate in this path for common prosperity to make this world better for all.