15 April 2012

Secretary-General's joint press conference with Mr. Elio Di Rupo, Prime Minister of Belgium [Q&A below]

[Translated from French]
I am very honoured to be in Belgium today. It’s my third visit to Belgium. I have congratulated the Prime Minister for his nomination. I do hope that we will closely work together to face all the challenges we will encounter. 
Belgium is a partner. I am very pleased that the UN and Belgium have such an excellent relationship. I hope that under your leadership we will closely work together. Today we have discussed a wide variety of subjects, including the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan. We have also discussed the issue of sustainable development.
[Original English]
We are very happy to have such a strong support and generous contribution of the Belgian government. I regard Belgium as a very strong Partner of the United Nations and that is why when I was first elected as Secretary-General, this is the first country I visited in early 2007 in January, and I’m also very happy to visit Belgium at such an early stage of my second term as Secretary-General. That means I attach great importance in maintaining such a good relationship with Belgium.
On the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), I really appreciate Belgium’s contributions. And I understand that the Foreign Minister was in DRC last month. We have been working very closely to help peace and stability in DRC.
We discussed in length about how we can work together to make this sustainable development a great success for humanity and this is a once in a lifetime, once-in-a-generation opportunity to address; starting from climate change, the water issue, the energy issue and global health, gender empowerment, healthy oceans and all other global challenges will be discussed in a more comprehensive and integrated manner. And I am very much encouraged that the Prime Minister has assured himself that he will be participating in that Summit meeting. I am now working with all world leaders so that they could come and exercise their political leadership. These issues are very difficult and complex issues that should not be left only to the negotiators. We need some political direction on all these issues.
I am also very happy to visit, from tomorrow, the European Commission and European Union and I am looking forward to having my meetings with President Barroso and President Van Rompuy and High Representative Catherine Ashton to discuss all the policy matters, regional conflict issues as well as development issues, particularly. My participation in the EU Summit on Energy will be a very important agenda this time.
Again, briefly, I just stated my appreciation to the Prime Minister and I wish him all the best, and I am very happy that Belgium has formed a government after such a long time.  But I am sure that with its diversity, Belgium will continue to prosper and I wish you all the best and thank you very much for your hospitality.
Thank you, Prime Minister.
Q: Do you consider the ceasefire in Syria still standing?
SG: I had in-depth discussions yesterday with Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan in Geneva, and I welcome the unanimous adoption of the Security Council Resolution allowing us to deploy a monitoring team. At the same time, as I have been stating previously, since a while, we welcome this cessation of violence at this time. I warn that the whole world is watching with sceptical eyes whether this will be able to be sustainable. It is important, absolutely important that the Syrian government should take all the measures to keep this cessation of violence.
Again, I am very much concerned about what has happened since yesterday and today. The Syrian government has been shelling the city of Homs, and as well we have seen already some casualties and populations killed. I urge again in the strongest possible terms, that this cessation of violence must be kept.
Our advanced monitoring team must be now in Damascus and they will be up running from Monday, tomorrow, and I am going to present my concrete proposals for an enlarged official monitoring team for over 250 people by Thursday 18 April. And I hope the Security Council will act on that as soon as possible, so that we will swiftly deploy this monitoring team. Once the monitoring team is on the ground I hope there will be calm and stability and peace without any violence. At the same time, we expect that as a next step the political dialogue should continue for a political resolution of this issue respecting and reflecting the aspirations and wishes of the Syrian people, that should be Syrian-led and the United Nations will continue to mobilize humanitarian assistance and resources.
As I said yesterday, the Syrian Humanitarian Forum will be held in Geneva on Friday, April 20, and we expect the generous support from the international community so that we can deliver on this humanitarian assistance to many needy people. There are at least one million people internally displaced in Syria and there are tens of thousands of refugees in the neighbouring countries, starting from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. These are all very serious challenges which require urgent, urgent action. First and foremost this violence must stop. Thank you very much.
Q: Just a comment if you would Mr. Ban on the talks on Iran on Saturday; the comments coming out of the meeting was a good thing or a positive set of talks, also the timing was good. Is that your understanding of them and do you expect to see measures to build confidence from Iran before the next round of talks on May the 23rd?
SG: It was good in any case that dialogue took place between P5+1 and Iran. Nobody expected that it would be an easy process but I'm encouraged that they agreed to meet again in May in Iraq; I understand that they're going to meet on May 23.
I'm going to have discussions with High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton tomorrow to get her own detailed assessment. I, again, sincerely hope that these Iranian nuclear issues will be resolved peacefully as soon as possible. I have been making it again clearly all the times to Iranian authorities, the onus is on Iran to prove that their nuclear development programme is genuinely for peaceful purposes but they have not yet done so. But at the same time they should be able to convince the international community and resolve these issues through negotiations with the P5+1.
Thank you very much.