H. E. Mr. Eduard KUKAN
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC
IN THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 56th SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK 15 NOVEMBER 2001
(CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY)
At the outset, I wish to join other distinguished speakers in warmly
congratulating you on your election as President of the 56th General Assembly.
It is my deep conviction that in this difficult situation we will, under
your experienced leadership, materialise the expectations of the international
community which has always desired to view the UN as a reliable guarantor
of the world peace. I recall our recent meeting in Seoul and it is a pleasure
for me to see you presiding the General Assembly this year. I also wish
to thank your predecessor, Mr. Holkeri, for his hard work, dedication and
leadership in chairing the 55th United Nations General Assembly.
The recent brutal terrorist attack against our host country which has left all of us in a deep shock was, undoubtedly, also directed against the UN - its principles and values which we as Member States share. This inhuman act has been an attack on all of us. However, it has united the international community, which realised the potential danger and threat of terrorism for the existence of human civilisation. International community has responded in the only appropriate way: international terrorism cannot be tolerated, all nations of the world must stand united in the battle against this evil and they have to vigorously search for ways to effectively respond to it.
We were relieved to see the United Nations acting promptly and in a very determined way, adopting on the very next day the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, urging the international community to redouble its efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts by increased co-operation and full implementation of the relevant international anti-terrorist conventions and Security Council resolutions. In particular, the Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) is of a great importance and must be fully implemented.
We appreciate that after the terrorist attacks, countries and international organisations have manifested moral maturity and capacity to closely co-operate and co-ordinate their actions in the fight against world terrorism. We welcome the active and irreplaceable role the UN plays in this fight. As UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan explicitly stated in his response to the arrogant and disdainful words of Bin Laden addressed to the UN that people will understand that the position of the UN is the expression of the will of all its Members.
A year ago, many of my distinguished colleagues and myself, elaborated
on the role of the UN in combating international terrorism. The Slovak
Republic has joined the anti-terrorist coalition swiftly, without any hesitations
and effectively. It will remain a firm part of the coalition of nations
and people resolved to fight terrorism and determined to face this threat
to peace and security on our planet. The Slovak Republic is a party to
eleven out of twelve universal anti-terrorist conventions. Shortly, we
hope to ratify the UN Convention against Financing of Terrorism which we
signed last January. We call on all other countries to redouble our efforts
in order to achieve speedy conclusion of a comprehensive convention against
The terrorist attack has certainly changed our perception of the world. A re-assessment of international arrangements is a necessity in this context. After a period of mostly emotional reactions, we now need more qualified answers supported with resolve and responsibility. I am convinced that this resolve and responsibility will be translated into executive actions and systemic steps by the United Nations.
It is in particular the legal instruments devised here in the UN that
constitute a good basis for deepening the effectiveness of the fight against
terrorism. Although using the words of an aphorist (Blaise Pascal), I want
to emphasise that the only thing that remains to be done is to implement
all the good principles, which are already laid down. It is good and encouraging
when the words of comforting assurances, ideas and commitments coming from
high representatives of Member States of this most universal international
community uttered at this forum are prevailingly sharing this spirit. Slovakia
fully associates itself with them. In this context, we wish to express
our hope that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court enters
into force sometime next year and thus the international community establishes
a body that will terminate the impunity of most serious crimes, including
crimes against humanity.
The world is offered a unique opportunity to achieve progress in tackling long-lasting conflicts through joint efforts. Slovakia considers the UN Peacekeeping Operations one of the key and most visible aspects of the activities of this organisation. We view all UN activities in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peace support and peace building as particularly important. It is the people in the regions suffering from conflicts who look at our organisation with hope and we shall not let them down. With great attention and devotion of a country that is materially and personally involved, we welcome and actively participate in the discussions aimed at the improvement of efficiency and reform of UN Peacekeeping. We are ready to continue contributing in every possible way with our share to this noble endeavour. The participation of the Slovak Republic in the UN Peacekeeping Operations has grown almost six times since the beginning of 2000. This year we have taken part in the UN mission in East Timor where we deployed level II hospital. In Cyprus, the Slovak contingent has replaced Austria and has become the lead nation in Sector 4. We have sent our demining experts and other personnel to the UNMEE Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
I would also like to add my personal creed to this elaboration on the
engagement of my country: In the last two years, the UN Secretary-General
entrusted me with an exceptionally demanding and responsible task - to
serve as his Special Envoy for the Balkans, to oversee the peace-solutions
of the still smouldering conflict in Kosovo. Being also aware of the critical
importance of the forthcoming elections in Kosovo under the supervision
of the UNMIK, I am now in the position to state a single critical thesis:
that. area must stay multi-ethnic and the international community must
continue to be consistent in its relevant policies.
Slovakia as a country experiencing dynamic development and sharing a great interest in the stable international development and prosperity of the international community, has also the ambition to play a more visible role in the United Nations. Our Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda also clearly expressed our stance to many other topics and challenges at the last year's Millennium Summit. The spirit of respectable millennium initiatives and issues would bring the best fruit through their unrestricted practical implementation, though, new, so far unknown hindrances have appeared on this way.
Our position on the issue of the UN Security Council reform is linked
to the importance of making the Organisation more effective. Let's be honest
in admitting that we have not been fully successful in achieving this goal
for years and now we will have to cope with new unprecedented challenges.
In my letter to the previous President of the UN General Assembly, I emphasized
that in addition to maintaining sufficient representativeness, the Security
Council should also preserve sufficient operational flexibility. We also
hold that the Security Council should base its decision-making on majority
voting and the right of veto should only be reserved for decisions taken
under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Slovakia supports the enlargement
of the Security Council in both categories, non-permanent as well as permanent
members. However, the failure to achieve consensus on the enlargement of
one category should not result in blocking the enlargement in another category.
I avail myself of this opportunity to confirm that while increasing the
number of the UN Security Council members in the category of elected non-permanent
members, we consider fully justified to allocate one additional seat to
the Group of Eastern European States. Its membership has doubled in the
Exceptionally urgent current challenges have cast a malicious shadow
of destruction over this year's agenda of the General Assembly which I
have not commented on in detail. I would like, however, to assure you that
Slovakia believes in the need of a universal world organisation which the
UN is - as a source of hope for a better and more just world. We have no
doubts about the irreplaceable role of the UN in tackling global issues.
Be it the protection of human rights, eradication of famine and poverty,
diseases, illiteracy or prevention of drug and arms proliferation or guarantees
of sustainable development. A life in dignity is really for all of us unthinkable
without the enduring involvement of the UN. However, it requires universal
respect of its paramount place in international life and joint co-operation
in intensifying its activities.
In conclusion, I would like to underline the feeling of deep satisfaction of my country and me personally, with the appointment of H. E. Mr. Kofi Annan to serve a second term as the United Nations Secretary-General. I also wish to voice our recognition of the honour given to him personally and to our universal world organisation through the prestigious and well deserved award of the centenary Nobel Peace Prize and congratulate him wholeheartedly on this achievement.