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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks to press with Foreign Minister of Algeria [Scroll down for Q&A in English]

Algiers, Algeria, 6 March 2016

Bonjour.

Je suis heureux d’être en Algérie, pour la seconde fois en tant que Secrétaire général.

Ma première visite fut très douloureuse. C’était en 2007, après les attentats terroristes dirigés contre les bureaux de l’ONU à Alger.

Je constate que de grands progrès ont été accomplis depuis lors, sous la direction du Président Bouteflika. Ce que j’ai appris de la politique de la « rahma », ou pitié, m’a impressionné. Plutôt que de se laisser diviser par les terroristes, l’Algérie s’unit dans la solidarité.

J’applaudis en particulier l’appui déclaré du Ministre des affaires étrangères en faveur de la promotion des libertés et des droits de l’homme.

L’histoire a montré à de nombreuses reprises que toute stratégie de lutte contre l’extrémisme violent qui ne repose pas sur le respect des droits de l’homme est vouée à l’échec.  Le respect des droits de l’homme est à la fois une obligation morale et un avantage tactique.

Le Ministre des affaires étrangères et moi-même avons parlé de la profonde inquiétude que nous inspire la situation en Libye.  J’apprécie énormément le rôle que joue l’Algérie, notamment en accueillant les pourparlers organisés sous l’égide des Nations Unies.

Il nous arrive de Libye des informations alarmantes sur des actes graves qui pourraient constituer des crimes de guerre. Tous les acteurs extérieurs doivent user de leur influence pour calmer la situation. Si les choses ne progressent pas sur le plan politique, la crise humanitaire s’aggravera et les atteintes à la sécurité, y compris les attaques de Daech, se multiplieront et gagneront du terrain.

J’ai également remercié le Ministre des affaires étrangères de l’engagement que l’Algérie continue de manifester en faveur du Mali, en tant que principal médiateur du processus de paix. Nous sommes convenus de continuer à pousser pour que la médiation aboutisse.

Le Ministre des affaires étrangères et moi-même avons parlé de l’importante question du Sahara occidental.

Hier, à Tindouf, j’ai rencontré des réfugiés qui souffrent depuis des générations. J’ai discuté avec des jeunes qui perdent foi dans l’avenir. Je leur ai promis de tout faire pour que les choses avancent.

Les parties au conflit n’ont fait aucun progrès réel dans les négociations devant aboutir à une solution politique juste, durable et acceptable par tous, fondée sur l’auto-détermination du peuple du Sahara occidental.

A Tindouf, j’ai aussi rencontré les membres du personnel de la MINURSO, qui font preuve d’un grand dévouement. Ils sont prêts à aider à organiser un référendum s’il y a un accord entre les parties. Je me suis rendu dans plusieurs sites, et je compte aller prochainement au quartier général de la mission, à Laayoune, au Sahara occidental.

Je suis profondément attristé par cette tragédie humanitaire. Le monde ne peut continuer à négliger les Sahraouis. Ils espèrent l’appui de la région, de l’ONU et de la communauté internationale. Nous devons réagir.

Je convoquerai prochainement une réunion de donateurs en vue de réunir des fonds pour que les besoins des réfugiés sahraouis puissent être satisfaits.

Mesdames, Messieurs,

En 2007, j’ai ramené à Genève un drapeau bleu déchiré. Le drapeau qui flottait sur nos bureaux d’Alger et que nous avons récupérer des décombres après l’attentat. Il est exposé en permanence et symbolise notre volonté à tous de défendre les droits de l’homme et de résister aux forces hostiles à la paix et au progrès.

Merci.

Q: [Question on Western Sahara]

Secretary-General: It’s true that this time I was not able to meet His Majesty, the King of Morocco. I had wanted to meet the King of Morocco before I started my visit to the region. Unfortunately, at this time, the King was not available but I was assured that we will be able meet.

That’s why I decided to make it a two-step approach. First, I visited and met the Sahrawi people and met Polisario Front Secretary-General Abdelaziz yesterday. I also visited MINURSO, the United Nations mission. Of course, I visited Mauritania, a very important country, with Algeria, in addressing Western Sahara issues.

Now I will make sure I visit and meet the King and also Laayoune, as I said in my earlier remarks.

I have four objectives for my visit to the region. The first one, I wanted to make my own assessment, by myself, on the ground and report to the Security Council. Second, I wanted to see for myself the humanitarian situation, which has been very much worsening day by day. Third objective is to visit MINURSO and to discuss with my Special Representative and Force Commander, and see the situation on the ground for myself. Fourth objective is to, again, analyse the security situation on the ground. There are increasing criminal activities and drug trafficking and, even, the possibility of extremists and terrorists infiltrating into the region. So we have to take very careful necessary action to prevent this situation.

I was very saddened to see so many refugees and, particularly, young people who were born there. The children who were born at the beginning of this occupation are now 40 or 41 years old. So forty years of a very difficult life. I really wanted to give them a sense of hope that this not the end of the world for them. I was concerned that if they know that this is the end of their world, then what will happen to their future? We have to bring them, first of all, lifesaving support and a sense of bigger hope for their better future. That’s why I’m going to convene a donor’s conference and try to, first of all, [to] provide lifesaving support for them while political negotiations will be resumed.

Finally, I am going to ask my Personal Representative, Christopher Ross, to reengage in shuttle diplomacy and try to provide some atmosphere conducive for the resumption of face-to-face negotiations between the parties.

Q: [Question about military intervention in Libya and the situation in the Sahel]

Secretary-General: As a matter of principle there is no military solution, which will bring an ultimate solution to the crisis - whatever the crisis may be. Sometimes military means may be necessary in addressing very serious crimes like terrorist attacks. But, what is important is peaceful solutions through inclusive dialogue. This is what the Algerian Government has been providing very generously, with strong political commitment and engagement in the case of Libyan situation.

The situation in the Sahel that you mention is very, very dire and very dangerous. If we don’t address all of these security issues, together with development support, financial support, so that these countries can address all these issues, it will be very difficult.

I am asking the parties concerned in Libya to go beyond their narrow perspectives and just look to their better future. The establishment of a government of national accord must be realized as soon as possible. I am urging the House of Representatives to take immediate action and work closely with my Special Representative, Martin Kobler.

Q: [Question about US air strikes in Libya]

Secretary-General: When it comes to bombings in Libya, at that time, there was a Security Council resolution, clearly asking the Member States of the United Nations who had capacity to render whatever means possible, including air operations. At that time, as you may remember, several countries participated in a coalition in that operation. That is what we should understand.

When addressing extremism and terrorism we should take comprehensive measures.  As I said earlier in my remarks, there is no alternative to peaceful resolution of conflict through inclusive dialogue. That is the best way to address conflict. I sincerely hope that Member States of the United Nations [pay] more careful attention and use to their interest the Plan of Action of the United Nations to Prevent Violent Extremism, which I presented to the Member States, and that Member States adopted by unanimity last month. It contains many very useful recommendations so that Member States can take these recommendations in addressing violent extremism and terrorism, and in strengthening their capacity building of the countries.


Off-the-Cuff on 6 March 2016