3 September 2009

Activities of Secretary-General in Austria

28-30 August 2009

VIENNA, 3 September (UN Information Service) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Vienna, Austria, early on Friday morning, 28 August.

His first meeting was with Michael Spindelegger, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, with whom he later had a press encounter. He was also hosted to lunch that day by the Foreign Minister.

Secretary-General Ban attended a ceremony organized by the Austrian Government to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, known as the Vienna International Centre.

He spoke of the importance of the work of all the Vienna-based United Nations organizations, adding: "From outer space to the human heart, this Vienna International Centre has done far more than witness history; it has brought great progress to our world." (See Press Release SG/SM/12428)

The Secretary-General added that, from Austria, he would be travelling to the Arctic to spotlight the challenge of climate change. He said: "We have about three months until the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December in Copenhagen - three months to reach an agreement that will determine the future of our planet. We must seal the deal."

While in Vienna, the Secretary-General also met with the heads of the Vienna-based organizations and their senior managers and he also attended a Town Hall meeting with the staff of all organizations based there.

Following a private visit to Austrian President Heinz Fischer's summer residence, the Secretary-General travelled to Tyrol where on Sunday he addressed the opening of the Political Symposium of the European Forum Alpbach on "Trust between Individual and States". (See Press Release SG/SM/12430)

In his Alpbach speech, the Secretary-General discussed the need for the United Nations to speak out on behalf of people whose trust has been betrayed. He noted that, in Sri Lanka, he made it clear to President Mahinda Rajapaksa that though the fighting might be over, people must be allowed to return to their homes and he must reach out to minority groups. In Myanmar, he said, he met with Senior General Than Shwe, and told him bluntly that the world is watching him and his Government, and that he must release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

That day, Mr. Ban also met with participants of a retreat on "The United Nations Security Council and Protection of Civilians: Improving Effectiveness and Accountability", and with Dr. Klaus Tschütscher, Head of the Princely Government of Liechtenstein, who later hosted lunch in the Secretary-General's honour.

Late on Sunday, the Secretary-General flew to Oslo, Norway.

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