17 December 2020

Opening remarks at a joint press encounter with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany

António Guterres

Dear members of the press, it is for me an enormous pleasure to be back in Germany. Indeed because of COVID-19, I've had very few missions this year. But I really wanted to come and accept Germany's invitation of the President of the Bundestag to address the Bundestag because these are challenging times, but Germany is a reliable and generous and an exemplary party when we face these challenging times.  
In the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we did a survey around the world with 1.5 million answers of different citizens from everywhere. What was interesting in that survey, is that those that answered from Germany, 99% of them affirmed their commitment to multilateralism, and international cooperation, to solve the problems of today's world - 99%. By far, the largest percentage. And that shows the strong commitment of the German people to the values that the UN represents, and that shows why it would be impossible for me not to accept to come to the parliament that represents the German people in the last activity I will have during these dramatic year in which we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the UN and at the same time, we have suffered the full impact of COVID-19 and all the other challenges that we face from climate change to inequality, to lawlessness in cyberspace to the different fragilities that undermine our world.   
Now the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, our planet is burning, conflict and insecurity are everywhere. And as my dear friend and the Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said when he addressed the General Assembly in September, and I ask for permission to quote you: "Our world must show that the right response to the crises of our age is more solidarity, more cooperation, and more justice." And that was also the spirit of our very constructive and fruitful talks today. I'm very thankful for Germany's staunch commitment to multilateralism and its principled foreign policy across the broad spectrum of our work from human rights to peace and security, to addressing the challenges of development and humanitarian aid, Germany has been on the frontline of all aspects of activity in the United Nations. And this has been demonstrated once again, through the role that Germany has played on the Security Council over the last two years. Foreign Minister Maas has shown great dedication and personal engagement throughout Germany's membership of the Security Council. We participated in various meetings together during this year. He has chaired indeed meetings of the Council on such important issues as but pandemics and security, sexual violence in conflict, climate and security, international humanitarian law, and non-proliferation. 
I am also happy to recognize Germany's crucial support for peacebuilding, including its role in the Peacebuilding Commission and I look forward to co-chairing with Minister Maas a replenishment conference for the UN's Peacebuilding Fund in Germany and thank you very much for your generosity.  
I want to express my gratitude to the German government and the people for their generous humanitarian and development support. We also discussed the situation in Libya, the Sahel, Sudan, Ethiopia, and several other crises around the world.  
And with regard to Libya, I'm particularly grateful for Germany's role, including the hosting of the Berlin Conference on Libya last January and all the efforts to help to forge a way forward and continue to galvanize the constructive engagement of the international community in support of the Libyan people.  
On the Sahel, I commend Germany for its continued commitment to the region's development and stability, including to the Coalition for the Sahel, the participation in MINUSMA and the European Union Training Mission.  
On Sudan, I appreciate Germany's important contribution to UN efforts in the Security Council, and for its leadership in the Friends of Sudan group.   
And regarding Ethiopia, we fully share the importance of a peaceful Ethiopia, facilitating the prosperous future for its people and for stability and development of the Horn of Africa region. But I again underline the importance of unfettered access for humanitarian assistance as well as the swift resumption of the rule of law, human rights and a secure environment in which not only human rights are respected, but in which reconciliation becomes possible and public services are delivered. Beyond the immediate protection of civilians, the UN, together with our partners stands ready to support Ethiopian-led initiatives to encourage inclusive dialogue, reconciliation, and post conflict reconstruction.   
And once again, I'm pleased to be in Germany, and I'm very grateful for the warm welcome that I have started with and will go on tomorrow.