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European nations spotlight value of partnerships during General Assembly debate

European nations spotlight value of partnerships during General Assembly debate

European countries addressing the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate today stressed the value of multilateralism and called for international relations to be based more on partnerships, whether among individual States or with regional groups or the United Nations and other organizations.

Austria’s Federal Minister for European and International Affairs Ursula Plassnik said the major global problems and challenges of the current era are so complex that partnerships are the only feasible option.

“In the age of globalization, unilateralism and nationalism are dead-end streets,” she said. “They simply do not achieve effective and durable results.”

Ms. Plassnik said effective partnerships starts with regional cooperation, citing the closer relationship between the European Union and the African Union and the example of a conference on sustainable peace that Austria and Burkina Faso are co-hosting in Ouagadougou in November.

“Austria believes in the power of partnership where equality, mutual trust and respect for diversity overcome the crude logic of power,” she said.

Calling on nations to work more closely together, Sergei Martynov, the Foreign Minister of Belarus, questioned the “imposed myths” of a clash of civilizations or a confrontation between North and South.

“The international community should through its actions today build a practical partnership that will form the foundation of a new world order,” he said.

Mr. Martynov said problems such as human trafficking, the search for renewable energy sources and climate change transcended borders and required coordinated international efforts, with countries and regional groups and the UN teaming up to devise common strategies and actions.

Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ivaïlo Kalfin hailed the recent efforts of the UN to work more closely with the EU, the AU and NATO.

Mr. Kalfin said the planned hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (to be known as UNAMID) in the war-wracked Sudanese region of Darfur indicated how multilateralism can be made even more effective.

Icelandic Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said prosperous nations had a duty to work in partnership with poorer States to help the latter achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of anti-poverty goals which world leaders agreed at a UN summit in 2000 to strive to achieve by 2015.

“Donors need to deliver on their promises and accelerate their efforts in increasing development assistance,” she said, adding that increased aid “is, of course, not a panacea. We need to make progress in international trade negotiations.”

The Foreign Minister said Iceland’s own example, transforming within living memory from one of Europe’s poorest members to one of its richest, testified “to the fact that it through civilized coexistence with the community of nations that societies prosper.”

Željko Šturanovi ć, Prime Minister of Montenegro, the newest UN Member State, was one of several European speakers today to also emphasize the need for the Organization to continue its programme of reform.

The General Assembly must remain the primary decision-making organ of the world body, he said, while any change to the composition of Security Council membership should not be at the expense of the “equitable representation of the Eastern European Group,” to which it is a member.

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned that failure to maintain the pace of reform could marginalize the UN system in the long-term.

“The choice before us is clear,” Mr. Asselborn said, adding that system-wide coherence is particularly crucial to ensuring the success of development operations in poor nations.