02 April 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at press conference with Prime Minister Antoni Martí of Andorra

SG: Excellency, Prime Minister Martí,

This is a great honour for me to be the first United Nations Secretary-General to visit Andorra. I thank Prime Minister Martí, and the Government and people of Andorra for your warm hospitality and friendship. The principality of Andorra was formed in the year 1283. After more than 700 years of independence, peace and prosperity, your 1993 Constitution consolidated the international legal character of your country. I am happy that Andorra took swift action to join the United Nations and I am delighted to celebrate with you today the 20th anniversary of Andorra’s membership in the United Nations.

I’m grateful for Andorra’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights, gender empowerment and the rule of law – the core values of the United Nations. You’re helping to show how small states can really contribute to global peace and sustainable development.

I look forward to speaking about this in greater detail in my address to the Parliament later this afternoon. I also recognize your ongoing efforts to make Andorra’s economy more transparent and internationally competitive, and urge you to continue to advance economic, democratic principles. This includes by signing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. I thank Prime Minister Martí’s commitment to make progress by signing this International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

And I have highly commended the commitment of the Andorran Government and people in enhancing gender equality and gender empowerment. You are one of just two countries who have met the realization of 50-50 gender parity, particularly in the National Parliament, the General Council. I hope that this will inspire many countries around the world for gender empowerment.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me reiterate my gratitude for the opportunity to visit Andorra at this very auspicious and happy occasion when you celebrate the 20th anniversary of signing the Constitution and joining the United Nations. As Secretary-General, I’m committed to work very closely with the Andorran Government and people in promoting peace and security, development, sustainable development and human rights, which are the three core values of the United Nations Charter.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Prime Minister, before I turn to your questions, let me say just a few words about the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

I am deeply troubled.

As Secretary-General, it is my duty to prevent war and to pursue peace.

It is also my responsibility to state that the current crisis has already gone too far.

Nuclear threats are not a game.

Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counter-actions, and fuel fear and instability.

Things must begin to calm down, as this situation, made worse by the lack of communication, could lead down a path that nobody should want to follow.

There is no need for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to be on a collision course with the international community.  I am convinced that nobody intends to attack the DPRK because of disagreements about its political system or foreign policy.

However, I am afraid that others will respond firmly to any direct military provocation.

Dialogue and negotiations are the only way to resolve the current crisis.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am ready to help the parties to embark on this journey.

Thank you. Gracias.

Q: [question in Cata on Andorra’s international role]

SG: In the last twenty years, since joining the United Nations, Andorra has expanded and deepened its global visibility and participation and engagement. One good example is that Andorra is now chairing the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe, focussing on human rights, rule of law, and education.

In the international arena, Andorra serves as an example for other countries by demonstrating social cohesion within this multilateral and multilingual society. It has also shown leadership through its ability to adapt quickly to changing economic and social situations, by opening its economy.

Andorra has made impressive progress when it comes to the political empowerment, as I said. Only within forty years since the beginning of women’s voting rights, you have reached the highest level of achievement when it comes to women’s empowerment. This is a highly commendable initiative and leadership.

I hope this will inspire many, many countries in the world. We have discussed extensively how Andorra can do more in promoting sustainable development, which is a number one priority of the United Nations, and I really count on the Prime Minister’s continued leadership and engagement on this matter.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, do you think that smaller states like Andorra are better situated to tackle economic crisis in the world?

SG: Nobody can do all things, but everybody has a role to play, whether big or small. Everybody can do something. This is what we say in solidarity and collective engagement and responsibility. The economic and social transformations and changes and difficulties are huge.  No country, however resourceful, maybe, can tackle this alone. That is why the European Union at this time, at the summit level, and the ministerial level, are meeting frequently to address this issue.

This global economic crisis or difficulties should be addressed collectively, with a collective leadership.  The G-20 leaders are meeting regularly and the United Nations is leading these discussions in improving global economic governance. Soon, this month, on 15 April, we are going to have a high-level thematic debate on global economic governance, and I am going to discuss continuously and closely with the G-20 chair and G-20 countries, particularly Russia.  The Sherpa of the Russian G-20 summit is coming to the UN to brief the Member States.

In any event, Andorra is clearly a small country, but you have been making an outsized contribution to the world economy, sustainable development, and human rights and education and all other issues are all depending upon the strong commitment and political leadership.

Q:  Mr. Secretary-General, I want to follow up on your statement on North Korea. How close are we to a new war in Asia?

SG:  I am deeply concerned about the current state of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Peace and stability in and around the Korean Peninsula has very important regional and even global implications. The Korean Peninsula has been divided for six decades. I have been urging the parties concerned to resolve all pending issues through dialogue and through peaceful means. But this rising rhetoric and threats by the DPRK authorities has gone too far, and it has heightened the level of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. That is why I am taking this opportunity visiting Andorra to make a special mention and to send out my message as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Nobody wants to see any outbreak of conflict on the Korean Peninsula – not only on the Korean Peninsula; around the world. I urge again the authorities of the DPRK to fully abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions and refrain from making further provocative measures. This is clearly in line with Security Council resolutions. While condemning the recent nuclear weapons test, the Security Council members in this resolution [have] clearly urged them to refrain from making any further provocative measures, and I again urge this today.

Q:  [inaudible question in Catalan]

SG: The United Nations has a firm and principled position that human rights and human dignity should be firmly upheld and protected. All the issues between the countries and among the countries should be resolved through peaceful means, through dialogue, respecting the genuine aspirations of the people concerned. This is what I defend as Secretary-General. And I really urge the leaders around the world to exercise their political will, political leadership and wisdom to resolve all these things through dialogue and peaceful means. Thank you very much.