Amman, Jordan

21 November 2012

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan [unofficial transcript]

SG: It is a great pleasure to be here in Amman again.  I just wanted to visit Amman at this critical time when we were working hard to draw up a ceasefire in Gaza.  I thank his Majesty, King Abdullah, for his flexibility and invitation at such short notice.

As Foreign Minister Judeh has explained, His Majesty King Abdullah and I have had a long conversation over dinner.  We obviously discussed this evening’s Gaza ceasefire agreement and our respective efforts to contribute to a rapid restoration of durable calm and to the humanitarian emergency. I warmly welcome the ceasefire agreement. I commend the parties for stepping back from the brink, and I commend President Morsi of Egypt for his exceptional leadership.

Our focus now must be on ensuring a ceasefire holds and that all those in need in Gaza - and there are many - receive the humanitarian assistance they need.  His Majesty has kindly offered Jordan’s help on this, including medical services. 

It is a huge [inaudible] for the people of Gaza and Israel and for the international community that the violence needs to stop.  But we are aware of the risks. And we are aware that there are many details that must be solidified for the ceasefire to take a firm hold over the longer term.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very sensitive to the plight of Jordan, which has been shouldering decades after decade, the effects of the crises around it: yesterday Iraq, today Syria, and also, of course, the stalled efforts towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.

I am also here to convey a message of support to Jordan’s resilient efforts in favour of the peace process. I know how much is at stake for Jordan, and I can reassure you that I will continue to exert all possible efforts to help Israel and the Palestinians achieve a two-State solution that both sides have committed to.  I am convinced that the Palestinians should have an independent, viable and democratic State of their own living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security. This is long overdue, and paramount for the stability of the region. But there is no substitute to meaningful negotiations to achieve this vision. This must remain our collective priority.

His Majesty King Abdullah and I also discussed the deepening conflict in Syria.  It is crucial for the international community to support the work of Joint Special Representative, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, towards an inclusive Syrian-led political transition that will address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. 

We are gravely concerned about the continued militarization of the conflict, horrendous violations of human rights and the risk of Syria turning into a regional battleground as violence intensifies.  

We are also alarmed by the humanitarian situation in Syria which continues to deteriorate.  More civilians are being displaced within Syria, and an increasing number of Syrians are seeking safety in neighbouring countries, especially in Jordan. I am deeply grateful for the assistance provided by the Jordanian Government to Syrian refugees.

Jordan has long been a key partner of the United Nations, and our joint efforts are of immense importance at this time.  I thank His Majesty King Abdullah II for his strong support and leadership.

Finally let me conclude with a note of hope for the young generations. The Arab world is experiencing a period of intense and deep transformations. The changes are redefining the social contract and political systems, as well as reshaping the regional geopolitical order. This is a moment of opportunity for a better future, if change is achieved peacefully, and a genuine commitment to pluralism and mutual respect. On this path, young people and women have a special role and need to be fully engaged and empowered. The Arab world is at a crossroads. I am committed to support the Arab countries in transition and the people’s struggle for democracy, justice, human rights and economic opportunity. Jordan has an important role to play in this regard, and can lead by example.

Thank you.  Shukran jazeelan.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, what are the chances that this new ceasefire will succeed? Are there any guarantees that both sides will commit to the new agreement?
SG: That is the most important part of this ceasefire.  While world leaders have been discussing this matter, particularly focused under President Morsi’s auspices, on how this ceasefire can be sustainable, and how these parties can keep their promises – on that I urge the parties who have agreed to this ceasefire.agreement must keep their promise. There may be still other challenges and hurdles in the course of implementing this. I would urge them to exercise maximum restraint, patience, with a sense of mutual understanding. This is very important. I know that the parties will sit down together to detail out implementing the provisions of this. This will be still very important and hard. But we are encouraged and we are relieved that they have decided to agree to hold fire. This is a very important and historic moment. I again appreciate all the parties, particularly leaders of Egypt and also Israel and Palestine who have decided to think about humanity and human rights.
Q:  What are the terms of the ceasefire?
SG: First they will stop firing, immediately, and then they will work out how this will be sustainable. I am not going to comment on detailed matters; because it is up to the parties.  We have been discussing in detail with the leaders of Egypt and the Palestinians, but this will continue under the auspices of Egyptian presidential leadership. I sincerely hope that they will finalize all the details as soon as possible.