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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at joint press encounter with Foreign Minister Franciscus Cornelis Gerardus Maria Timmermans of the The Netherlands

The Hague, The Netherlands, 8 April 2013

Thank you, Your Excellency Foreign Minister Timmermans. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to be back at The Hague. I thank Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, Prime Minister Rutte, Foreign Minister Timmermans and the Government and people of the Netherlands for their warm welcome.

I deeply value the close partnership between the Netherlands and the United Nations.

This country plays an important and constructive role around the world.  It is a leading progressive force
in promoting the rule of law, disarmament, the peaceful settlement of disputes and sustainable development.

The Netherlands is also a champion of human rights and gender equality and it is engaged on climate change and the post-2015 development agenda process. 

These priorities are my priorities, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, and we have a natural collaboration. And I really appreciate such a strong partnership between the United Nations and the Netherlands.

This morning, I will open the Third Review Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. This session provides an important opportunity to shape the future of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  I expect we will focus on how to deal with remaining tasks and future challenges. And I deeply appreciate the Foreign Minister Timmermans’ strong commitment on this, and we are working together on this shortly this afternoon.

My meetings with Dutch officials also focussed on a number of other issues including Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the crisis in Mali, the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and international support to Afghanistan beyond 2014.  In addition, we discussed international development priorities and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

I deeply appreciate the continuing commitment and support and exemplary leadership by the Dutch Government in reaching the target of 0.7% of GNI by 2015. Netherlands is one of only five countries in the world who are [setting] these great examples.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with the President and the judges of the International Court of Justice.  And later today, I will meet with the presidents of the international courts and the special tribunals.

I am deeply grateful to the Netherlands and The Hague for hosting these institutions, as well as the International Court of Justice. This is the capital of the international justice system –
and further proof that the Netherlands and the United Nations are working for common goals.

I thank you very much and I am happy to take some of your questions.

Q: Can you elaborate on how you see the situation in Korea now?

SG: I am deeply concerned about the current rising tension in and around the Korean peninsula.  I have repeatedly expressed my great concern about the continued inflammatory rhetoric coming from Kim Jong-un which has gone too far already. I have also warned the DPRK authorities that making any threat related to nuclear weapons is not a game. The Security Council has made it clear through its resolution adopted in March 1994; the Council sent an unequivocal message to the DPRK that the international community will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons and related acts and strongly urged the DPRK authorities not to make any further provocative measures. This was a consensus resolution agreed upon by all fifteen Member States. I, once again, call upon the DPRK and all other Member States to fully comply with the resolution and it is time for all the parties concerned to help reduce the tension and initiate dialogue, so that all pending issues can be resolved peacefully and harmoniously.

Q: You also spoke with Minister Ploumen yesterday and she announced last Friday that the Netherlands in the near future will decrease its contribution to several UN organisations. What do you think of that?

SG: As I said in my earlier remarks, I am deeply grateful and encouraged by the continuing commitment and contribution by the Government of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is one of the biggest donor countries to UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA and all the Specialized Agencies and has generously contributed to humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees and also Mali. We sincerely hope that the Netherlands will continue to do so, despite the current economic situation in European eurozone areas. We need to continue to support those people who are really in need of immediate, urgent assistance all around the world. And we have discussed this matter in depth and I expressed my sincere gratitude to Foreign Minister Timmermans. I will also discuss this matter with the Prime Minister Rutte this afternoon.

Q: On Afghanistan Mr Secretary-General, how do you look at China, together with other neighbouring countries, looking to expand their role in Afghanistan after 2014?

SG: With the transition by the end of 2014, first of all, all these security measures should be ensured.  What is important at this time is that, we need to see [that] the election next year will be held in a very peaceful way - be credible - so that they can be sure that they will be able to govern peacefully. I have asked Foreign Minister Timmermans, as one of ISAF forces, who have been contributing greatly to peace and security in Afghanistan, to help the Afghanistan Government to strengthen their national capacity particularly in the national forces and national police, so that they can take care themselves of all the security issues. At the same time, we expect that countries will continue to provide social and economic assistance. The United Nations mandate in Afghanistan – UNAMA – was extended with a mandate again to help the conciliation process and help conduct the elections and also provide the social and economic assistance. I know that the United Nations’ role will be increased. I would expect, and hope, that countries will continue to provide such support.

Q: When you speak about North Korea, talking about the inflammatory rhetoric coming from Pyongyang, there are reports this morning from South Korea that that the North Koreans are preparing a fourth nuclear test. Any comments on that, and where do you stand on that specific matter, because it seems like North Korea is continuing to ratchet up the pressure in the Korean Peninsula?

SG: You mean the North Koreans may test a nuclear weapon?  I am aware of the reports about possible preparations for a nuclear test by the DPRK. I don't have any specific information about it at this time. As I have already stated this morning here - I have been repeatedly urging the DPRK to refrain from taking any further provocative measures. This is a provocative measure if they do [so] again in violation of Security Council resolution 2094. The DPRK cannot go on this way, confronting and challenging the authority of the Security Council and directly challenging the whole international community. I sincerely hope that they will fully comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions. This is an urgent and earnest appeal from the international community, including myself.


Off-the-Cuff on 8 April 2013