17 April 2018

Opening remarks at joint press conference with Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir

António Guterres

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

This visit obviously was centered as the Foreign Minister has said in the opening session of the Advisory Board of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre. It is important to say that the UNCCT would not be what it is without the extremely generous contribution provided by Saudi Arabia three years ago. That was what allowed the Centre to become an important institution worldwide and justifying that representatives from many countries in the world and namely from the five permanent members of the Security Council to be present today in Riyadh as Advisory Board of this Centre.

The Centre has an objective to support Member States in developing their own capacities to fight terrorism and to address the root causes of terrorism and fight violent extremism. As I said the Centre would not be what it is, it would not have the global reach that it has today, without the extremely generous contribution that Saudi Arabia gave. That, I would say, is the main pillar of the functioning of the Centre.

But this visit is also a visit of gratitude. I am, and the United Nations are, extremely grateful to two very important humanitarian contributions given by the Government of Saudi Arabia in the recent past.

First, a contribution of one billion dollars to the Humanitarian Response Plan in Yemen, to be matched by a similar contribution from the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. This allows us to have a much more effective capacity to address the plight of the Yemeni people in these very difficult circumstances that you all know, and the second, the contribution of $50 million dollars that was announced for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, that as you all know suffered a very substantial reduction in the contribution of the United States recently, and was facing a dramatic shortfall in funds that would not allow it to address the most dramatic need of the Palestine refugees: schools to be maintained opened, hospitals to work, support to families in distress, emergency response to Palestinians in countries like Syria or in Gaza where so many events have created dramatic needs for the population. Thanks to this generous donation we can now look with more optimism for the possibility to address the funding gaps of UNRWA and my appeal to the international community is for other countries to match the contribution by Saudi Arabia in order to make sure that UNRWA has the amount that is necessary to provide for the needs of the Palestine refugees giving at the same time an important contribution to the stability and security of the area. Let’s not forget that Palestine refugees are in big numbers not only in the West Bank and in Gaza but also in Jordan and even in Syria and so the work done by UNRWA is absolutely vital for their well-being but also for the stability in the region.

I also want to express my gratitude for the excellent discussions that I had the occasion to have about political solutions. We are seeing so many conflicts; we are seeing so many dramas. We need political solutions. There is never a military solution for these conflicts. The solution is always political, and we had very, very important discussions on how to create the conditions for political solutions to be possible in Yemen, in Syria where it’s absolutely vital after everything that has happened in recent days to revitalize the Geneva discussions, intra-Syria negotiations, linked to decision of the Security Council resolution 2254 and the Geneva communiqué and aiming at providing a future in which Syrians can determine their own future, and simultaneously other areas in which we have been intensively cooperating to try to create conditions for conflicts to end. One of the priorities being Libya, where we’re working very actively to see if we can reach a settlement that allows for the Libyan people also to find a way for the future.

We discussed, obviously, all other problems in the region, a very strong mutual commitment to the need of a two-State solution. There is no Plan B. We absolutely need a two-State solution for the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. We need to make sure that conditions are created for the Palestinians to have the right to their own State, as we recognize the right of the Israelis to have their own State in the region, and for the two to be able to live together in peace and security with mutual recognition. I’m very grateful for the discussions that were possible, and I have to say that the cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations in many of the regional problems and many of the global questions that we face together, that cooperation is today a very important pillar of our action and this visit was extremely useful for the development of our very own UN activities.