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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's joint press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister

Putrajaya, Malaysia, 22 March 2012

It’s a great pleasure and honor for me to visit Malaysia as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Even though this is my first visit as the Secretary-General, I am a very strong admirer of the Malaysian people because I have been here many times in my previous capacity and I have been working very closely with the Malaysian Government and people.
 
While I’m here for a very brief stay, I am very impressed by all what they have achieved under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib, in terms of political and democratic maturity, in terms of socio-economic development and in terms of their contribution. As the Prime Minister just introduced, he has touched on a variety of issues, how United Nations and Malaysia, and how the United Nations and ASEAN can work together in addressing the many different challenges facing us, facing Malaysia and facing the United Nations. We discussed also the Global Movement of the Moderates, which is a vision to promote a mutual understanding and reconciliation, and raising tolerance towards different religions and different culture and tradition.
 
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country. Promoting unity among diversity, promoting one Malaysia among Malaysians is a great vision, not only for the Malaysian people, [but also] for the region. This is exactly what the United Nations tries to promote worldwide. And I really appreciate Prime Minister Najib’s leadership.
 
Earlier this morning before I came here, I addressed the Institute of Democracy and Foreign Relations with the theme “United Nations and Malaysia in a Changing World”.
 
We live in a turbulent time. The situation in Syria continues to be a major concern. While we have discussed the Middle East peace process. Syria is part of the Middle East peace process. And the stability and peace in the Middle East has quite an implication in the region and in the world. The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab Sates, Mr. Kofi Annan, continues to work to build the bridges that we will need for a dual settlement of s crisis. People are dying daily, families and all communities are being displaced and destroyed. I call again for violence to end and for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue and negotiation. Again, I call on Syrian authorities to allow unhindered humanitarian access so that the international community could deliver humanitarian assistance.
 
I was encouraged by the Security Council’s presidential statement which was adopted yesterday. This is a demonstration of unity, supporting the Special Envoy’s mission. I hope that this very clear, unmistakable message by the Security Council will be able to resolve this issue in a swift manner.
 
Malaysia is one of the middle-income countries, but the level of the development achieved can be shared with many countries. And I sincerely hope that Malaysia will continue to provide such wisdom, lessons and experiences to many other countries, not only in the region, but beyond the region. And I appreciate Malaysia’s strong commitment to participate in peacekeeping operations. Since 1960, Malaysia has been participating in 25 different peacekeeping operations, providing at least 20,000 young men and women for the purpose of peace. I appreciate that.
 
[I thank the Malaysian people for] all their sacrifices. I express my admiration and deep respect to their families and to the Government of Malaysia.
 
I am going to have an opportunity for visiting the Malaysian peacekeeping training centre which can also give good lessons, examples, to many other countries who are committed to peace.
 
Here in Malaysia, I sincerely hope that the electoral reform process will lead to a truly transparent credible system to the satisfaction of all Malaysians. I conveyed my wishes during my public speech this morning that all the concerns and aspirations of the Malaysian people, in this very multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural conditions will be truly met.
 
Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association are fundamental human rights and need to be respected in any democratic societies.
 
At this critical moment in history, when so much is at stake for people all over the world, I’m here to say to the Government and people of Malaysia, we need your ideas, your experiences and your continued commitment in addressing many difficult challenges.
 
Thank you very much, terima kasih.
 
Q: I’m Julia from AFP news agency. Mr Ban Ki-moon, could you comment on North Korea and the call for UN nuclear inspectors to return to the country? And they’re also saying that they’re launching a satellite next month, and along those lines, what are your hopes for the upcoming nuclear summit next week?
 
SG: As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I express my deep concern over the announcement by the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, of their intention to launch a satellite. This is a clear violation of relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular Security Council resolution 1874, which prohibits any launch using ballistic missile technology. This threatens the peace and security on the Korean peninsula. Not only the Korean peninsula, but in the region and this is again undermining the positive atmosphere which has been established recently by the agreement between the United States and DPRK authorities whereby the international community including the United States will provide 240,000 tonnes of food while DPRK authorities will refrain, suspend their nuclear activities, particularly uranium enrichment programmes. I have conveyed my deep concern to DPRK authorities and I have been in full contact with major countries in the region, expressing my concern as well as asking them to exercise their influence. I am going to discuss this issue with the President of the Republic of Korea in Seoul, and I’ll be engaging in dialogues with many other leaders who will be attending the nuclear security summit meeting. I sincerely hope that again, and I urge DPRK authorities to refrain from any such acts which will destabilise the situation and peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, which [goes against] the aspirations and wishes of the international community.
 
Q: From Associated Press. In this morning’s speech, you said that the UN Security Council’s adoption of the presidential statement could mark a turning point in the Syrian crisis, can you elaborate on what should be the next step by the international community and if all else fails, is military intervention a solution?
 
SG: My answer to the second part [of your question] about the possible military operation, at this time, the international community, the United Nations globally is discussing this military operation. The Security Council presidential statement has made it quite clear in unmistakable terms that all the violence must stop and there should be political negotiation, inclusive political negotiation, for the resolution of this issue, in a way which can meet the aspirations of the Syrian people. And also humanitarian access should be established. It has also strongly supported the six concrete proposals put forward by the Joint Special Envoy, Mr. Kofi Annan, when he visited Syria a few days ago. At this time, the expert teams are now in Syria discussing how we can expedite this process. First of all, ceasefire, and how this ceasefire could be monitored and maintained, and how it can provide humanitarian access. The International Red Cross as well as the Special Envoy specifically proposed to have at least two hours of pause from violence daily so that humanitarian assistance can be delivered. All these are proposals which are now being discussed between the authorities of Syria and the Special Envoys of Peace.
 
Q: Dear Sir, I am from Reuters, Angie. Myanmar yesterday had said they would allow international media and people to go into their country for the upcoming election. And do you think it’s going to lead to a clear and fair election?
 
SG: I am encouraged by the recent developments in Myanmar, toward the greater participatory democracy and the greater freedom of movement and the greater freedom of speech for Myanmar people under the leadership of President Thein Sein. I commend this, his initiative, including the release of political prisoners. This has given a strong sense of hope and expectation for the international community to see more and greater development in Myanmar. The United Nations and myself, as the Chair of this Group of Friends for Myanmar, have been working very closely together with the international community. Now that the election is going to be held, and with the announcement and willingness to invite international monitors, this is quite welcome news. The United Nations will also discuss this matter with stakeholders, the international community members, so that the elections will be held in a credible and democratic and open, transparent manner. This is the right way, towards the right direction, and I myself am considering visiting Myanmar at a certain date, as soon as this election is over. As you may remember, I have dispatched my Special Advisor on Myanmar, Mr. Vijay Nambiar, a couple of weeks ago and he had intensive discussions with Myanmar authorities, how the United Nations and Myanmar can work together toward the further democratisation process.

Off-the-Cuff on 22 March 2012