Annan arrives in Russian Federation for high-level meetings
According to a UN spokesperson, Mr. Annan met with members of the country's Federation Council - the upper house of the Russian Parliament - and its newly elected speaker, Sergei Mironov.
“In addition to reviewing a wide range of international issues, the Secretary-General raised the Georgia/Abkhaz issue,” Marie Okabe said, adding that Mr. Annan had also called on all leaders to speak up about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin and attend a working luncheon with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Ms. Okabe said at a press briefing.
Before arriving in Moscow, Mr. Annan wrapped up his first-ever trip to Ukraine, where this morning he addressed the Parliament. "It is a great pleasure indeed to be visiting Ukraine at this time and to see, firsthand, the way your country is being transformed, and is beginning to play its proper role in a peaceful and united Europe," he said.
The Secretary-General observed that for decades, the great project of European cooperation had encompassed only part of the continent - "as if an orchestra was forced to perform with brass but no strings." The end of the Cold War had opened Europe's frontiers, with Ukraine playing its part in the newfound liberation, including by taking the "enlightened step of forswearing the use of nuclear weapons."
Mr. Annan hailed the democratic and economic transition under way in the country and underscored the important role played by lawmakers in that effort. "You parliamentarians are both a key manifestation of this transition and among its most important guardians," he said.
In addition, the Secretary-General said Ukraine's parliamentarians had a key place in the international arena. "More and more of today's challenges and threats transcend national borders, from environmental degradation and the spread of disease to drug trafficking and the proliferation of weapons," he said. "Thus you are not only an essential link between the local and the national, you are also a bridge between the local and the global."