Secretary-General's press encounter with President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso [unofficial transcript]
Brussels, Belgium, 24 January 2007SG: Thank you very much, President Barroso, for your very warm welcome, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I am very much impressed by the big turnout of the press here. I see the high level of expectation on my job as Secretary-General of the United Nations, which humbles me, before all the challenges and issues that I will have to deal with in close coordination with the European Union and European Commission.
The European Union and the United Nations have maintained a very strong partnership and I regard the European Union´s contribution as vitally important for the work of the United Nations. We share the same goals and principles: pursuing peace and prosperity and protecting human rights all around the world. The European Union has been providing financial and political contributions to the work of the United Nations throughout the world, including development strategies and all the global issues like fighting international terrorism, protecting human rights, and fighting against pandemic diseases like HIV/AIDS.
I am very pleased to visit the European Commission on the first stop of my official visit outside the United Nations. I am going to participate together with President Barroso tomorrow in an international conference on Lebanon´s reconstruction, which is also one of the most important, serious areas to which the international community needs to pay attention and cooperate. We need to help the Iraqi government and people to restore political, and social and economic stability.
I am also going to participate in an African Union Summit meeting which will be held in Addis Ababa next week, and I am going to engage in a dialogue with many African leaders, including the President of Sudan, to discuss the Darfur crisis. There are many regional issues in addition to Darfur - Chad and Somalia.and Côte d'Ivoire - and many other issues. I am going to deal with all these issues.
My priority while dealing with all these global and regional issues. I am also very committed to reform and change at the United Nations. Many people have been questioning the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations, and we need to make the United Nations reformed to be able to more effectively and more efficiently address all the challenges, all the conventional and unconventional challenges, which lie ahead. We need collective wisdom and collective efforts. In that effort we need the European Union´s and the European Commission´s help and cooperation, which will be very much appreciated. Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Italy - as a non permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations - has announced its intention, on behalf of Europe as well, to propose a moratorium on the death penalty. Will you as Secretary-General do your best to support this initiative? Thank you.
SG: Life is very precious and every human being has a right to live with dignity, and the lives of human beings must be respected and protected. In the international community, international law and domestic practices, there is some growing tendency to see some phasing out of the death penalty, and I encourage that trend. At the same time, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, while the international community is debating and discussing this issue, I sincerely hope that all the members of the international community should respect and comply with all the existing international humanitarian laws.
Q: Mr. Ban Ki-moon, after the final proposals of Mr. [Martti] Ahtisaari, which are expected in the month of February, will there be a new resolution on Kosovo in March, or what is the time table? And when do you plan to withdraw the UNMIK mission, to be replaced by a strictly European mission there?
SG: The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ahtisaari, has been engaged in this process a long time, and I understand that he is going to present his report to the parties concerned to have their views, during the month of February. I am going to meet with him in Paris to discuss these issues, and then the report may be presented to the Security Council. I understand that there are some discussions going on even among the European Union countries and there are also some members within the Security Council who are actively and seriously discussing this matter. I hope, first of all, that the Security Council members will discuss this, and as Secretary-General, I will also try to continue to coordinate, as well as consult on this matter, with the parties and the countries concerned.
Q: How much will the bad experience of the UN and the tragic failure to prevent genocide in Srebrenica help you to learn the lesson and transform the United Nations so it will be able to prevent those things in the future? And if the status of Kosovo is not decided on time within the United Nations, then some countries in the world will have to act unilaterally -- so are you sure that finally the UN will be able to decide on something about the Balkans, because legally it is up to you and the UN to decide on Kosovo's status? Thank you.
SG: As a matter of principle, the international community - the United Nations - must try its best efforts to prevent any occurrence of genocide. We have learned a great lesson from the Rwanda genocide, and the international community must work to prevent an occurence of this kind of situation. Now there are still many areas where people are suffering from violence and civilian killings and that is why I am very much committed to work on these matters in many areas of regional conflict.
On the Kosovo situation, as I told you earlier, this is now being considered among the parties concerned. At this time I am not in a position to say anything to prejudge any result on this matter. This has been studied and negotiated by my Special Representative during the last several years and he is almost in a position to be ready to present his own report now – recommendations - which should be the subject for debate within the United Nation system, so before that I will continue to coordinate and discuss with parties concerned, including the European Union. In fact in this morning´s meeting with the European Union´s and Commission´s leaders, I have also discussed this matter, this issue. Thank you.
Q: On the subject of sanctions, it is an established fact that populations of a country suffer most. I have seen that personally. Do you have any personal opinion on sanctions during your tenure, and do you feel that these are also falling as excuses in the hands of the rulers who point to them as an excuse?
SG: Each and every Member State of the international community, particularly members of the United Nations, has an obligation to comply with the rules and regulations and resolutions adopted by the United Nations. When there is a serious violation of Charter provisions or other regulations which threatens peace and security of the international community, then the Security Council decides to take necessary measures. The sanction measures are taken up by the Security Council in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and all the countries who are involved in the sanctions have obligations to comply with [them]. This is nothing to do with any major, as you say, so-called rulers. There is no such ruler in this world.
Q: For ten years, two men have been violating international justice, [Radovan] Karadic and [Radko] Mladic, who are being pursued for genocide by the Court [Tribunal] for the former Yugoslavia which was set up by the United Nations. Does it mean that because of these two men, the Court [Tribunal] might shut down without having done its work and may go down in history as something of a farce, because it will not judge those responsible for the latest genocide to take place on the European continent? I would like to know what you intend to do or what you're able to do for these presumed war criminals. Will you be able to bring them finally for justice before this court set up by the international community?
SG: The ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia] was established by the Security Council in accordance with provisions of the Charter to bring those people responsible to justice. The international community must cooperate fully to have everybody who is responsible for crimes against humanity, to [bring] them to justice. And I as a Secretary-General will cooperate fully with countries concerned. And I urge again, the countries concerned should fully cooperate with this. Thank you.
Q: What about Cyprus? Is the Cyprus question still a priority for you and can we count on the initiative of you and the United Nations about Cyprus?
SG: There was continued effort by the United Nations, including my predecessor, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He put forward his own proposals in 2004. Unfortunately, this proposal was not accepted by the two parties. Now, last year, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari, had a meeting with the leaders of the two sides, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and there was an agreement between the two leaders. It is important that the two leaders and the two [communities] should implement this agreement which was agreed last year. I will ensure to encourage them as well as to ensure the implementation of this agreement, which has been agreed between the leaders. It is very important to implement was has been agreed.
Off-the-Cuff on 24 January 2007
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