For information only - not an official document

14 May 2018

The Secretary-General

Remarks at press stakeout with his Excellency Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, Federal President, of the Republic of Austria

Vienna, 14 May 2018

Thank you very much, Mr. President. It is an enormous pleasure for me to be back in Vienna, this time as Secretary-General of the United Nations, and to express my deep gratitude and appreciation. Austria is an exemplary host country for United Nations offices and activities -- offices and activities that are gaining more and centrality in relation to the political challenges of today.

Let us not forget that we are witnessing a serious risk in relation to non-proliferation. The nuclear issues are again at the centre of the political debate worldwide. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is in Vienna, and it will inevitably play an important role in the near future.

And the same, of course, with the [Comprehensive] Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the creation of progressive conditions for its approval.

When one looks at developments in relation to cybercrime and terrorism, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is more and more a central agency in the activities of the UN.

And so it is fortunate for us that those and other agencies that are, as I said, at the very centre of the political debate of today are in Vienna and benefit from the exemplary support of the Austrian Government.

I would like to pay tribute to the leadership of the President of Austria since many years ago in relation to climate change, and that leadership today is more necessary than ever.

Climate change is running faster than we are. There is a risk to the possibilities to achieve the objectives of Paris, a growth of temperature in the world not above 1.5 degrees at the end of the century. There is a risk that if this goes on in the next years that these objectives are becoming not achievable.

So we need to run faster, we need to have enhanced ambitions. We need to implement Paris, but we have to recognize that Paris is not enough. The commitments made in Paris are not sufficient for climate change to be effectively controlled. 

We see the technology being favourable to us. We see today that renewable energy is the cheapest energy everywhere but we are still also witnessing the fact that for many Governments, fossil fuels go on receiving subsidies and many infrastructure projects are not green.

It is true and it is a sentence that I have learnt and that I like to repeat: "The stone age did not end for lack of stones". I believe the fossil fuel age will not end for lack of fossil fuels. It ends when technologies are available and when Governments and other institutions understand the need to use technologies available to change things for the benefit of humankind.

Tomorrow there will be a very important conference that represents an extremely valid contribution by Austria to lead in this area, and I am very glad that I will have a chance to participate and once again to make sure that we all recognize that climate change is the defining threat of our times to the future of humankind.

Q1: Good afternoon, Secretary-General. The Austrian media is very much interested in an incident that took place in 2012 on the Golan Heights. You heard about it, I guess. So I would appreciate a statement of the UN, of you as the Secretary-General on that. And if I may add another question on the Middle East. You mentioned it before that you are very worried about today's ongoings in the Gaza Strip. Maybe you could elaborate on that as well.


First of all, we have full confidence in the Austrian authorities that are opening an investigation in those incidents and we are absolutely sure that that investigation will lead to the adequate actions from the Austrian authorities and we will be fully cooperating with the Austrian authorities on this. There is no reason for us not to have full confidence in the Austrian capacity to deal with the issue.

I had the occasion already to express that I am deeply concerned with the incidents that took place in Gaza, appealing for necessary containment and of course I am particularly worried because, according to the news I have received, it is already a very meaningful number of people who have been killed. This is one reason more for me to believe that we need a political solution for the Israeli-Palestinian question and that there is no Plan B to a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians can leave in peace with mutual security ensured and with the full cooperation of the international community.

Danke schön. Thank you.

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