Activities of Secretary-General in Belgium, 22-24 April

15 May 2009

Activities of Secretary-General in Belgium, 22-24 April

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Brussels, Belgium from Valletta, Malta, in the early evening of Wednesday, 22 April.  Upon arrival in Brussels on Wednesday evening, he had a working dinner with Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy at his official residence.  They discussed the donors’ conference to be held the following day for Somalia, Afghanistan and the upcoming presidential elections there, nuclear disarmament, Lebanon, Gaza and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General held a breakfast meeting with José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.  Also present were Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner responsible for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy.  They discussed Somalia and the creation of two trust funds for the Somali national security institutions and one for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  On Somalia, they also discussed the piracy issue and the need to assist on the development of the country.  Other subjects discussed were Afghanistan and the need to strengthen institutions, Sri Lanka, Sudan, climate change and food security.  The Secretary-General and Mr. Barroso later spoke to the press.

That morning, the Secretary-General addressed the International Conference in support of the Somalia Security Institutions and the African Union Mission in Somalia.  He said that piracy is not a water-borne disease, but rather a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground.  Dealing with it, he said, requires an integrated strategy that addresses the fundamental issue of lawlessness in Somalia.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12203)

He said we must ensure that AMISOM has what it needs to fulfil the mandate authorized by the African Union and the United Nations Security Council.  At the same time, he reminded all Member States of the critical funding shortage for the World Food Programme’s Emergency Operation, which still requires $168 million through the end of 2009.

The strategy for Somalia, he emphasized, is based on a new partnership among the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, donors and the Somalis themselves.

Other meetings held that morning were with Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moses Wetangula, Foreign Minister of Kenya, and Kipruto arap Kirwa, Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) facilitator to the Somalia Peace and National Reconciliation.

The Secretary-General attended a ministerial luncheon hosted by Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, after which they met with the press.  Mr. Ban welcomed the generous contributions made at the conference, where more than $200 million were pledged.  He said that he is both hopeful and realistic about Somalia’s prospects: hopeful at the strong support and political will that has been shown, and realistic about the need for patience and constant commitment.

During that press conference, the Secretary-General also expressed his concern about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka and strongly urged all the parties concerned to respect the call of the Security Council, without further delay.  Too many lives are at stake.  The United Nations stands ready to do whatever it can to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and to protect the civilian population.

The Secretary-General departed Brussels for New York in the morning of Friday, 24 April.

For information media. Not an official record.