Ban Ki-moon has probably one of the most difficult jobs in the world.
As Secretary General of the UN, he has to seek international concord on a range of thorny issues, such as climate change, immigration, development, world poverty, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the establishment of Palestine -all issues which would daunt a lesser man.
Christophe Midol-Monnet of euronews caught up with him in Strasbourg and put him in the hot seat.
“Mr Secretary General, welcome to euronews. In the weeks ahead, climate change will be back on top of the international agenda. Do you agree with José Manuel Barroso that the Cancun Summit in December will most probably fail in renewing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change? Why are these negotiations so painfully unsuccessful?”
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General:
“This is a matter of political will of the member states. There is a high awareness in the international community that this climate change issue is a defining issue of our era. There is no question about that. It may be the case that we may not be able to have a globally acceptable agreement, a comprehensive and binding agreement, but we have been making some tangible progress in deforestation and forest degradation, providing financial support particularly fast, starting support for developing countries, technology adaptation and capacity building. We have to build upon these five areas so that we will have a much better progress when we go to South Africa next year. But we are doing our best to have as much progress as possible in Cancun.”
“Although economically necessary, immigration is more and more depicted in Europe as a social and political threat. Multiculturalism has even recently been branded as a failure by Angela Merkel. Do you perceive a trend to more nationalism in Europe, and does it worry you?”
“I know that there has been some controversy in some European countries over migrant workers and minorities. As far as the United Nations is concerned, as Secretary General, we are urging all the member states to provide and to protect the full human rights of those people whose human rights might be discriminated against, and might not be fully protected. The United Nations has taken a initiative by convening an international forum of ‘Migration for Development.’ We have had a meeting already three times. We are going to continue this one. Now the purpose of these meetings is: how we can use these migrating workers’ contribution towards a very positive and favourable way of social and economic development.”
“So, in your view, the migration issue is not worse in Europe than in other continents?”
“This is a common phenomenon elsewhere. There is a tendency that people regard these migrant workers as ‘The Others.’ But if we are more generous enough and more inclusive, then they can be ‘Ours.’ Likewise the people of our countries can also be regarded as ‘The Others’ in other countries. Therefore social inclusion is very important. I believe in cultural diversity. I believe in mobility. And therefore, all this cultural diversity should be promoted and respected in a positive way.”
“In terms of solidarity worldwide, what do you expect from the G20 Summit to be held in Seoul next month?”
“For the first time in the G20’s history, the leaders are going to take up the development agenda. While they will be discussing how to consolidate their financial situation, how to make austerity, at the same time, they will discuss how the G20 leaders can provide the sense of hope and how they can deal with all extreme poverty issues, how they can deal with overall development issues, including climate change. That is quite encouraging.”
“Negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue are about to resume in Vienna. Are the United Nations and the European Union on the same wavelength on the Iranian issue and also on nuclear non-proliferation in general?”
“I have discussed this matter with Lady Ashton (the European Union’s foreign policy chief). I am encouraged that the talks have been moving towards a favourable direction. Whenever and wherever I have been meeting Iranian authorities, I have been urging them to return to dialogue and engage negotiations with E3+3 and that seems to be happening as soon as in early November. As Secretary General, I will spare no efforts to facilitate such negotiation process. There is no other way but dialogue, through which we can resolve this issue in a peaceful manner.”
“What is your position about a more and more frequently heard proposal: welcoming a new member into the United Nations, namely Palestine?”
“Now Palestine and Israel are engaging in a peace talks process, even though this has been stalled over these settlement issues. As a member of the Quartet and as Secretary General of the United Nations, I have been working very hard with the parties concerned, both Israel and Palestine, and also the important members of the Arab world and also the United States. We hope that this peace process will be resumed as soon as possible so that we will be able to realise the vision of a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side-by-side in peace and security. By then, we would be able to welcome Palestine as a new member state of the United Nations.”