12 November 2003



NEW YORK, 11 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at a ceremony hosted by the Municipality of Quito yesterday, 10 November:

I am moved by the honour you have bestowed on me today, and by the warm welcome you have given my wife and me.  This is our first visit to your city and to Ecuador, but we feel we have already experienced a great deal -- and we like all of it so far!

I also feel as though I know Quito a little bit already, even though I had never set foot here until yesterday, when I had a chance to visit your beautiful historic district.  The feeling of familiarity comes from the renown your city enjoys around the world, and also from the close relationship between this city and the United Nations family.

The United Nations has worked with you to preserve the cultural treasure that your historic centre represents, and this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary since UNESCO declared Quito a world cultural heritage site.  The young people of Quito have an active tradition of Model United Nations Conferences, giving them a valuable opportunity to walk in the shoes of delegates and officials of our Organization.  I also recognize the wonderful contribution to the United Nations of Ecuadorian nationals -- including Diego Cordovez and Jose Ayala Lasso.

You have also achieved extraordinary progress on a number of fronts in our common work for development -- including the provision of clean water and sewage which are so critical in the fight against poverty and disease.

Quito is a gracious host to the large United Nations team that works closely with Ecuadorians for development across the country.  This afternoon, I will inaugurate the United Nations House which brings together, under the same roof, the various members of our vast United Nations family in Ecuador.  It is an example of how Quito has become a natural centre for harmonious cooperation among the United Nations, local and national government, and civil society and the private sector.

Citizens of Quito, you have made me proud by honouring me today, but it is you who should draw pride from the achievements of your city.

* *** *