For information only - not an official document
19 October 2015
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
Remarks Joint Press Conference With H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, Deputy Prime Minister And Minister Of Foreign And European Affairs Of The Slovak Republic
Bratislava, 19 October 2015
VIENNA/BRATISLAVA 19 October (United Nations Information Service) - I am very pleased to visit the Slovak Republic at this critical time.
I have held constructive bilateral consultations with a number of top Slovak Government officials, including His Excellency, President Andrej Kiska, His Excellency, Prime Minister,Robert Fico and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, His ExcellencyMiroslav Lajčák.I will also meet Speaker of the National Council, Peter Pellegrini right after this press conference.
During my encounters with Slovak leaders, we had valuable talks on the issues of sustainable development, climate change, increased movement of migrants and refugees towards Europe, UN peacekeeping operations, conflict prevention and counter-terrorism.
I thanked the Slovak Republic for its generous contribution to UN efforts in international peace and security.
I am particularly grateful for the announcement just made by the Foreign Minister about your contribution of 600,000 euros to the Trust Fund of the United Nations for Preventive Diplomacy, Peace Building and Security Sector Reform. This very generous show of support will facilitate the lifesaving work of the United Nations.
In our talks, I have urged leaders to fully engage in helping to realize the new Sustainable Development Goalsand I have also asked that they push for progress at the Paris Climate Change Conference.
I am encouraged by the strong commitment of the European Union leaders. I strongly urge all Member States to redouble their efforts at the negotiations currently going on right now.
In all of my discussions, I stressed the need for respect for human life, dignity and rights with regard to those fleeing war, violence and persecution. I called for an open dialogue with affected communities to avoid polarization of public opinion on the issue of migration. Leaders can make a difference by showing courage and compassion.
I recalled that together with the Czech Republic at the time, the Slovak Republic was one of the founding Members of the United Nations - and it has been one of our most active partners on critical issues. I especially appreciate his Excellency Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister for his leadership as Co-Chair of the UN Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform.
I expressed my gratitude to the country's contribution of troops to UN Peacekeeping Operations, with the largest presence in the mission in Cyprus.
I also acknowledged the Slovak Republic's engagement in the economic and social agenda of the United Nations. Last year, it survived one of the toughest jobs - chairing the UN General Assembly's Budget Committee, known as Fifth Committee, with Ambassador Frantisek Ruzicka.
I had the honour to visit Comenius University this morning, where I met with a number of students. I was deeply impressed by their sense of responsibility on global issues. I count on the Slovak Republic to advance the spirit of global citizenship for the sake of our common future.
Q: Question on gender equality and whether the Slovak candidates for the next Secretary-General could be considered, also on security council reform.
SG: Let me answer your question for Security Council reform and the second question about the future possible successor. First of all, Security Council reform has been going on longer than 20 years. Member States have been discussing and negotiating this. Most recently they have been meeting and consulting on an informal negotiation basis. There have been lots of voices heard from the international community that the Security Council, considering such dramatic changes which have been taking place during the last seven decades, should be reformed to be able to adapt to the current changing situation in a more efficient and effective and transparent and representative manner. On that point I think there are widely shared views. But how to change, how to adapt or formulate the structure of the United Nations Security Council including the number of Permanent Members or Veto Powers, that has yet to be decided upon by the Member States. Negotiations have been taking place on a very serious basis, but so far there has been no consensus or formula. I sincerely hope that the Member States will be able to engage further to find this solution.
On the possible candidate for the post of Secretary-General who will take over from January 1 st 2017 when I finish my job, there seem to be two issues: who should be there,whether there could be a woman candidate. I think all these kind of voices have been heard louder and louder day by day. Therefore, I am expecting that Member States will be able to find a good and capable candidate who will be very committed to address all the difficult issues which are now taking place. It is important that there should be good candidates who present themselves as candidates and it is in the hands of the Member States. I heard and I know that there is some aspiration from Slovak people that there should be some Slovak candidate or possibly a Slovak Secretary-General in the future. But as the Secretary-General, I am not in a position, as you may know, the decision is in the hands of the Member States, including whether a woman should be the next Secretary-General.
Thank you very much.
Q2: On climate change, what does the Secretary-General expect from the COP21 conference in Paris, will it not be difficult to persuade the big players to reach an agreement?
SG: I am reasonably optimistic that Member States will be able to agree on a universal robust climate change agreement. That is why I strongly urge Member States to expedite their negotiations that are currently going on in Bonn. Member States have been discussing this issue [for] many years. I cannot count on how long they have been discussing, without agreeing on anything. While Member States have been discussing and discussing and spending time, the climate change phenomenon has been impacting our world, our human being and our nature, our planet Earth. You have seen extreme weather patterns during the last few years. It does not matter whether you are living in a very, prosperous rich region like the European Union, it is not only hitting the developing world, it doesn't care whether developing and developed world. Scientists have been warning that climate change is happening and approaching much much faster than one may expect. There is no time to waste at this time. I have been warning the Member States that we do not have any plan B because we do not have any planet B. The negotiation process has been so slow, unfortunately, it has been quite frustrating to see that negotiators have been negotiating only based on their very narrow national perspectives. This is not the individual nation's issue, this is a global issue. We need to have a global vision to make sure that all our human beings and all our nature and planet earth can live in a sustainable way. We do not have much time left. The summit meeting will begin from November 30 th. We have less than six weeks to go. This currentconference in Bonn is in the last negotiating week. So I sincerely hope and I strongly urge negotiators to look beyond their national boundary perspectives. Look for global solutions and I am working very hard with the Member States to make sure that this time a climate change agreement will be concluded. Member States have promised publicly in their declarations since 2011 at the Durban Conference that there must be a climate change agreement done by 2015. Then it is has been confirmed repeatedly 2012 in Doha, 2013 in Warsaw, 2014 last December in Peru, so they have publicly confirmed and affirmed their commitment to conclude the climate change agreement four times. Now we are going to meet for the fifth time, last time, deadline. So we must make our promise, Member State promise realized. This is a political, moral obligation that world leaders should make sure that this time we have a climate change agreement. Now, again, if I may add one more thing: Paris is not a destination but it should be a turning point in our efforts to address climate change. There is no time to lose and I urge again that they should keep their promise, thank you.
Q3: What is your view of what the European Union has been doing to address the refugee crisis, the EU as a block or if there are single states to be singled out, please do so? Should the EU offer more to Turkey to get it on board or to have a joint strategy on how to deal with the crisis, as we know the talks haven't really achieved their final conclusion at the summit?
SG: This migration and refugee issue has surfaced as one of the top most serious global issues at this time. While refugees and migrants are just coming to European countries, they should not be just a European issue, it has become a clearly global issue which must be addressed with speed as well as with global solidarity and compassion. In that regard I appreciate each and every European country's domestic concern and challenges. Definitely it creates a huge domestic, political,social, economic problems. At the same time you should know that these defenceless and voiceless and helpless refugees are fleeing their countries because of war, because of persecution, because of their own safety and security, so we have to provide life-saving assistance to them. For the United Nations the first priority is to protect human lives and [provide] support on humanitarian grounds. I am not going to mention any particular country's case, there are more than two million refugees in Turkey, one point five [million] in Lebanon and also almost a similar number in Jordan and about 300,000 in Iraq and about 200,000 in northern Africa including Egypt, so four million people [from Syria] are now refugees. We should have addressed this issue at the cause, at the origin, Of course if we could have handled this issue [at] the root causes it would have been much better, but while we were not able to address the root causes, a number of people have been killed that is why they are now fleeing, so we have to provide assistance. I appreciate the European Union now very seriously engaging among themselves to find a regional package including a quota system. I would sincerely hope that next time when they meet in Valetta, Malta they will have a broader more comprehensive solution for how they can first of all address refugees coming from Syria as well as from northern Africa. This is a top priority as winter is approaching I think the situation will be much worse in terms of humanitarian conditions, I count on the leadership of European Union, thank you.
Q4: And specifically, my second question about Turkey?
SG: There are many countries, I do not need to address by individual country's name, but since you raised the issue of Turkey, we really appreciate Turkish very compassionate and very generous support for more than 2 million people. I have been discussing this matter with President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu many times, even most recently and there is another issue how to address this violent extremism and terrorist infiltration. I appreciate this coalition activities to address violent extremism and terrorism, at the same time there should be some more coherent or coordinated way not to cause any harm or danger to civilian populations. Thank you.
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