Secretary-General's remarks at wrap-up press conference on visit to South-Eastern Europe [scroll down for Q and A]
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 26 July 2012
I am now at the end of a six-day, seven-stop tour to all parts of the former Yugoslavia. This was the first such trip by a United Nations Secretary-General and it was a remarkable journey.
I leave with a deeper understanding of the region – and a greater appreciation for its challenges and its potential.
My visit focused on the future.
I am deeply impressed. I saw resilience, dynamism and commitment.
The region has come such a long way from twenty years ago when war ravaged these lands.
Today, it is looking to a shared future based on steadily improving relations and cooperation.
The leaders and people of the entire region can be proud of their achievements.
Of course, difficult economic, political and social challenges remain. And yet, all people in all places I visited want the same thing – jobs and opportunity – hope and a better life.
I see a region not looking back to what was destroyed twenty years ago – but looking forward to what they can build together over the next generation. I see a region committed to strengthening its Euro-Atlantic ties.
As I have often said, the region shares common linguistic, cultural and historical space – we must work to widen the common space for dialogue, justice and trust.
The United Nations stands ready to help the region build on its progress and overcome its challenges for shared progress and prosperity for all.
I now leave this Olympic city of Sarajevo for the opening of 2012 Olympic games. As I leave for London, I carry the Sarajevo spirit with me.
Q. (inaudible) On optimism for future for the region, and specifically Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on whether military action needs to be taken in Syria.
A. On the first part of the question; I am optimistic. I have seen such a strong will of the leaders of the region, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. Normally it is very difficult to heal after conflict, after such tragic turbulence and history. But I am sure that, as I said, you share the same language, same history [...] and a lot of commonalities which I have seen during the last six days during every stop that I have visited. Yesterday I visited this mosque and Catholic church with President Izetbegovic, and I was very much impressed. I have seen [a city] full of dynamism, a very lively atmosphere among people, from their faces. I saw the signs of hope and a better future.
On the second part of the question; what is important at this time is that violence must stop by both sides - Government forces and opposition forces. Nobody is talking, as I understand, about military operations therefore it is not appropriate for me and I am not in a position to make any comments on that.
Q. Under what conditions do you expect Kosovo to become a Member State?
A. The status of Kosovo is guided by Security Council Resolution 1244. I know that a number of countries have recognized the statehood of Kosovo. But for recognition or non-recognition of any state it is up to the Member States. And the admission of any state that wants to join the United Nations that, again, should be determined by the Security Council recommendation and approval by the General Assembly.
What is important at this time as I have urged the leaders of both parties that they should ameliorate and harmonize and reconcile their relationship, between Serbia and Kosovo. I know Serbia is aspiring to join the European Union, and again I heard from the Kosovo authorities that they also are also looking forward to that aspiration. For that purpose I think they should reconcile and reduce the level of tension and refrain from making highly political rhetoric which would serve nobody's purpose.
Q. (inaudible) Question on whether Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the United Nations too early.
A. Bosnia and Herzegovina are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their membership of the United Nations. They have come such a long way, very difficult, tragic way. And now from recipient country they have turned themselves in to a donor country. From a country which was hosting a United Nations peace-keeping Mission, now they are contributing their men and women to United Nations peace-keeping operations, contributing to peace and security. This is a huge transformation, a remarkable contribution. I am confident that Bosnia and Herzegovina, even though they have some challenges, will be able to overcome [them], promoting reconcilation among all different thinking or positions. This is what I was assured by the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I met yesterday with the leaders of seven different political parties in addition to my meetings with the Government leadership. Thank you very much. I wish you all the best.
Off-the-Cuff on 26 July 2012