Press Releases

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    26 April 2016

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

    Remarks at press stakeout with His Excellency Mr. Sebastian Kurz, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria

    Vienna, 26 April 2016

    VIENNA, 26 April (United Nations Information Service) - Meine Damen und Herren, guten Abend!

    Ich freue mich sehr, in Wien wieder zu sein.  Sehr geehrter Herr Aussenminister, ich danke Ihnen für Ihr Leadership und Ihre Gastfreundlichkeit. Danke schön.

    [Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening. I am happy to be in Vienna again. Dear Mr. Foreign Minister I thank you for your leadership and your hospitality. Thank you.]

    Thank you very much. I am very happy to be back in Vienna. I am a great fan of football and I will watch how the Vienna team how they play.  I have been playing with the diplomatic team in the United Nations, so thank you very much for your very thoughtful gift.

    Foreign Minister Kurz and I just had a meeting on issues at the top of the international agenda. I thanked him for Austria's strong support for the United Nations. We agreed to strengthen our partnership even more.

    As you know I am here to chair what we call the Chief Executives Board for Coordination meeting. This is a meeting which I convene twice a year, once in New York, once abroad. During the last year of my term as the Secretary-General I am very happy that all the leaders of the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Bank and IMF, and the specialized agencies, funds and programmes, they are all in Vienna. From tomorrow we are going to discuss how the United Nations system, all the agencies, funds and programmes and Bretton Woods organizations can work together in unity so that we can deliver the expectations, particularly the visions of the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change and many other development issues, to deliver on the expectations of the international community and I am very much grateful to the Government and people of Austria for [their] strong support for the United Nations and international organizations working in Vienna.

    On specific issues, we exchanged views on the developments in Syria - and the way forward.

    On Syria, let me just say that I am deeply concerned about developments on the ground, especially the attacks in Damascus yesterday and Aleppo overnight.

    The UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, and others are working very hard to keep the cessation of hostilities on track. I welcome the statement yesterday from the United States and European leaders in Hanover, Germany.

    As you know, the Special Envoy will brief the Security Council tomorrow. The focus is very much on protecting civilians, improving humanitarian access and reducing the amount of violence. That is the essence and purpose of the cessation of hostilities which must be supported by all.

    We also discussed the situation in Yemen, particularly the peace talks which are now going on in Kuwait, the situation in South Sudan, Ukraine and the southern Balkans.

    I congratulated Austria for attending the historic signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on climate change Friday last week in New York. I count on the Parliament of Austria to ratify this milestone treaty without delay.

    This will bolster our global efforts to create a healthier, safer and more sustainable future for the planet and all people.

    Foreign Minister Kurz and I discussed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I commended Austria's contributions to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals here and around the world.

    On Thursday, I will have the honour to address the Austrian Parliament. I will express my appreciation to Austria for being such an important member of the United Nations - and I urge it to do even more to defend our shared principles.

    This is especially important at this time of peril and promise.

    We face global threats - from pandemics to hate speech - that do not respect national borders. No country can meet the challenges on its own.

    Now is a time to build trust among peoples, break down divisions and stand strong for our common values.

    Xenophobia scars all men, women and children. It dehumanizes those resorting to racial and discriminatory remarks and actions. It violates the victims. And it tears the fabric of society.

    When countries foster a sense of belonging among all people - regardless of their race, religion or any other superficial difference - they also consolidate security.

    Countries that embrace diversity can leverage great strengths and achieve outstanding progress.

    Finally, let me say a word about a very solemn anniversary today. Thirty years ago the nightmare scenario of an accident at a nuclear power plant played out at Chernobyl.

    I still vividly remember my visit to the site in 2011. The reactor encased in concrete, the empty villages and the sense of broken lives made a deep impression on me. Let us never forget Chernobyl. The people of the region need international solidarity. And the world needs to learn from their experience. Let us stand together for a safer future for all.

    Danke schön. Thank you.         

    Q1:  Eva Pöcksteiner from Austrian Public Television, you have a good relationship to Mr. Mistura, do you have pieces of information about the progress of the peace talks in Geneva?

    SG:  What is going on now in Geneva. We are encouraged still, the parties [from] Syria and the armed opposition groups, even though they are not sitting together in proximity talks, the Special Envoy, de Mistura, is trying to put them together. As you know he has proposed a certain list of commonalities based on their positions and they have some dozen commonalities which have been presented to both sides. I hope these commonalities will be able to be expanded as much as possible, but it is important that they should show political will at this time and the cessation of hostilities should go on, otherwise it will be very difficult for humanitarian workers to deliver. Until now we have delivered to almost one people the daily necessities, life-saving assistance including eight air drops. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are still besieged in the areas - we do not have much access to them, so we used aeroplanes to drop humanitarian assistance. But what is at this time most important is political will by both sides and there is strong support from the international community led by the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) whose co-chairs are Russia and the United States.

    Q2:  Elisabeth Hilgarth from the Austrian Press Agency. I was wondering if you are concerned about the far right movements in Europe getting stronger and stronger, especially as on Sunday in Austria the far right wing party had a big success at the first round of the presidential elections?

    SG:  I have been following the current political situation including the presidential elections in Austria.  The elections are part of the regular democratic process of Austria and any country and it means for the people of Austria to express their democratic will. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, you will understand that it is not for me to comment on an ongoing, peaceful, credible and transparent electoral process.

    I thank you very much. Danke schön.

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