I am pleased to be back in Indonesia just four months after my visit in Bali to participate in the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] summit meeting under the leadership of President Yudhoyono.
This morning, the President Yudhoyono and I had very constructive and useful discussions covering all the matters starting from bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and the United Nations, and also cooperation between the United Nations and ASEAN, and regional conflict issues and global challenges.
I thanked President Yudhoyono for Indonesia’s active engagement with the United Nations.
We discussed, as President Yudhoyono just introduced, Indonesia’s contribution to the UN peacekeeping, the Millennium Development Goals, Rio+20, sustainable development and democratic governance.
We also covered all these regional issues, including cooperation between ASEAN and the UN, Timor-Leste and Cambodia-Thailand.
The President briefed me on Indonesia’s efforts to consolidate democracy and enhance its regional and international role. I encouraged the President to continue this through an inclusive and democratic process.
I expressed my appreciation for Indonesia’s leadership in promoting regional and international peace, security and cooperation.
I particularly recognised with deep appreciation Indonesia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which was deposited to me last month by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on the instruction of President Yudhoyono.
Indonesia is leading the process of making the UN-ASEAN Comprehensive Partnership a reality. I fully support this initiative.
The bond between Indonesia and the United Nations has always been strong. Our ties deepened even more through the tragedy of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. We remain committed to the recovery.
Later this morning, I will deliver a lecture at the Peace and Security Centre on UN peacekeeping.
I look forward to commending Indonesia for its invaluable contribution to our operations. Some 2,000 Garuda troops serve in six of the UN’s most difficult missions: in Lebanon, Haiti, Darfur, Liberia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
For decades, Indonesia has written a proud history of service.
But this country also has paid a terrible price.
Thirty-one Indonesians lost their lives in UN peacekeeping.
I mourn with their loved ones and Indonesia. Their deaths were a loss to the world.
I am deeply grateful for the service of all Indonesians working for the United Nations.
I also appreciate Indonesia’s intention to increase its peacekeeping contribution.
In this regard I have asked President Yudhoyono to consider positively contributing critical air assets like helicopters, which we are in great need of.
I constantly urge Member States to contribute troops and equipment, especially helicopters.
Mr. President, you are the only leader of any nation in the world who has served as a UN Blue Helmet. You understand the challenges we face from experience. My deepest admiration and respect for your strong commitment and contribution to peace and security of the world.
You are also the first UN Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction. I am grateful for your work, including your plans to chair the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in October.
I also deeply appreciate your advocacy of critical global issues, including climate change, sustainable development and non-proliferation and disarmament.
I am confident that my visit will strengthen our strong partnership.
Again thank you Mr. President, and I will now take questions.
Q: Good morning Mr. President. Good morning Your Excellency Mr. Ban. My name is Wella. I am journalist working for VOA (Voice of America) Indonesian service. I would like to ask two questions. The first about the current situation in Syria, with the escalation of the violence there. What’s your response? What’s the UN response? The second one is about the Strait of Hormuz.
SG: The situation in Syria has become now the most troubling and most concerning issue for the international community and for humanity. It has been over a year now since the beginning of this democratic movement in Syria. Syrian people under such very difficult and dangerous situations, despite many human losses, have been continuously and courageously speaking out asking for their legitimate right of dignity and freedom of speech, freedom of association, and their human rights. More than 8,000 people have been killed. This situation has reached an unacceptable, intolerable situation now. The international community has been speaking out and President Assad, he has not heeded yet.
In close cooperation with the League of Arab States, I have appointed my predecessor, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as Joint Special Envoy. He had two meetings with President Assad. I have dispatched my humanitarian coordinator to find out the possibility of establishing humanitarian access to many needy people.
Our priorities at this time are three. First, the stopping of the violence by any side, and stopping the killing of people. Second, engage in inclusive political dialogue to have a political solution to this issue where the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Syrian people will be fully respected. Thirdly, establish on an urgent basis humanitarian access, unhindered humanitarian access, so that the people who have been suffering could get the humanitarian assistance.
At this time, as of now, the expert-level people are in Damascus to discuss the ways and means to implement the concrete proposals which were put forward by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan. And a humanitarian team, together with the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), is now meeting with the Syrian Government humanitarian assessment team. There are two missions now working very seriously in Damascus at this time.
I sincerely hope that the international community will continue to speak with one voice, and particularly the Security Council. I hope that it will be able to be united, so they can speak with one voice. I appreciate that many countries have been working tirelessly, who have been really trying to overcome this crisis through their diplomatic efforts, and I sincerely hope that we will continue to address this crisis. We have no time to waste, no time to lose. Just one minute, one hour, delay will mean the death of more and more people. This is our moral and political responsibility as the international community. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, this is the top most important priority at this time.
On the situation in Hormuz. The Strait of Hormuz is a very important area for international trade and navigation. Free navigation should be respected, in accordance with the relevant international law, particularly the Law of the Sea. I sincerely hope that, first of all, the Parties concerned will engage in very serious dialogue and de-escalate the tensions in this region. It is very important that all the pending issues should be resolved in a peaceful manner through dialogue. Thank you very much.
Q: Good morning, Mr. President. Good morning, Your Excellency. My name is Grace from Antara TV, Indonesia’s news agency. I want to ask you, what are your expectations about Indonesia’s role in the future, in tackling global issues such as peace, democracy, environment, and [the future of] humanity?
SG: That is a very important question. That is why I am here; to discuss how we can expect Indonesia to continue to play [its role] not only for the peace and stability of Indonesia, also beyond this region, how Indonesia can contribute to regional and international issues, working together with the United Nations. As a vibrant pluralistic and tolerant democracy with a Muslim majority, Indonesia can play a very important role beyond this region. That is what has been demonstrated by His Excellency President Yudhoyono. As one of the leaders of G20, and one of the founding members and chairs of ASEAN, and as a very important member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the G-77, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Indonesia has been expanding its diplomatic horizons, widely and deeply.
This is what I see as very encouraging, and this is what I expect Indonesia will continue to do. Indonesia has also been contributing greatly, as I mentioned earlier in my earlier remarks, to world peace and security by providing almost 2,000 peacekeepers to six UN missions. Indonesia is now currently the 16th country out of 114 countries that are contributing to UN peacekeeping. This is a remarkable contribution. I sincerely hope that as a G20 member, Indonesia, as one of the emerging countries, can make a great contribution to addressing the international financial crisis. Indonesia is on the rise, we can expect [a lot], and I really count on President Yudhoyono’s leadership in the international arena. Thank you very much.