01 March 2016

Opening remarks at press encounter with José Manuel García-Margallo Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain

Ban Ki-moon

Muchas gracias, Señor Ministro.

Señores y señoras, buenas noches.

Es un gran placer de estar en España.

Muchas gracias por su hospitalidad.

It is a great pleasure for me to be back in Madrid. I thank the Spanish government and people for their commitment to the ideals of the United Nations.

Through its current membership on the Security Council, Spain is helping the world to address the most urgent issues on the international agenda, as has been explained by Foreign Minister [José Manuel] García-Margallo.

This includes the devastating war in Syria.

So far the cessation of hostilities is by and large holding, despite some incidents. I call on all parties to continue to keep their promises and demonstrate their good faith, particularly to allow the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to besieged areas. Some of the people in those areas have not received aid for months or even years. Many people may have starved to death, or died from a lack of routine healthcare.

I very much appreciate the work of the Task Force on the Cessation of Hostilities and the leadership demonstrated by the members of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) and particularly as co-Chairs, the United States and the Russian Federation.

I call on everyone involved to build on the cessation of hostilities and prepare the groundwork for the resumption of talks on 9 March.

I urge Spain to continue its constructive role, and I thank the Government and people of Spain for their global citizenship and solidarity.

Spain is a steadfast contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, and a strong supporter of conflict prevention and mediation.

As a member of the Friends of Western Sahara, Spain is an integral part of United Nations efforts to resolve that complex situation. I will be visiting the region in the next few days and I thank the Spanish government for its support of this mission.

I have just held fruitful talks with Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo.

We discussed the plight of refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing across the Mediterranean. I expressed my concern over the border restrictions that are being imposed along land routes. These restrictions are not in line with international law or with common human decency. Every asylum seeker has the right to have his or her application considered individually.

I am grateful for Spain’s support for the principle of responsibility-sharing, and I call on other European countries to act in the same spirit. This will be a key theme at the Summit on large movements of refugees and migrants, to be held on 19 September in New York this year.

My talks with Foreign Minister García-Margallo also touched on the fight against terrorism. Spain’s experience shows that the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and a unified society are crucial factors in defeating terrorist violence.

I also count on Spain’s support in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul on May 23rd and 24th will be an opportunity to agree on ways to better protect people, prepare for crises and ensure the funding we need to help all those caught up in natural and man-made disasters.

Foreign Minister García-Margallo, thank you again for Spain’s commitment and partnership and your leadership.

Muchas gracias, Señor Ministro.