Press Releases

    21 November 2002


    NEW YORK, 20 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the memorial ceremony held in Zagreb, Croatia, 20 November:

    We are gathered here on this solemn occasion to pay tribute to United Nations personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace in the former Yugoslavia.

    In so doing, we remember the thousands of people from Croatia and its neighbours, of different faiths and ethnicities, who died in this tragic conflict. The pain that they endured must never be forgotten.

    This memorial will serve to reinforce our own determination -- as peacekeepers, citizens and members of the human family -- to build better lives for succeeding generations.

    It is, I believe, appropriate that this memorial is placed here at the Zagreb International Airport at Pleso.

    For the peacekeepers who experienced this conflict, this was a familiar place.

    It was a busy transit point for the soldiers, police officers and civilians, who undertook the profoundly difficult task of helping the people of this region find the path to peace.

    The words engraved here are an eloquent homage to the courage and conviction of all United Nations personnel who have laid down their lives in the cause of peace. I quote:

    And when asked,
    "Whom shall we send and who will go for us?"
    They said,
    "Send us. We shall go."

    I ask you to join me in a minute of silence to honour our fallen colleagues.



    Today, the transition from conflict to peace is a reality across southeastern Europe.

    I hope that, with European integration as a common and defining goal in this region, a new era is emerging -- an era characterized by tolerance, diversity, respect for human rights and the rule of law. The world looks to Croatia’s leaders to build further on those values, so that this country may become a fully engaged and integrated member of the European family of nations -- as it is already of the United Nations.

    Even at the darkest hour of the conflict, it was the hope of such a new dawn that sustained our peacekeepers. As we watch that dawn rise, we shall know that their sacrifice was not in vain.

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