17 February 2017

Opening remarks at press encounter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

António Guterres

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you very much for your presence.

It is for me an enormous honour and an enormous pleasure to have my first bilateral visit in the European Union in Germany.

We live in a world in which we see a multiplication of conflicts. We live in a world where the old conflicts seem never to die, where unfortunately conflicts are becoming more and more interlinked and linked with a new threat of global terrorism. We live in a world in which climate change represents a threat to the future generations, a world in which we witness the recent development of huge migration flows, enormous movements of people, a world that requires a global response – global problems require global responses.

And I am a true believe in multilateralism, in the need for countries to come together and to use multilateral institutions to be able, in a spirit of solidarity, to advance the enormous challenges of today’s world. And Germany is a very solid pillar of our multilateral institutions. Germany plays an extremely relevant role in the United Nations system, but also in the European Union and in many other international institutions, and Germany has been extremely active in all aspects in which the international community needs to come together to face the dramatic challenges that are threatening our daily lives.

On the other hand, having been for more than ten years the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, I want to pay tribute to Germany and particularly to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In a world where solidarity has many difficulties to be expressed, where we felt that so many were rejecting diversity, not understanding that diversity is a richness, not a threat, where so many populist, xenophobic demonstrations exist, Germany and Chancellor Merkel have been a symbol of tolerance, a symbol of hospitality in relation to people in need of protection, and a symbol I would like to see followed in many, many other parts of the world in order for us to be able to respond to the dramatic suffering that we are witnessing because of the terrible conflicts that have spread around the world.

So, in this moment, I would like to say that I am sure that the cooperation that, as Secretary-General, I will have with Germany and its Government will be as solid, as positive, as deep and as successful as the cooperation we had when, as High Commissioner for Refugees, I could be fully in support of the German policy for the protection of refugees.