Moscow, Russian Federation

21 June 2018

Secretary-General's remarks at joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov

SG: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you very much for your presence. I want, first of all, to express my deep gratitude for the excellent hospitality that once again the Russian Federation, President Putin, Minister Lavrov, have granted to me during this stay.
 
I am a strong believer that we face a number of very dramatic challenges in today’s world: the multiplication of conflicts, the fact that conflicts are more and more related to terrorism, the fact that climate change is running faster than we are and movements of people around the world, without effective international cooperation to handle them. And this reaffirms my deep conviction that facing dramatic global challenges, we need a global capacity to address them that reaffirms the importance of multilateralism and the importance of a rules-based set of international relations based on the rule of law and in accordance with the UN Charter.
 
And Russia as a founder of the UN, the Russian Federation as a permanent member of the Security Council, has an absolutely key role to play in the construction of this multi-polar world that we hope will be served by stronger multilateral institutions able to care for the global public goods, to the benefit of all humankind.
 
We had very constructive discussions about all the situations that are of course worrying us - from the global Middle East, in particular Syria, to several African locations, to North Korea, to Ukraine, to different other crises around the world.
 
I believe we had very constructive and positive discussions and I’d like to underline the common efforts in which we are engaged in relation to Syria.
 
As you know the UN participated in the Sochi meeting and we have been working together to make sure that the conclusions of Sochi are fully met.  I hope that the constitutional committee that was decided will be soon formed. And our objective is to work closely together with the Russian Federation in order to achieve the right endgame, which is a Syria that has its territorial integrity preserved, that avoids fragmentation. A Syria in which a secular regime prevails where all religious confessions and all groups can feel comfortable. A Syria that is able to run itself, to run its destiny with democratic institutions in which all can participate.
 
And we will be totally committed to cooperate with the Russian Federation in the different steps to reach this end goal.
 
In all other areas we will be working very closely with the Russian Federation, and I want to say that it is our deep commitment indeed to reform the Secretariat of the UN to make sure that we are much more effective, much more cost-effective, and much more able to answer the aspirations and to meet the needs of the peoples.
 
Our role is very simple: It is to serve. To serve Member States and to serve the peoples of this world. We know that sometimes people tend to be reticent about the role of the international organizations. There is a lack of trust in many aspects.
 
Globalization that of course brought many benefits also created situations in which people are left behind. There are different foci of mistrust and it’s very important to show the added value of the UN, the capacity of the UN to deliver in relation to the interests of the peoples of this world, the Member States that are represented in the UN, and for that, we are totally committed to a process of reform of the Secretariat that we hope will serve this objective and of course the support of the Russian Federation is extremely important for that. Spasibo bolshoe.
 
Q: [In Russian, on the decision by the United States to leave the Human Rights Council]
SG: Well, as I said clearly immediately after, we of course would much prefer the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council. And I do believe that the human rights architecture is a key tool at a present moment in order to promote and to protect human rights around the world and we hope that the work will go on in this direction, because human rights is one of the pillars of action of the United Nations.
 
Q: [In Russian, on UN reform]
 
SG: I think we need to distinguish what is the work of the bodies of the UN, that are the sovereign bodies of the UN where the Member States are represented, and the reform we are now doing, which is the reform of the structure of the Secretariat.
 
Obviously, it is absolutely essential that decisions of the Security Council are implemented and that all Member States respect the decisions of the Security Council.
 
But that is not what the present reform process which relates to the structure of the Secretariat is about, even if a more effective Secretariat will help create the conditions for a better implementation of the decisions of the bodies of the UN.
 
But the key aspect here is for Member States to respect the decisions of the Security Council when they apply to them.
 
Q: [In Russian, on US/Russia cooperation, and on Syria/Pinheiro report] 
 
SG: If you allow me, I’ll make first the comment on the first point. I am a true believer that geostrategic interests of the Russian Federation and the United States in the global Middle East are not contradictory.
 
And I’m a true believer that dialogue and cooperation between the two countries is a very important element for a world that can live with more predictability and in a more peaceful and effective way to implement the resolutions of the Security Council and all the other instruments to allow the peace and security to prevail.
 
So, I can only wish a successful outcome of the summit you mentioned.
 
On the other hand, I have not yet seen the report that you have mentioned. It is clear for me that during all this process there were severe violations of human rights committed both by the Syrian Army and different armed groups operating in Syria. I have no doubt whatsoever about it.
 
I believe it is important to recognize the role of independent human rights instruments that of course produce their work independently of the opinions that we can have on different aspects that are taking place. In relation to the most worrying problem, that has been, in my opinion, a factor that has undermined the international cooperation, namely within the Security Council to address the Syria crisis.
 
I am a strong supporter of the need of an attribution mechanism in relation to the chemical attacks in Syria. And I’ve always been available with my good offices to allow for the Security Council to be able to come to a common position on this. That, I believe, would be a very important instrument for the improved international cooperation in addressing the Syrian crisis.