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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Press encounter by the Secretary-General and Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada at the Canadian Parliament (unofficial transcript)

Ottawa, Canada, 9 March 2004

Q: on Haiti [inaudible]

SG: This is why the security council authorized a multinational force to go in for the next three months to be followed up by a U.N. peacekeeping operation. But over and above the security requirements, we are going to need to help Haiti rebuild the nation -- Haitians rebuild their nation. We need to help them on humanitarian grounds and we launched a flash appeal out of Port-au-Prince for $35 million, urgent funds to be able to help on the humanitarian front. We need to help them rebuild the institution, judiciary, police, help with recovery and reconstruction. So there's a wide range of areas where we need to support the Haitians. In some of these areas, Canada brings a special expertise and can play an effective role and, in fact, play a leadership role in some of these areas, and we really look forward to working with the prime minister and Canada, but, of course, it will be up to the Prime Minister and the government to determine exactly what Canada will contribute, but we are looking to Canada for support and leadership.

Q: There have been reports in the press of a UN plan to broker peace between Israel and Syria. Could you give us some more information

SG: There is no such plan at the moment. I know you've read it and I`ve read it too. Let me say that there has been some discussions, working papers have been floating around as what one can do on the Syrian track when the time comes. I think that this is one of these documents that got into the press, but we have not tabled a formal plan.

Q: -- Of the working document, you mentioned?

SG: I beg your pardon?

Q: Could you give us more details of the working document that you mentioned?

SG: These working documents are internal documents which are not ready for publication.

Q: "Globe & mail", Secretary-General, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is calling on his supporters in Haiti to resist peacefully, but yet to resist. And you mentioned in your speech today that the international community must buttress democratic institutions. Is there some kind of a message here, the fact that a man who was elected president and now claims that he was forced out, is there a message to those who would solve Haiti he's political problems with weapons that, in fact, you can get away with this? And Prime Minister, this has also been an issue for Canada because you've been lumped together with France and the United States as part of a group of leaders as the Caribbean communities vice president described it to carry off a coup d'etat.

SG: I don't think anyone in the organization I work for or I personally would support a coup d'etat. I think if you look around the world, coup d'etats have been condemned all around. An organization like the African Union, in fact, has voted that they will never admit someone who comes to power through a coup d'etat in to their summits. The risk in Haiti is a peculiar one and it is a unique situation in that we had this deteriorating situation and with people bearing arms, rushing towards Port-au-Prince, and, of course, the security council when it met had been given a letter that Aristide had resigned and handed over to the Chief Justice. So the council acted on the basis of a letter of resignation and the transfer of power to the Chief Justice and determined that because of the volatile environment, a multi-national force should go in and help stabilize the situation for three months to be followed by a U.N. Force, and I don't think, and I was in the room when the council acted, that anyone in that room thought they were acting to support a coup d'etat.

Q: [inaudible]

SG: I beg your pardon?

Q: (inaudible).

SG: I've heard the statements made by president Aristide. I've also heard what the Americans have said as to how Aristide left the country, and I have to work on the basis of the council resolution, which the mandate was based and they acted on the basis of a letter of resignation.

Q: (Voice of interpreter): Secretary general, Prime Minister... (inaudible) You have said in your speech that the world failed collectively in areas like Haiti, famine, human rights. Canada is part of this community. It has, therefore, failed. What more do you expect from Canada today?

SG: (Voice of interpreter): Canada has always worked very closely with the United Nations in the area of development. Canada has given much aid. It has worked very well with developing countries, and we have all worked together with the millennium development goals. I believe that we must work in a partnership amongst developed -- between developed countries and developing countries to work towards those goals we have set for ourselves. Canada is already playing a leadership role which will allow the other developed countries to even better work together and to see that we can work together with developing countries. To surmount difficulties not only with respect to development but also with respect to humanitarian interests, as well as governance and, as I said this morning, the fight against AIDS in which Canada has been a great leader. That is very important.

Q: So you have no criticism for Canada

SG: (Voice of interpreter): I believe, no, things are going very well at the present. Of course when can always do better, but I am very happy with what Canada is doing.

Q: (Voice of interpreter): Today in “Le Monde”, there is a report from a French investigative judge looking at the plane crash that killed Rwandan President Habyarimana which says that the UN has obstructed the investigation and further claims that the UN is holding the “black box” from the Presidential plane. The report also says that current Rwandan President Paul Kagame was behind this attack. Do you have any comments?

SG: (Voice of interpreter): I am surprised that someone is claiming we have the black box. If we had it, we would have made it known because we have no interest in blocking investigations or any legal proceedings. This accusation surprises me.

Q: (Voice of interpreter): Can you give us something in French on Haiti? Canada has contributed in the past the last time helping to form a police force and the Aristide government's need for that. What is going to happen now? Are you going to see -- what can you do to see that Canadian money will not be spent in vain this time?

SG: (Voice of interpreter): I believe we certainly want to avoid errors that were made in the past, and we want to work very closely with Haitians to ensure that the country will be able to move ahead, that the money that is given to it will be used properly. The international community will remain involved and with them. As of today we want to put Haiti and the needs of Haitians at the very centre of what we were doing. We've had programs in the past, but I do believe there are lessons to be drawn from the past. We can look to the future. I'm persuaded that we will be able to make progress, but that does take time. That will take time, a lot of time. It is not one year or two, it will take much more time. It could be ten years or more. One must have patience.