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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General’s remarks at press briefing with Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden {scroll down for Q&A}

Stockholm, Sweden, 14 May 2014

It is a great pleasure to be back in Sweden for my fourth visit as Secretary-General.  I thank Prime Minister Reinfeldt and the Government of Sweden for their welcome and support.

This morning’s forum on migration was an important step forward in dealing with this crucial issue.  People are on the move across the world as never before.  That means the world needs to create regular, safe and orderly channels of migration.  When we promote and protect the human rights of migrants and their families, we benefit all people.

I also had a very good meeting today with representatives of Swedish civil society.  We talked about today’s challenges but also about the new global landscape that is taking shape for tomorrow. I stressed the crucial role of civil society in helping us to navigate these dramatic political, economic and environmental changes.

Prime Minister Reinfeldt and I just had a productive working lunch.  We talked about the tensions in Ukraine, the worsening situation in Syria and the latest state of play on Cyprus.  We also discussed the conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and the peace and stability efforts in Mali.

Mr. Prime Minister, I know you visited recently and saw for yourself the crippling effects of the fighting in the Central African Republic.  Thank you for Sweden’s efforts to help ease the suffering.

Sweden is a leading champion of the United Nations.  The people of Sweden are generous and globally minded supporters.

I am especially impressed that at a time of global financial constraint, Sweden consistently exceeds -- by a wide margin -- the UN target for development aid.  This is an example for other states to follow -- and is of enormous importance in our work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, shape a Post-2015 development agenda and address climate change.

Thank you.

Q: Mr Secretary-General, Lakhdar Brahimi just resigned as Special Envoy to Syria, what do you think will happen to the peace process in Syria?

SG: With reluctance, I had to accept Mr Brahimi’s resignation, with a lot of concern about the continuing violence and without any prospect at this time for any political solution. We cannot go on like this. We are already in the fourth year of this crisis with a huge humanitarian crisis and human rights crisis. While we’ve been able to achieve some results on the destruction of chemical weapons, nothing has been possible on the political side.

He regrets that he had to leave and for the time being, we will have to coordinate with the League of Arab States and other key partners about the political possible successor. I also express my deepest appreciation to the Swedish Prime Minister for accommodating Syrian refugees in the Swedish community.

At the same time, we have to work for a political solution, to bring hope to the Syrian people and to help the Syrian people live in their country.

Q: What would a follow-up investigation into the death of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld mean? And second question, do you think that this investigation will take place?

SG: We have received this report with some new evidences, and that is why I have asked the General Assembly to add this question to the agenda and to look into this whole case of Dag Hammarskjöld’s death.

I have proposed certain portions for consideration of the General Assembly. I believe the General Assembly will take this issue and will review what kind of options they will take.

It will be important to know what exactly has happened regarding his death, whether it was truly a technical error of the airplane or if there was any foul play or any attempt to assassinate the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

In such a case, this is a very serious issue. We have to find out the truth on this issue and I count on a speedy action by the General Assembly.

Q: Do you know how soon Mr. Brahimi will be replaced?

SG: I think I already answered this question. At this time, I don’t have any answer. I’m going to consult with the key actors and key States. For the time being, we need to think who should be the right person to succeed.

Q: Could I just continue on Syria: do you see any prospects that against all these odds that you yourself mentioned last night when Mr. Brahimi resigned tat could be more successful? What would have to change to make that job meaningful with the possibility of a political solution?

SG:  I don’t think it’s a matter of Joint or Special envoys. It’s a matter of support of the international community’s key actors, the Security Council and regional actors in peace and security issues. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General, and Lakhdar Brahimi, one of the most brilliant diplomat and skillful, haven’t been able to get the full support that Special Envoys need. It’s time to send a strong message to the international community. Are we willing to continue to be this way divided while ten of thousands are going to die? What about these millions of refugees and these displaced persons, internally? What about all these infrastructures that have been destroyed? It is their country, their future… Therefore, the international community needs to be united.

Q: What’s your view on the rising of political parties all across Europe that are anti-immigration?

SG: I know that Europe is going to have elections but as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I cannot be in a position to predict the outcome of elections, these are their, your elections, but I know that European countries and European people are very tolerant. This is a society of tolerance and understanding. At the same time, I would strongly urge that European show full support to human dignity and human rights for all people, particularly migrants who are coming to see a better future, a better solution and economic opportunities.