Thursday, October 7, 2010

Press Conference by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at United Nations Headquarters

6 October 2010

Question: Mr. Secretary-General, in looking back at the General Assembly and the ministerial meetings, there was also a very big focus on both the Middle East and Africa, though you also did several other side events, particularly Somalia and on Myanmar. I wondered if you could comment on how concerned you are, or what’s being done to actually try and prevent Somalia from collapsing totally, and whether there is any possibility of doing anything on Myanmar to open up the upcoming elections to include the opposition?

Secretary-General: Those two issues were high on our [list of priorities], and I myself chaired one mini-summit meeting on Somalia where many African and Arab leaders participated. And I also chaired the Group of Friends on Myanmar on the margins of the general debate. Now, on Somalia, I was encouraged by the strong commitment of the world leaders that we need to first of all support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia in their efforts to strengthen their national capacity — army and police, as well as the capacity of their domestic institutions. For that, we need to provide, continuously, financial and political support. I think we will continue to do that. As far as the United Nations is concerned, we have some specific concrete ideas. First of all, we will increase the frequency of the senior UN political mission in Somalia, UNPOS, to visit Somalia as often as possible at the senior level to have consultations with the Somali Government and to show our strong political support.

Secondly, we will try to have our staff permanently based in Mogadishu, Somaliland and Puntland. And they will continue to have more frequent and higher-level ministerial consultations with the Government of TFG so that we can have better coordination with the TFG on the ground. These are some things which we have in our mind. We will of course continue to fight against piracy. We have great support from Member States. As you know, during the month of July, I presented some options and recommendations to the Security Council on how we can more effectively prosecute those arrested pirates and how we can better address in our common efforts to fight against piracy. So, this is still a high priority. We don’t work for the collapse of this; we work for the success and stability and security of Somalia.

On Myanmar, I have had very close meetings, consultations, with the countries concerned. And during the General Assembly, I had a meeting with the 10 ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Foreign Ministers, and today, I am going to have a meeting with the Prime Minister of Thailand. And I am going to participate in the UN-ASEAN summit meeting. During all my interactions with those ASEAN and other key Member States, an inclusive and transparent election is a high priority. This election is going to be the first in 20 years. And I have been urging and stating publicly that this election must be conducted in a transparent and inclusive and credible manner, with all political prisoners freed before the election. That’s what I have conveyed — a strong message to Myanmar — that’s what I am going to continue to press.

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