Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations, 
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin, Mr. President, by congratulating you on your well deserved election. It is a great pleasure to see you - my friend and colleague - preside over the proceedings of the UN General Assembly during this session. My delegation is ready to provide its full support to you. Let me also express my gratitude to your predecessor, His Excellency Dr. Han Seung-soo for his dedication and accomplishment.

Slovakia welcomes Switzerland and East Timor as the newest Members of our Organization. We look forward to working closely with them in promoting peace, security and prosperity throughout the world.

Mr. President,

The terrorist attacks on the United States a year ago evoked worldwide anguish and outrage followed by an enormous solidarity of nations throughout the world and a firm stand of the worldwide coalition against the scourge of terror. At the end of the day those coward acts of terror have not reached their ultimate goal - chaos, anarchy and destruction of the world community. On the contrary, they have strengthen our resolution to seek world peace and security and to promote life in dignity and prosperity for all. Slovakia has pledged its full support for the antiterrorist coalition from the very beginning.

As the ruins of the World Trade Center were smoldering at the southern tip of Manhattan, the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Secretary-General acted quickly, resolutely and collectively. The United Nations proved to be crucial in the fight against terrorism, which should be maintained as a global campaign. Organizing this global task must be central to our efforts at the Untied Nations. We acknowledge the role of the UN in trying to raise the capacity of every member to defeat terrorism in a globally coordinated way and in conformity with Resolution 1373, which was passed unanimously by the Security Council last year.

Since September 11, the Slovak authorities have adapted and strengthened domestic legislation so it could be applied effectively against acts of terrorism. Depositing the instrument of ratification to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism earlier this month, Slovakia has become party to all 12 global international conventions and protocols against terrorism. Their provisions are already incorporated in our domestic legislation. We are committed to continue our cooperation in these endeavors with the relevant UN institutions.

Shortly following September 11, the Al-Qaeda network and the Taliban regime that harbored these terrorists were fought and disrupted. Organizing a global response to the political and humanitarian crises in Afghanistan became one of the crucial tasks at the Untied Nations. A chance for the people of Afghanistan to start rebuilding their country, fragmented for so long, has been offered. We commend the work of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the countries contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Slovakia is actively engaged in the reconstruction and rehabilitation process in Afghanistan. Our engineering unit was dispatched to take part in the Operation Enduring Freedom in August 2002.

Mr. President,

Slovakia reaffirms its commitment to arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We effectively participate in regional and global efforts in the field of disarmament and international security. The increased threat of international terrorism today gives rise to the questions of the relationship between terrorism and disarmament as well as the contributions that multilateral treaties and institutions in this field can make. We must make greater progress in achieving disarmament and non-proliferation goals, strengthen the verification and implementation mechanisms and thereby contribute to the creation of a safer world in which terrorism cannot breed and flourish. We will continue to work cooperatively and constructively in the pursuance of disarmament and arms limitation goals.

Mr. President,

Over the last decade we have witnessed an upsurge in ethnic, social and religious violence all over the world when simmering tensions and power struggles boiled over into open conflicts. The UN has been under increasing demand to intervene into these threats to international peace and security. As a result, peacekeeping has become more frequent and complex. The modern peacekeeping operations are multidimensional with tasks ranging from traditional deployment of military personnel, demining and medical support to verification, disarmament, rebuilding of infrastructure and facilitation of institution-building, democratization and election. The peacekeeping operations have changed also in terms of financial resources they require.

My Government has always been fully committed to the maintenance of international peace and security. Peacekeeping has always been an important aspect of our involvement in the United Nations activities. Slovakia currently provides military personnel and observers for seven UN peacekeeping missions, in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in Cyprus, in Iraq, in Jerusalem, on the Golan Heights, in Sierra Leone and in East Timor. The number of Slovak military personnel serving under the United Nations flag has steadily increased since the mid-1990s and currently it counts more than 600 troops apart from the number of the Slovak soldiers participating in missions in the Balkans under the NATO leadership. Slovakia will remain actively engaged in this crucial area of the UN responsibilities in the future.

Let me pay tribute to those courageous men and women from various nations contributing to the peace missions who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. My country also suffered lost of lives. Four brave Slovak men have been awarded in memoriam the Hammarskjold medal.

Mr. President,

The resolutions adopted by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter are legally binding. The failure of any member state to fulfill the requirements of the resolutions constitutes a breach of the UN Charter. The international community has in such cases the right to enforce the rule of law. We have carefully noted the decision of the Government of Iraq announced earlier this week to allow the return of UN weapons inspectors without conditions. Yet, this decision needs to be matched with further concrete steps which would provide for the swift and full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The question of Israel and Palestine has been occupying our attention since the United Nations Organization was founded. It is our common responsibility to achieve a comprehensive solution resulting in the existence of two states living side by side in peace, mutual respect and within secure and recognized borders. We fully support the efforts of the diplomatic Quarter on the Middle East to push forward the vision of peace in the region.

Mr. President,

Slovakia is fully committed to the rules and principles of international law and justice. In this context, we attach particular importance to the work of the International Court of Justice. The Court has proved to be a very useful institution for resolving the different interstate disputes, including some serious territorial disputes. This institutions deserves full support, including financial one, from the General Assembly. In the past, Slovakia together with its southern neighbor submitted to the Court their dispute. Now, having earlier recognized jurisdiction of the Court in relation to a number of European countries, we are in the process of preparing a declaration recognizing as compulsory the jurisdiction of the Court in general under article 36, paragraph 2 of the Statute.

We remain convinced that as the main repository of international law, the UN must play an important role in strengthening legal approaches to fight the most serious crimes of international concern. Slovakia fully supports the work of international criminal tribunals as well as the establishment of the International Criminal Court. We signed and ratified the Rome Statute of the Court. Slovakia became one of the countries whose ratification was necessary for the entry into force of the Statute on I July 2002. Despite various concerns and reservations of some of the UN Member States, we continue to believe that the ICC has the potential to promote the rule of law and to prevent impunity of persons who commit most serious crimes.

Mr. President,

Our position on the issue of the UN Security Council reform is linked to the importance of making the Organization more effective. Let me once again underline this position. In addition to maintaining its sufficient representativeness, the Security Council should also preserve sufficient operational flexibility. Slovakia supports the enlargement of the Security Council in both categories, non-permanent as well as permanent members. We consider fully justified that one additional non-permanent seat be allocated to the Group of Eastern European States as its membership has doubled in the last decade.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the world is becoming more and more global, the UN should respond to this development and become more and more universal. Concerns of all nations should be listened to irrespective of their size, geographic location, military strength or economic power.

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. We all live on one planet. Commonly, we all have to face the deterioration of environment and to adopt adequate measures to guarantee the sustainable development. The Millennium Declaration shows us the right way. Now the world community has to increase the efforts to meet all of its goals. The summits of Monterrey and Johannesburg proved that much can be achieved if decisions are based on global consensus. They also showed the power of the will and determination to tackle global issues. Now we have to concentrate on the fulfillment of our commitments. We need deeds. The UN should play a leading role in monitoring the implementation of our decisions. We need United Nations that is strong and efficient.

Thank you for your attention.