Activities of Secretary-General in Austria, 15-17 February

21 February 2012

Activities of Secretary-General in Austria, 15-17 February

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Vienna on the afternoon of Wednesday, 15 February, after an overnight flight from New York via Paris.

That evening, the Secretary-General, a former Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Austria, opened a Korean Community Centre.

The next morning, Thursday, 16 February, the Secretary-General took part in the opening of the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners on Combating the Afghan Illicit Opiate Trade.  In remarks to the Conference, the Secretary-General said the drug trade was a threat to the well-being and development of Afghanistan and its neighbours.  He said the fight against that trade went to the heart of United Nations efforts in Afghanistan and the Organization’s work on reducing poverty.  (See Press ReleaseSG/SM/14110)

Next, the Secretary-General held talks with Austrian President Heinz Fischer at the Presidential Office.  After their talks, they gave a joint news conference, at which the Secretary-General said he was very grateful for Austria’s strong support for the United Nations.  He said he and the President had discussed many topics, including the rule of law, human rights, the protection of civilians, Libya, Iran, the Middle East peace process and Syria.  On Syria, the Secretary-General said the longer we debate what to do, the more people will die.  He again called for an end to all violence.

From the Presidential Office, the Secretary-General moved to Ceremonial Hall in the Hofburg Palace to deliver a speech to an audience of diplomats, Austrian officials and other representatives, including young people.  His address was entitled “Empowering People in a Changing World”, with a focus on women and youth.  The Secretary-General said we can apply the lessons we learn from women’s empowerment to the task of empowering young people.  He said that addressing the needs and hopes of the world’s women and young people was an act of necessity rather than simply an act of solidarity.  (See Press Release SG/SM/14112)

After a working lunch with ministers and other senior officials attending the Paris Pact Conference, the Secretary-General held a range of bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister Alain Juppé of France, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger of Austria, Secretary General Lamberto Zannier of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation and Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev  of Kyrgyzstan.

That evening the Secretary-General and Madam Ban attended the Annual Opera Ball at Vienna’s State Opera House as the guests of President Fischer and his wife.

Early on the morning of Friday, 17 February, the Secretary-General travelled to the United Nations headquarters in Vienna to attend a ceremony to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).  In remarks, the Secretary-General said he was strongly committed to a world free of nuclear tests and nuclear weapons.  He said the Treaty was a milestone and essential building block in strengthening the rule of law in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  He said that was why it was distressing that the Treaty had not yet entered into force.  He said we must continue to push for that goal, and that there was no good reason to avoid signing or ratifying the Treaty.  (See Press Release SG/SM/14115)

The Secretary-General also declared open the Vienna office of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  He said the new office responded to the growing need for cooperation in all areas of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.

The Secretary-General took part in a joint press conference with Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Wolfgang Waldner, State Secretary at Austria’s Foreign Ministery.

The Secretary-General, accompanied by Madam Ban, then left for New York, where they arrived the same afternoon.

For information media. Not an official record.