Secretary-General's Visit  
 

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OVERVIEW

On January the 21st 2004, Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan commenced his nine-day travel trough Western Europe. His first stop was Baden Baden, Germany were he was given the German Media Prize in recognition of the most outstanding person of the year. The following day the Secretary General continued his travels to Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum. There he spoke of the importance of the Global Compact and corporate responsibility in areas such as human rights, labour and the environment.
The SG left for Stockholm on the afternoon of the 25th of January. He attended and addressed the Stockholm Forum on Preventing Genocide. He recommended establishing a Committee and a Special Rapporteur on the prevention of genocide. He then flew to Paris on Monday 26 January. In Paris he met with President Jacques Chirac, Edouard Balladur, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly. He issued a statement saying that the United Nations could play a constructive role in Iraq. The Secretary General later attended a meeting hosted by the French president of business executives on the Global Compact.
He travelled to Brussels from Paris on the morning of Wednesday, 28 January, where he met with various European Union senior officials such as European Commission President Romano Prodi, Mr Brian Cowen, Foreign Minister of Ireland, and European Parliament President Mr Pat Cox. He was presented, by Mr Cox, the Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. On Friday the 29th January the Secretary General inaugurated the European Regional United Nations Information Office (RUNIC) together with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhoftadt. He thanked the Belgian Government for having provided the premises for the new RUNIC free of charge.
The Secretary General continued to the residence of the Prime Minister, where he received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Gent.The Secretary General and his party flew to Geneva later that afternoon where he met Presidents Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Ricardo Lagos Escobar of Chile and Jacques Chirac of France to discuss a fresh initiative to combat global hunger and poverty.


SECRETARY-GENERAL ACTIVITIES IN BADEN BADEN, 21 JANUARY;
RECEIVES GERMAN MEDIA PRIZE

On the 21st January, 2004 the Secretary-General met with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Baden Baden. Their talks mainly touched on problem areas like Iraq, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Afghanistan.
He was later that evening given the German Media Prize by Karlheinz Koegel, who created the prize in 1992 to recognize the most outstanding person of the year, as selected by a jury composed of Germany’s leading editors.
In his acceptance speech, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations will remember 2003 as one of the most difficult and painful years in its history. For the year ahead, he pointed to the need to increase attention to the need to fight AIDS, which he called the “deadliest epidemic in human history”, and to refocus the world’s attention on development. At the same time, he said, we must show that the United Nations is capable of fulfilling its purpose of ensuring collective security, so that States do not feel obliged or entitled to take the law into its own hands. The Secretary-General added another challenge that needs attention this year: the rebuilding of trust among peoples of different faiths and cultures.(See Press Release SG/SM/9124.)
Afterwards, the Secretary-General attended a dinner hosted by Mr. Koegel.



ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN DAVOS, 22-25 JANUARY
The Secretary-General arrived in Davos on 22 January, for three days, to attend the World Economic Forum. Shortly after his arrival, he met with other Senior United Nations figures attending the forum. He then finished the day with two bilateral meetings with the President-elect of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, and with the new Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
On 23 January, the Secretary-General gave the keynote address at the World Economic Forum . He told the Forum that, “in just a few short years, the prevailing atmosphere has shifted from a belief in the near-inevitability of globalization to a deep uncertainty about the very survival of our global order”. He said that it is in the interest of business for government to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and noting that the war in Iraq had shifted attention from those goals, he warned, “It is time to rebalance the international agenda”. The Secretary-General drew attention to the accomplishments of his Global Compact in pushing for corporate responsibility over the past five years, but said more must be accomplished, and added he would convene a Global Compact Summit at United Nations Headquarters in June to reassess the Compact’s work.(See Press Release SG/SM/9125.)
In the margins of the forum, the Secretary-General had a full two day program of bilateral meetings with heads of State and United Nations officials. Among these was a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, were they discussed about Israel’s separation barrier, which Mr. Annan sees as an obstacle to the “Road Map” for peace. The Secretary General also met Mr. Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the Arab League. They discussed Coalition plans for the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis and the possible United Nations role in that process
On 25 January, before leaving Davos, the Secretary-General had a breakfast meeting with the chief executive officers of some of the world’s largest corporations to discuss the Global Compact. It was in Davos, five years ago, he told them, that he first proposed the Global Compact, calling on business leaders to embrace within their sphere of influence universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, and the environment. He praised the more than 1,200 companies from over 70 countries that are now participating in the Global Compact, as well as dozens of global labour and civil society organizations. He also challenged them to think of ways to make the Compact more effective.(See Press Release SG/SM/9135.)
He then flew to Stockholm, Sweden.


ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN STOCKHOLM, 25-26 JANUARY
The Secretary-General arrived in Stockholm from Davos in the afternoon of 25 January, to attend the Stockholm Forum on Preventing Genocide.
In the late afternoon on the 25th, he met with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Goran Persson. At a press encounter afterwards, the Prime Minister said that they had discussed the situation in Europe, and particularly Cyprus, in light of the Secretary-General’s meeting the previous day with the Turkish Prime Minister; they also touched on United Nations reform and the United Nations role in Iraq.On 26 January, the Secretary-General addressed the Stockholm Forum on Preventing Genocide as one of the keynote speakers. He said that the prevention of genocide may be considered one of the original purposes of the United Nations. At the time of its founding, the words “never again” were on everyone’s lips.
In response to this failure, efforts have been made to change the culture of the United Nations, from one of reaction to one of prevention. But he offered suggestions of new ideas that should be explored.
First, he proposed that the parties to the Genocide Convention set up a committee to review reports and recommend action, as is currently done for other international treaties.
Second, he recommended establishing a Special Rapporteur on the prevention of genocide, who would report directly to the Security Council, to make clear the link between massive violations of human rights and threats to international peace and security.(See Press Release SG/SM/9126.)
The Secretary-General then attended a luncheon hosted by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in honour of the heads of State attending the Forum.
In the afternoon, he had a private meeting with the former United Nations chief weapons inspector for Iraq, Hans Blix.


ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN FRANCE, 26 - 28 JANUARY
Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Paris from Stockholm late on Monday, 26 January.
On Tuesday morning, he issued a statement saying he had concluded that the United Nations could play a constructive role in Iraq. Once satisfied that the Coalition Provisional Authority would provide adequate security arrangements, the statement said, he would send a mission to ascertain the views of a broad spectrum of Iraqi society in the search for alternatives that might be developed to move forward to the formation of a provisional government.(See Press Release SG/SM/9129) His first appointment of the day was with Edouard Balladur, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly. Mr. Balladur presented a copy of a report he had produced on the subject of globalization.
Iraq and African issues dominated the working lunch he had with President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. At a press encounter afterwards, the President said he fully supported the Secretary-General’s plan to send a fact-finding mission to Iraq.
After lunch the Secretary-General met with Jacques Dermagne, the President of the Economic and Social Council of France. They discussed the Council’s work in the fight against poverty.
He later attended a meeting hosted by President Chirac of business executives on the Global Compact. The Secretary-General told the group that he warmly welcomed the creation of a French network in support of the Compact, which will join more than 50 other such networks in the world. He said we must recognize that the fight against corruption is essential to give meaning to the principles we wish to uphold.(See Press Release SG/SM/9131.)


ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN BELGIUM, 28-30 JANUARY
Secretary-General Kofi Annan travelled to Brussels from Paris in the morning of Wednesday, 28 January.
He held meetings with European Commission President Romano Prodi, Mr. Brian Cowen, Foreign Minister of Ireland, which currently holds the EU presidency as well as with several senior European Union officials. They discussed the EU’s relations with the United Nations, UN reform, the Doha round of trade negations, the fight against AIDS and a number of European issues.
On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan went to the European Parliament where they were greeted by President Pat Cox as well as by school children. The Secretary-General then had an exchange with members of the Parliament’s Committee for Foreign Affairs, taking a number of questions from them on United Nations/European Union relations, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cyprus, United Nations reform and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Mr. Annan then proceeded to the Parliament chamber, where President Cox presented the Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the United Nations, in memory of those United Nations staff members who had lost their lives in the service of peace. The Secretary-General accepted the prize, on their behalf, saying he was deeply touched that among those honoured was his friend and colleague, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and other United Nations staff killed in the line of duty. He told the Parliament that the international community needs to manage the movement of people across borders far better than we do, and encouraged European States to open greater avenues for legal migration.(See Press Release SG/SM/9134.)
After lunch he began an official visit to Belgium with an audience with His Majesty King Albert II.
He then met with Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel for talks that focused largely on Central Africa. They discussed Belgium’s bilateral assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the training of the army. The Secretary-General continued his official visit to Belgium on Friday with a meeting with Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and a dozen senior members of his Government, including Foreign Minister Louis Michel.
Together with the Belgian Prime Minister he visited and inaugurated the European Regional UN Information Centre (RUNIC) in Brussels, which replaces nine national information centers that were closed down at the end of 2003. The Secretary General also thanked the Belgian Government for having so generously provided the premises for the new RUNIC free of charge. (See Press Release SG/SM/9136.)
The Secretary-General then went to the residence of the Prime Minister, where he received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Ghent. The degree had originally been offered in March 2003, but the crisis in Iraq prevented the Secretary-General from traveling to Belgium at that time. (See Press Release SG/SM/9137.)
After lunch, the Secretary-General and his party flew to Geneva, where he was to meet with Presidents Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Ricardo Lagos Escobar of Chile and Jacques Chirac of France to discuss a fresh initiative to combat global hunger and poverty.


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