Luncheon of the Eastern European Group

– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at the Luncheon of the Eastern European Group


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

The last time we saw each other, like this, was at the beginning of May. At that meeting, hosted by Poland, I presented my vision as the Eastern European Group (EEG)-endorsed candidate for the President of the General Assembly (PGA) position. I am grateful for the support shown by EEG Member States for my election, and during the period I spent as the President-elect. It is an honor to stand before you, now, as the President of the General Assembly. I greatly appreciate the continued support of the EEG since assuming this position, and I look forward to our cooperation in the year ahead.

The General Debate is now over. But the hard – and substantive work – is still ahead of us. I want to briefly touch upon the experience of the past week.   In summary, for the first time since the 61st session that we had all Member States and all Observers taking the floor (196 statements). We had 77 Heads of State, 37 Heads of Government, we had 60 Ministers, and the rest were Vice-Presidents, Deputy Prime Ministers and so on. I was personally chairing some 20 hours of the General Debate. For the rest, I had members of my team in the room who were reporting immediately and directly to me. So I basically was familiar with all the statements.

Apart from that, I had close to 60 bilateral meetings and I had almost 30 speaking opportunities at different side events. The topics that were mentioned most frequently by the leaders from the podium: sustainable development, climate change, terrorism, nuclear weapons and here the reference was made to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in particular. The issue of UN reform was mentioned by many speakers and then also the issue of migration. These were probably the most frequent topics, most commonly mentioned by the speakers.

As expected, pressing global political and security developments acted in the General Debate. Almost all world leaders recognized the dangers related to the escalation of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Similar concerns were raised during my bilateral discussions. I met with DPRK on Saturday, after receiving his request earlier that morning. And I considered it my duty to convey these concerns directly to him.

I also met the President of the host country, with whom I had a fruitful discussion. President Trump spoke in favor of UN reform and a strong United Nations. I have also highlighted the importance of United Nations and its relevance when it comes to addressing global problems and global challenges. I have mentioned migration as an example of both a global challenge and a task ahead of us.

The General Debate is now over. But the hard – and substantive work – is still ahead of us.


President of the UN General Assembly

In my closing statement yesterday, I recalled the response of the wider membership to my priorities. Although I don’t want to repeat myself, let me reiterate the overwhelming support to the UN’s role in:

  • prioritizing peace and prevention,
  • upholding human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law
  • and finally, in supporting dialogue and ensuring inclusivity as our working methods.

I will use this opportunity to stress, again, that I am determined to ensuring that our discussions are as open, inclusive and transparent as possible.

Tomorrow I will convene the High-level meeting on the Appraisal of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. In October, substantive work will continue on the Global Compacts related to Migrants and Refugees. I also intend to introduce the roadmap to lead us towards the high-level event on Sustaining Peace, which will take place in April 2018.

The work of the main committees of the General Assembly will soon begin. Following established practice, I will address all six committees. I will also closely follow their work over the coming months.

I am looking forward to the constructive engagement of the EEG Member States throughout the session. I will be grateful for the same kind of support you have shown me so far.

Thank you for your attention.