Central, Eastern European leaders warn against ‘new status quo’ of instability

25 September 2014

Addressing the General Assembly in its second day of debate, the President of Slovakia, Andrej Kiska today warned world leaders against “a new status quo” where instability, poverty, violence and hatred are “fertilizers and catalysts of terrorism.”

“A year ago, we Europeans, could hardly imagine that after investing so much effort in reaching peace and stability a new armed conflict would arise in our neighbourhood,” said Mr. Kiska, as he also denounced the violation of the territorial integrity of any state.

“What Ukraine needs today is to restore peace, stability, implement reforms and be reassured of guarantees of the inviolability of its territory,” said the Slovakian President.

Only dialogue and diplomatic solution of the conflict, with the participation of Russia, will lead to a sustainable peace in Ukraine. He also underscored the need to stand united in Iraq to prevent ISIL from taking hold of any more territory and extremist ideologies from becoming successful.

Slovakia, with its history of transitioning from a totalitarian regime to a democracy, knows first-hand the importance of security sector reform and the establishment of stable security institutions, such as army and police. President Kiska also pledged his commitment to stabilizing Afghanistan, where a Slovakian national led the UN Mission.

Disarmament is essential for eliminating potential sources of tension and conflicts, President Kiska said, urging nations to sign the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to help monitor and regulate the international trade of conventional weapons.

Also speaking today, Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic called on world leaders to come up with a “zero tolerance policy” towards terrorism and agree on a joint global effort to prevent extremist organizations from flourishing and gaining ground.

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President Ivo Josipovic of the Republic of Croatia addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Mr. Josipovic said he was deeply concerned about the situation in Ukraine and said there was no other but a peaceful solution to the conflict. The violence must end and all sides must resort to political solutions that uphold the principles of international law including the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The President of Croatia said a world at peace meant a world without weapons of mass destruction, and he urged leaders to reinforce the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The UN has a special role in maintaining peace and particularly advancing the role of women in conflict resolution and the sustainable development of post-conflict societies.

On climate change, he pointed out that Croatia is a vulnerable country that is currently devastated by unprecedented floods. Cutting down greenhouse gas emissions must remain one of the main pillars of a post-2015 development agenda.

“Having in mind the need for progress, we have committed ourselves to implement the Millennium Development Goals- this is our unfinished business,” he said, adding that Croatia has pledged itself to a truly transformative and people-centred framework of Sustainable Development Goals for post-2015.

President Josipovic also pledged solidarity to Ebola-affected countries in West Africa and reiterated the need for Security Council reform. On a regional matter, he said that consolidating European space will be possible only with further stabilization of Southeast Europe. To that end, the region is finding ways of cooperating and laying foundation for joint development.

Taking to the podium this afternoon, Romania’s Prime Minister, Victor Ponta expressed great concern for the current situation in Ukraine, given its impacts on the security of the countries in Eastern Europe.

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Prime Minister Victor-Viorel Ponta of Romania addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

The crisis started with the “unilateral annexation” of Crimea, an integral part of the sovereign State of Ukraine, by Russia. Romania was against any form of external pressure towards the states in Eastern Europe having European integration aspirations.

“A strong, united and sovereign Ukraine, committed to its European path and to reforms in the economic and political fields is in the best interest of Europe,” he said, calling on the international community to get involved in finding a solution.

Mr. Ponta commended the UN for its constant presence in the field and its efforts to monitor the day-to-day developments on the ground. For years, the countries of Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region have been for peace and cooperation. But instability in Ossetia, Abkhazia and now Donetsk, continue to obstruct these goals. Regional cooperation is essential for ensuring stability, in building confidence and in promoting the universal principles and values of the UN.

Another source of concern is the spread of extremism throughout the Middle East, namely in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threatens to destabilize the entire region as well as international order. In the field of development, he said a future agenda must address poverty, good governance and the rule of law. But to combat extremism, the future global development plan should also provide a platform for social inclusion, gainful employment and hope to future generations.

At the podium this afternoon, Poland’s President, Bronislaw Komorowski, said that the international community needs to emphasize with “all might” that the “occupation of Crimea” and aggression in Ukraine is a violation of international law and runs roughshod over the fundamental values of the UN.

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President Bronislaw Komorowski of the Republic of Poland addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

“This ideological background of the conflict is the return to the rhetoric from the first half of the previous century…the logic of the law of the mightier and the ruthless imperial domination over weaker neighbours,” Mr. Komorowski said.

In recent years, Europe has witnessed a “great wave of unification” through mechanisms of integration of the European communities. Indeed, the European Union has become a guarantor of peace in Europe and far beyond its borders.

“What happened six months ago in Eastern Europe dealt a blow to that and threatened security on our continent. In our part of Europe, people are again asking themselves whether war as a method of obtaining a political goal will also be the European long-term reality,” he said.

He expressed solidarity with the people of Syria, Libya, Israel, Gaza and many African nations in conflict. Nobody could ever take the place of the UN in providing aid to refugees and other victims of these humanitarian catastrophes. These conflicts were driven by absolute power, which is almost always corrupt and incapable of lifting countries out of poverty. Hence, it is essential to attain the appropriate inclusion of these questions in the new UN development agenda.

Also today, Albanian President, Bujar Nishani said that while maintaining peace and security was a top UN priority, disasters were erupting at a frightening pace and the world spiralling into insecurities in South Sudan, Syria, Iraq and in his region, in Ukraine.

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President Bujar Nishani of Albania addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

“Despite all the propaganda that was thrown out from Russia, the Ukraine crisis had nothing to do with protecting the rights of ethnic Russians. It was much simpler; it was, since the very first moment, about one’s country’s ambition to redraw its own borders to satisfy a territory appetite of a more powerful neighbour,” he said.

On other matters, he said that to safeguard development gains, the world needs to once and for all eradicate all forms of poverty everywhere, address environmental degradation and promote inclusive economic growth. His region, the Western Balkans, is fully committed to a path of political stability and the European Union membership obtained in June enables Albania to take the first steps to intensify its reform process.

“The Independent State of Kosova, the youngest state in the region”, has managed, he continued, in less than six years, to integrate into major international organizations and in that time also become an important factor of peace and stability. It is recognized to date by some 108 UN Member States, Mr. Nishani noted, calling on countries which have not yet done so to recognize it.

Sustainable development was the focus of Janos Áder’s address to the General Assembly, for whom the Hungarian President had tough words about climate change.

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János Ader, President of Hungary, addresses the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

“Speeches I heard in the past few days deflected responsibility and presented a narrow-mindedness,” he told the high-level debate. “Why can’t we listen to the advice of our scientists?

Why can we not accept the signals of our own planet? And why are we not learning from our own example?”

Mr. Áder has said Hungary was able to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 per cent, overshadowing the pledged 6 per cent in Kyoto. A successor to that protocol is due to be finalized in Paris next year.

In his address, given in the renovated General Assembly Hall on a more eco-friendly UN complex, Mr. Áder highlighted Hungary’s efforts to increase its energy efficiency and use more alternative energy resources.

“If you want calm, you have to prepare for disasters,” he told the 193-Member body. “It’s no longer to reduce emissions, we have to prepare for more serious natural disasters.”

Taking to the podium this evening, Bulgaria’s President, Rosen Plevneliev said that over the last few months Bulgaria and the Balkans have suffered unprecedented floods and thousands of people lost their homes, crops were ruined, and many innocent people died.

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President Rossen Plevneliev of Bulgaria addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Climate change needs to be urgently addressed, and no real transformative post-2015 development agenda would be possible unless loopholes of the current MDGs are dealt with.

Mr. Plevneliev said Bulgaria does not recognize the “illegal annexation” of and referendum in Crimea, and condemns the Russian Federation for violating international law. He welcomed regional integration including through the Association Agreements of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia with the European Union.

The situation in Syria and Iraq was extremely concerning, he said, condemning in the strongest terms possible the killings of religious and ethnic minorities. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) fills a serious gap in international law as it establishes regulations for trade in conventional arms. He also condemned the recurrent trend of brutal and “disgusting” manifestations of anti-Semitism.

Natalia Gherman, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova said her country had chosen a “European future,” having this year signed, ratified and applied an economic agreement which makes the economy more competitive and integrates it into the mainstream of global trade.

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Natalia Gherman of Moldova addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

The next goal is to apply for a full-fledged European Union membership. Now we must focus on enhancing energy security, developing rural communities and strengthening good governance, she said. Recently a pipeline has been finalized that connects Moldova to wider Europe and similar projects will be developed in the years to come. Jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits will rise and travel to the EU along with trade and economic opportunities will open.

These benefits should be shared with the people of the Transnistria region as well. The political settlement must be based on sovereignty, territorial integrity and a special political status. Continuing presence of Russian military forces is contrary to international commitments and Republic of Moldova’s national Constitution, she said, calling on Russia to withdraw and for the international community put in place a multinational peacekeeping mission.

The Republic of Moldova has also faced “unjustified restrictions” on its exports to the Russian Federation, which she said she hoped could be resolved through dialogue with Russian partners based on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. In this regard, the EU was helpful in lessening the hardship of farmers and other agriculture producers.

 

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