Sunday, 17 January 2021

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres at Munich Security Conference: “The Syrian conflict has become a terrible threat for many countries”

 United Nations Secretary-General Guterres at Munich Security Conference, Germany

Addressing the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized that several preconditions have to be met in order to reach a lasting solution for the conflict in Syria. 

“Peace in Syria is only possible if all parties understand that nobody can win. I’m not optimistic about a short–term solution to the crisis. The Syrian conflict has become a terrible threat for many countries. It is essential to start the political process and it is also important to say that we can’t fight Daesh if we don’t find an inclusive political solution for Syria and Iraq”, UNSG Guterres said on Saturday.

While highlighting the urgent need for effective multilateral institutions like the EU and the UN, Guterres also emphasized in his speech the need for comprehensive reform of the UN system.

United Nations Secretary-General Guterres speaking at Munich Security Conference, Germany

“We all feel the lack of confidence in international institutions. The structures are dysfunctional at the UN”, he said. As an example, the Secretary-General mentioned the work of the UN in the field of development: “It’s too fragmented and therefore better coordination and stronger accountability are needed”.

On Friday evening, the Secretary-General met with German Chancellor Merkel in Munich. Both of them underlined the importance of the United Nations during times of mounting insecurity. “I truly believe in multilateralism, in the need for countries to come together and to use multilateral institutions to be able, in a spirit of solidarity, to advance the enormous challenges of today’s world”, Guterres pointed out during a joint press briefing with German Chancellor Merkel.

The Munich conference agenda focuses on the future of transatlantic relations and NATO after the election of Donald Trump, the state of European Union cooperation in security and defence matters, the Ukraine crisis and relations with Russia, and the war in Syria. The 500 participants are also discussing terrorism, information warfare, as well as major threats to global health and climate security.

European Council President Donald Tusk, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and US Vice President Mike Pence are among the group of more than 30 heads of state and government, 80 foreign and defence ministers and other officials who are attending the gathering.

Earlier this week, the UN Secretary-General participated in a G20 working group session in Bonn, entitled 'Making Peace in a Complex World.'

The Group of 20 major developed and emerging economies reaffirmed cooperation in advancing global issues such as development, peace building and cooperation with Africa. The ministers also exchanged views on how the G20 can better assist the development of Africa and eradicate poverty on the continent.

While in Munich, the Secretary-General will have several bilateral meetings with heads of state and government as well as business leaders before concluding his 3-day visit to Germany on Saturday evening.


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