Vienna, Austria, 28 August 2009 – Secretary-General's press encounter with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger [unofficial transcript]
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, we just now listened to the “Voices for Peace”, and all of us were impressed. But I would like to draw your attention that these “Voices for Peace” are totally marginalized in the Middle East. So I would like to comment on the current status of the Middle East, and the efforts done by the United Nations. Thank you very much indeed.
SG: Peace and stability in the Middle East has great implications for peace and stability not only in the region, but all around the world. There have been many initiatives, many diplomatic efforts by the Americans, Israelis, the Western World and also from the Arab World. Unfortunately, with all these initiatives and agreements, we have not seen peace.
Recently we have seen some encouraging developments of the situation in the Middle East: we have seen [progress towards] the establishment of a national unity government in Lebanon through the election of the President and the elections, and we have seen an increasingly reconciliatory relationship between Syria and other Arab countries, and there have even been indirect talks between Syria and Israel. There have been continuing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authorities.
What is important at this time is that, while we believe that the Arab Peace Initiative provides the cornerstone of this Middle East [process], at the same time we also value the bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authorities. It would be crucially important that the Palestinian people should be united among themselves, and should be able to carry on these negotiations.
And again, there have been increasingly positive developments of the situation, which have been initiated by the new US Administration, by President [Barack] Obama's Administration now taking the lead to address this issue. I hope that we will see some positive results coming from this American administration's direct engagement in this. As a member of the Quartet I have been actively participating in the Middle East peace process, and again, it is also very important that Israel and other parties concerned should keep all these commitments in accordance with the roadmap initiated by the Quartet. And I will continue to be engaged in this.
Thank you very much.