18 March 2011

Opening remarks at press encounter with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero Rodriguez

Ban Ki-moon

Muchas gracias, Señor Presidente por su hospitalidad. Señoras y señores, buenos tardes. Estoy muy contento de estar de nuevo en España.

I have just had a very productive meeting with President of the Government Zapatero and Foreign Minister Jimenez. I am very grateful for all of Spain´s contributions to the work of the United Nations in our three pillars: peace and security, development and human rights.

We discussed the dramatic developments in the Middle East and North Africa, including the violence in Libya.

The Security Council resolution which was adopted yesterday is another historic decision on Libya. Resolution 1973 affirms, clearly and unequivocally, the international community's determination to fulfil its responsibility to protect civilians from violence perpetrated upon them by their own Government. The Resolution authorizes the use of all necessary measures, including a no-fly zone to prevent further casualties and loss of innocent lives.

I welcome Spain's efforts to help resolve the crisis. It is imperative that the international community continues to speak with one voice. I would like to again take this opportunity to express my full support and appreciation for President Zapatero´s leadership and his Government´s firm, principled stance in implementing Security Council resolutions, first by freezing all assets in Spain and also all the measures he has just announced as a part of implementing this Security Council resolution.

I believe the international community should speak with one voice.

This is a difficult situation. Thousands of lives are still at stake.

For my part as Secretary-General, I will do all I can to fulfill my responsibilities to coordinate closely with Member States on a common, effective and timely response, as mandated by Security Council Resolution 1973.

As you know, my Special Envoy on Libya, Abdul Ilah Khatib, the former Foreign Minister of Jordan, visited Libya earlier this week. I will meet with him in the days ahead.

I also thank Spain for continued support in implementing this resolution and also in repatriating the migrant workers who were stranded at the Tunisian border. We must ensure respect for the rights of those who are fleeing the fighting.

Tomorrow, as announced by President Zapatero, I will travel to Paris and meet President Sarkozy of France and other European, Arab and African leaders. We will discuss ways to move forward to protect the people of Libya, in accordance with Resolution 1973.

In the coming days, I will visit Egypt and Tunisia. The peoples of both countries have shown immense courage in their efforts to bring about a new democratic order.

The purpose of my visit is to listen to the people, to express my solidarity with their aspirations for change, and to see how the United Nations can help with the transitions.

I trust that the Government and people of Spain will also stand in solidarity with Tunisia and Egypt as they seek to chart a prosperous and democratic future.

President Zapatero and I also will continue to discuss the situation in other areas, over the lunch, in Western Sahara, including the recent talks in Malta. I know I can count on the continued support of Spain for the efforts of my Special Envoy towards finding a solution.

Spain is a strong supporter of the United Nations and I look forward to strengthening our partnership across our shared agenda. Muchas gracias.