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    7 December 2016

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

    Remarks to media with Sebastian Kurz, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria

    Vienna, 7 December 2016

    VIENNA, 7 December (United Nations Information Service) - Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the media,

    I am pleased to be once again in Vienna. 

    [Es freut mich sehr, hier in Wien zu sein.]

    This is my last visit to Vienna as Secretary-General of the United Nations, and my last to a Member State.

    So this is the last foreign trip to any country.  So I am happy to conclude my mandate as Secretary-General by visiting this great country, which I always regard as my second home.

    I have thought of Vienna as a second home since I was first posted as Korean Ambassador here in Vienna in 1998.

    I feel like an "echter Wiener".  [A genuine Viennese.]

    I congratulate the people of Austria on the successful conclusion of the presidential elections.

    I met His Excellency Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, President-elect, just now and had a good meeting and a good exchange of views over lunch hosted by Foreign Minister Kurz. I congratulated him in person on his victory and [said I] counted on his leadership and I expect under his leadership Austria and the United Nations partnership will continue more strongly.

    As you know, I have had a very constructive meeting with Foreign Minister Kurz and I will be meeting later this afternoon with Chancellor Kern.

    I expressed my deep appreciation for Austria's partnership with the United Nations to promote peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.

    Foreign Minister Kurz and I discussed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, and I expressed my appreciation for the dedication of the Austrian Government to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    We also discussed cooperation between the United Nations and Austria in addressing some of the most pressing issues on the international agenda, including the large movement of refugees and migrants.

    The New York Declaration was an important step in addressing the challenge of mass displacement and migration.

    But the true measure of success will lie in how Member States of the United Nations implement their commitments.

    We also exchanged views on recent developments in Syria, in the Western Balkans and Ukraine.

    Throughout our discussions, I noted that we share the same belief in the importance of multilateralism as a basis for resolving today's challenges.

    Austria's chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) next year is an opportunity to reinforce international cooperation and the partnership between the United Nations and the OSCE. 

    We also discussed the important work of my Special Envoy on Youth Employment, Mr. Werner Faymann, former Chancellor. I will be meeting Mr. Faymann shortly, this afternoon.

    For a world of peace and prosperity, we need to guarantee opportunities for youth and empower them to be global citizens and drivers of the transformative sustainable development agenda.

    In closing, allow me to express my sincere appreciation for Austria's support to the United Nations Offices in Vienna. 

    I look forward to many more visits to this beautiful city and wonderful country. 

    Danke schön.  [Thank you.]

    Q:   David Kriegleder, Austrian Public Television, Mr. Secretary-General, how do you see, where do you see Austria's role in a Europe that, at least for now, seems to be in a very concerning state of disintegration . And what are your expectations, maybe more detailed, for Austria's chairmanship of the OSCE in the upcoming year?

    SG:  Austria has always been playing a very important role. Austria is not a big power but a medium power. They have always been finding  good place diplomatically and politically. And as a member of the European Union, the European Union has always been there. That's why many important international negotiations have been taking place in this city. Vienna has been providing such a good venue. Most recently the Iranian nuclear issues where permanent members of the Security Council and European Union representatives and Germany had a nuclear deal with Iran. It must have been a painstaking process. And it also has provided many venues for international conventions and treaties and agreements . So, Vienna has been known [to have] a prestigious role to play in the international community, let alone historically, the Congress of Vienna. So I have full confidence that Austria will continue to play such a role, that's why I have been visiting a number of times. This is my twelfth visit in ten years. This is more than I have visited my home country, Korea. And I really appreciate Vienna as one of the headquarters of the United Nations.  We have four headquarters of the United Nations, in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi.  They are the four headquarters of the United Nations and they are playing a very [large] contribution in making peace and security, peace-building, also development, human rights and human dignity and nuclear issues. So you can continue to count on Austria's role.  Thank you.

    Q: Mr. Secretary-General I would have a question about Aleppo. Firstly, what do you think would be the best case scenario to resolve the siege of Aleppo. Secondly, can you confirm what Russia has said about having created safe humanitarian corridors out of Aleppo and regardless of what Russia has said, what are the chances, how likely would you say is the possibility of a UN-administered safe humanitarian corridor out of Aleppo and if so when will this happen? Thank you.

    SG: First of all the United Nations through my Special Envoy and in close coordination with the major countries in the  Security Council and also regional powers have been working very hard first of all to bring a resolution to this Syrian crisis through inclusive political solution. Unfortunately, during the last six years we have not been able to do that.

    What we have seen most recently in Eastern Aleppo, that's very heart breaking. We have been really trying to provide life-saving, life sustaining, humanitarian support to many people who have been stranded, who have been kept in the besieged areas or hard to reach areas. It has been very difficult while this fighting was going on. There were some attempts and agreements to have a cessation of hostilities. But these cessation of hostilities which have been agreed upon with a lot of difficult negotiation have easily been broken by the parties. That really made it very difficult for the UN to carry on our humanitarian assistance. While we try to resolve this through political dimension and also at the same time provide humanitarian assistance, what is important is that we have to have a sustainable cessation of hostilities so that we can have some respite, so that we can help those people.

    Despite such kind of difficult situations, [the] United Nations has at least been providing to more than 5 million people per month life-saving, humanitarian assistance, and more than 7 million people with medical supplies.

    What is more important is that with all this continuing aerial bombardment most of the infrastructure, hospitals, clinics, water supplies and food supply have been cut off, that is really a serious, humanitarian crisis.

    I have been urging the Syrian authorities and the Syrian armed groups and also the coalition partners to keep their promise, so that we do our proper humanitarian role, in the absence of a political solution. Thank you.

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