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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at press conference with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Luxembourg

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 17 April 2012

SG: Thank you Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Minister. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media,

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to visit Luxembourg for the first time in this wonderful Member State of the United Nations. I know that this is the first official visit by a United Nations Secretary-General since 1989. I am extremely happy to be the Second Secretary-General in the history of the United Nations to visit this country.

I have had productive meetings with H.E Prime Minister Juncker and also H.E. the Foreign Minister Asselborn.

Earlier today, I had the great privilege of meeting with His Royal Highness the Grand Duke. I look forward to addressing the Parliament later today. As I was briefly introduced by my dear good friend Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. They are many good reasons and happy reasons to be here to appreciate this country, for the UN for me personally as the SG as a citizen of the Republic of Korea. First when it comes to my own home country, Luxembourg was one of the 21 countries who came to support the Republic of Korea during the Korean War.

Luxembourg is a founding Member of the United Nations and I have known HE Prime Minister Juncker from afar when I was Foreign Minister and I have been respecting him with admiration for his leadership and he is longest serving prime minister in Europe. And when it comes to HRH the Grand Duke he has lot of relationship with Korea which he visited many times and when it comes to HRH she is acting as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, so I am more than happy with all these multiple happy relationships with Luxembourg.

Now I am here to underscore such a vital partnership particularly this long relationship particularly as a Secretary-General of the UN. Luxembourg is a founding member, as I said, and you have taken that responsibility seriously and sincerely from day one.

Today, Luxembourg plays an important role across our agenda of peace and security, development and human rights.

We see your leadership through Luxembourg’s exceptional generosity. Already In 2009, your official development assistance (ODA) reached 1.04% of your gross national income. The UN has been recommending all Member States to pay 0.7 GNI by year 2015, so you have already surpassed, you have already met that mark much higher and I am sure that this it will increase. This is one of the highest levels of any country in the world.

At a time when budgets are tight everywhere including this country most especially in Europe, at a time when many governments are cutting back sharply on budget items, including foreign aid … Luxembourg is an example of global solidarity and enlightened common cause.

Thank you, Mr Prime Minister and Mr Foreign Minister on behalf of a grateful United Nations and international community.

Your generosity, however, goes beyond your purse. We benefit daily from Luxembourg’s ideas, commitment and engagement. In a word, we benefit from your vision.

I have had a chance to highlight this role and to discuss a wide range of issues in my meetings today with the leadership of this great country. I will address them further in my speech to the Parliament.

Luxembourg is looking at global challenges in an integrated way – and that is what the world needs to do as well. We have an important opportunity to do so, that is just two months away – the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. I count on Luxembourg’s strong support in this area.

For now, let me just add that I commended the Prime Minister for Luxembourg’s continuing leadership on sustainable development.

We also reviewed a number of peace and security issues. Of course, the situation in Syria remains a major concern.

I would like to update you on the observer mission which arrived in the country on Sunday night.

The first task for the team of six unarmed military observers is to reach out to the Syrian authorities and security forces, as well as to the opposition, to ensure that their mandate and role on the ground is understood and supported by the Syrian Government.

More of the advance team will be arriving in the coming days and today and tomorrow. They will be extended to 30. As you know, the Security Council has authorized the deployment of an advance team of up to 30 observers.

It is the Syrian Government's responsibility to guarantee freedom of access and freedom of movement within the country for these observers.

They should be allowed to freely move to any places where they will be able to observe the cessation of violence.

What is important at this time is that the cessation of violence process is very fragile, thus must be consolidated.

Therefore it requires full support and cooperation by all the parties concerned, the Syrian authorities and opposition forces.

I'm now requested by the Security Council to propose a formal proposal for a UN supervision mission by tomorrow, Wednesday. I am going to do it by tomorrow.

On this basis, and subject to a sustained cessation of armed violence, the Security Council is expected to discuss another resolution to authorize a fully-fledged mission.

On the humanitarian situation, one million people are in need of humanitarian support.

It is the responsibility of the Syrian authorities to protect the freedom and safety of the humanitarian workers whose impartiality and independence need to be respected.

We are not contemplating any UN military protection at this time. Humanitarian teams should be guaranteed their freedom of movement by the Syrian authorities.

Finally, I am deeply concerned about continued hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan, including its impact on innocent civilians.

I call on both parties to end the fighting immediately and to respect international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.

I call on the Government of Sudan to cease immediately all aerial bombardment of South Sudan territory.

I also call on the Government of South Sudan to withdraw immediately from Higlig and to use legal and diplomatic instruments to address its arguments on the status of Higlig.

Turning to Guinea-Bissau; I reiterate my call for the immediate restoration of constitutional order in the country as well as the prompt release of detained interim President and Prime Minister.

I have spoken to a number of African leaders over the past days with the aim of finding a quick and lasting solution to the political crisis in Guinea-Bissau.

I particularly commend the member states of ECOWAS and its chair, President Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, for their efforts in Guinea-Bissau. I would also like to highlight the important role of ECOWAS in facilitating the restoration of constitutional order in Mali, especially the role of mediator, of President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso.

Regarding Mali, I have recently spoken to interim President Traoré and urged him to work towards political stability through the effective implementation of the framework agreement.

These are some of the issues I have discussed with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and HRH the Grand Duke today. And I am very much grateful for such a strong commitment and concerns expressed by the leadership of Luxembourg on all the matters the international community is now addressing.

Once again, I thank the Prime Minister and the people of Luxembourg for their warm hospitality and for their unwavering support to the United Nations.

And I am looking forward very much to working closely with the people and the Government of Luxembourg

Villmools Merci.

Q: Can you provide an update on the situation in Syria and on the possibility of military protection?

SG: I will try to answer altogether. They started their functions since yesterday and you have seen all the images on TV reporting. Unfortunately there have been some sporadic violences taking place. This is what has been reported by the observer mission, though we think that the overall cessation of violence has been generally observed. That is why recently I had been urging the importance of keeping this very fragile process of cessation of violence. This requires political will, very determined political, will and the leadership of Syria should not be affected by any sporadic attack by the opposition forces or whatever sources of violence and they should exercise the maximum restraint so that this cessation of violence can hold. Than this will allow the Government and opposition forces and also the Joint Special Envoy Mr. Kofi Annan to initiate this political dialogue in an inclusive way to reflect the aspiration of the Syrian people. This will be led by Syrian people and Syrian people will own the process and this will allow the easy access of humanitarian missions to deliver and as I said there are at least one million displaced people, internally displaced people within Syria. There are tens of thousands of refugees in the borderlines of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. We are trying to mobilise all necessary humanitarian assistance to these people, badly in need of your support. And I am urging the Syrian authorities to keep this cessation of violence.

And about the second part that we will have to very closely consult with the Member States particularly with the Security Council, but at this time the situation is so complicated that we are not contemplating any military introduction of military protection. This is the responsibility of the Syrian authorities.

Q: Can a handful of observers prevent violence?

SG: The number of supervision mission will be 250 this is what I am going to propose to the Security Council. I expect the Security Council will support and take immediate action, on authorisation action on this matter. There is always a question of whether of 250 is enough. I think this is not enough considering the current situation and considering the vastness of the country and that is why we need very efficient mobility of our observer mission. That is what I have discussed with European Union leadership yesterday, with President Barroso and President Van Rompuy and High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton. We discussed whether the EU could provide all these assets for additional mobility including helicopters and planes, but all these issues are the subtext of discussions by our Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan with the Syrian authorities. I believe that the EU leadership will be positively inclined.

Q: If there is more widespread violence - what is the decision-making process to pull out observers?

SG: Since April 12, when this agreement became effective, we think that cessation of violence has been generally observed despite there were some violences taking place as you have been saying. That is why we are been much concerned. That is why every day and every time I’m urging the Syrian authorities to strictly adhere to the agreement so that Kofi Annan’s Six Point Proposals could be implemented in its entirety. I have assured Mr Annan that the UN will do our best to help Kofi Annan’s mission so that he can implement this Six Point Proposals in its entirety. That is our priority number one mission at this time. Let us see how this 250 supervision mission will be able to address the situation at this time. It again requires political will, a political commitment to preserve the cessation of violence.

Q: Does the Secretary-General support Luxembourg’s candidacy to the Security Council?

SG: I am aware of such aspirations of the Luxembourg people and Government to be able to serve as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. I have been briefed by the Foreign Minister on how hard and how efficiently they have been working with the Member States. You should know that the Secretary General does not have a vote. It is the Member States’ decision who should be let in to the Security Council. As I said earlier, Luxembourg is a founding member of the UN, has been contributing to many peacekeeping operations and has been an exemplary model country in development issues including ODA and an important EU Member State. I hope and I believe that this should be one of the elements on which Member States will appreciate and will consider, but it is up to the Member States.