Vienna, Austria

14 May 2018

Secretary-General's remarks at Press Encounter with Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria

Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen from the media, it’s a great pleasure to be back in Vienna, this time as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
 
Tomorrow will be a very important day in which Austria will be celebrating the day in which it regained its full independence and sovereignty.
 
At the same time, we are in a very important era, in relations between Austria and the UN. Twenty-five years ago, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on human rights was approved in an international conference in Vienna. That shows the very strong commitment of Austria in relation to all the aspects and activities of the UN. It has been true in human rights, it has been true in peace and security, it has been true in development cooperation, in climate change. And this multilateral commitment of Austria is more necessary than ever.
 
We now see the non-proliferation and the threats. Both non-proliferation in relation to nuclear weapons but also in relation to chemical weapons. And, of course, the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] was a very important instrument to avoid proliferation. We see a multiplication of new conflicts and old conflicts seem never to die. I’m particularly worried today with the news about what’s happening in Gaza, already with a high number of people killed. 
 
At the same time, we see climate change running faster than we are. We need more ambition. Paris is a must; the commitments made in Paris need to be implemented, but Paris is not enough. We need to have enhanced ambition to make sure we are able to control climate change. At the same time we are seeing risks in cyber security, we are seeing a number of new challenges to the world, and there is no way a country alone can solve them. Only a multilateral approach can address the challenges of today and Austria’s commitment to multilateralism has been one of the reasons for us to be hopeful that we can address them.
 
Sometimes there are some good news and I’d like to mention one and that has to do with the recent announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of their intention to close its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.
 
I’d like to welcome that and to say that irreversible closure of the site will be an important confidence-building measure that will contribute to further efforts towards sustainable peace and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and I look forward to this positive momentum being consolidated at the summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea.
 
This proves that even when things seem without solution, even when there is apparently no hope for the problems of the world to be faced with success, when there is concerted international action, when the Security Council is able to act together, when international cooperation works, problems can be solved.  And I hope that this example can be multiplied in so many others where unfortunately we are still stuck not being able to address the challenges of the day. The commitment of Austria is an extremely important one.
 
We are also extremely grateful for the extraordinary hospitality that Austria provides not only to the UN centre but a number of UN agencies that are now here in Vienna, one of the most important centres for the future, for the global future of the UN. Thank you very much.