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UN Press Release: Ciller, Shehu on Iraq. General Assembly, 96-09-30

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:

30 September 1996

Press Release


Regional Tensions also Discussed by Others as General Debate Continues; Statements by Albania, Rwanda, Australia, Tunisia, Honduras and Estonia
Iraq must fully comply with its obligations under international law for the region to return to normal, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Tansu Ciller, told the General Assembly this afternoon. As the Assembly continued its opening debate, other speakers joined the Minister in addressing regional concerns and ways of reducing regional tensions.

While Turkey remained committed to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, Foreign Minister Ciller said the situation in northern Iraq should not be allowed to threaten the security of neighbouring countries. Turkey would take all necessary measures to protect its security interests, and to prevent terrorists in northern Iraq from launching operations against Turkey.

Calling upon the United Nations to continue peace efforts in the Balkans, the Foreign Minister of Albania, Tritan Shehu, said the acute problems in Kosova must be resolved in the spirit of the Dayton peace accords. The right to self-determination and the will of the people of Kosova -- 90 per cent of whom were Albanian -- must be respected, he said. While a just solution could be found through international mediated dialogue, the authorities in Belgrade must take steps to implement the Dayton agreement.

Reviewing the tensions in the Great Lakes region of Africa, Gideon Kayinamura (Rwanda) said the political leadership responsible for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and their army and militia, were still at large. Those elements, who remained in Zairian refugee camps near Rwanda's border, had stepped up infiltrations into Rwanda. The international community must exert pressure on the Government of Zaire to relocate the refugees away from the border and to end killing and persecution of Kinyarwanda-speaking Zairians in the North and South Kivu regions, he said.

Statements were also made this afternoon by the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Tunisia, Honduras and the representative of Estonia.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 1 October, to continue its general debate.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its general debate. Scheduled to speak were the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Turkey, Australia, Tunisia and Honduras, and the representatives of Rwanda and Estonia.


TRITAN SHEHU, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Albania, said his country actively supported Security Council reforms, such as the inclusion of Germany and Japan as permanent members and allowing more diverse participation of Member States. Continued reform of the Economic and Social Council was also vital.

As Albania continued its process towards democracy, the legacies remained of class struggle, absolute poverty and isolation, he continued. The prolonged crisis in the former Yugoslavia and the sanctions imposed on the region had increased difficulties. None the less, Albania had adopted a multi-party system and experienced economic growth due to economic reform. Also, Albania's international prestige had grown. It had, for example, already joined the Council of Europe and participated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace. Albania had worked to maintain peace and stability in the Balkans and had actively supported efforts to restore peace to the former Yugoslavia. The international community, in particular the United Nations, must continue to attend to the situation in the Balkans.

The problems in Kosova remained acute, he continued. Populated by more than 90 per cent Albanians who had lived there for thousands of years, Kosova was the first to be touched by the danger of Serb nationalism in the former Yugoslavia. However, few had paid attention to the early threat and the international community had waited until the crisis turned bloody in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The issues of Kosova, which remained explosive, must be solved in the spirit of the Dayton peace accords. An armed conflict between the Albanians living in Kosova and the Serbs had been avoided as a result of a peaceful policy pursued by the legitimate representatives of the people of Kosova and the policy of Albania. Continuing, he said Kosova deserved a status in line with the political will of its population and in accordance with international documents, which acknowledged the right of peoples to self- determination. Through constructive dialogue, in the presence of a third international party, a just solution could be found. The normalization of relations with Serbia and Montenegro depended on steps being taken by Belgrade to implement the Dayton peace plan, including concrete measures to end the repression and violation of the rights of the Kosova people. Also, a serious commitment to a peaceful solution to the Kosova question must be demonstrated.

Albania and Greece had built good relations, he said. That good relationship demonstrated that the existence of national minorities in neighbouring countries could serve as a "bridge of friendship" between countries. The recognition and equal treatment of national minorities and the respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each country were the important elements of such relations. While issues regarding the Albanians living in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia remained to be resolved, Albania was interested in building relations of mutual interest with that country.

TANSU CILLER, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, citing the need for international solidarity and concerted action against the scourge of terrorism, said terrorism posed a lethal threat to international peace and security. The United Nations had to play a central role in confronting the problem and it was important that the international community not condone the countries that were behind terrorism. Terrorism was one of the main obstacles blocking the path to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Turkey stood ready to take part in enhanced cooperation on the bilateral, regional and international levels.

Turning to regional issues, she said Turkey's policy towards Iraq continued to be a commitment to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of that country. Iraq's full compliance with its obligations under international law remained vital for the return to normalcy in the region. Turkey was closely following recent developments in northern Iraq, which might further aggravate the already delicate situation in the region. To bring durable calm to the area, all segments of the local population, including Kurds, Turkomans, Arabs, Assyrians, and others should fully participate in any local administrative arrangement. Northern Iraq should not be permitted to pose a threat to the security of the neighbouring countries. Turkey would not tolerate terrorist elements to use northern Iraq to stage terrorist acts against its territory. Her country was determined to take all necessary measures to protect its legitimate security interests and to deny terrorist elements the possibility of launching terrorist operations from northern Iraq.

She noted that Turkey was now in the forefront of countries that had been directly and most adversely affected by the sanctions regime. In fact, the heavy toll her country had paid had long exceeded its ability to sustain the financial strain on the economy. Although Council resolution 986 (1995) on the "oil for food" programme would bring a limited relief for Turkey, it would in no way be commensurate with the total losses. Consequently, Turkey had applied to the United Nations Sanctions Committee with a view to obtaining further appropriate compensation within the framework of the sanctions regime.

Citing several appeals her country had made to Greece to seek an overall solution to all the existing problems between the two countries, she said Greece should give those appeals the full consideration and positive response they deserved. Although Turkey advocated the peaceful settlement of disputes, it would not accept any fait accompli. Unfortunately, the 27 September statement of the Greek Foreign Minister did not bode well. Distortion and misrepresentation of the facts, as well as unfounded allegations, would not help create a climate of confidence and friendship. In Cyprus, no noticeable developments had taken place towards a comprehensive settlement. The recent regrettable events in and around the buffer zone had been the result of a lack of dialogue and provocation. The need to reduce tensions and build up confidence on the island made the resumption of the direct talks between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders, without any preconditions, all the more urgent.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said that the General Assembly made an important promise on the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations -- to give to the twenty-first century an organization which would effectively serve the peoples in whose name it was established. "We have to keep this promise", he said. But, to do so the international community needed a clear view of contemporary circumstances and those which would unfold in the twenty-first century. The world faced new major problems, such as the clandestine arms trade, the narcotics trade, HIV/AIDS and threats to the environment that could not be defeated by weapons. Such problems crossed State boundaries and could affect whole populations. Action on such problems must be the subject of international cooperation. Multilateral cooperation could and did take many forms, but the role of the United Nations was unique because of its universality and because of the Charter.

Concerning nuclear weapons, he said that a window of opportunity in arms control and disarmament was open, but if not taken soon, it would close. Two tasks were fundamental. First was building and strengthening international institutions and instruments. Second, new thinking must be developed in arms control and disarmament, so as to push the international agenda forward in constructive and realistic ways. The CTBT, he noted, was the immediate priority, and its adoption by the General Assembly and its opening on 24 September were major milestones for the international community.

Mr. Downer stressed that any discussion of arms control and disarmament which failed to address the question of land-mines would be "sadly incomplete". The "hideous and diabolically inexpensive weapons" must be banned, and demining must proceed at a far faster rate than has been the case in the past. To that end, Australia recently committed $12 million to practical demining initiatives in the war-ravaged fields within its own region.

On Security Council reform, he said three issues were to be tackled: expansion; transparency; and the effectiveness of sanctions regimes. Australia believed that an expansion up to a total Council membership of 25 States would be reasonable. Regarding the permanent/non-permanent membership issue, Australia supported the claims of Japan and Germany to permanent membership, the least the United Nations could do to acknowledge their major-Power status and the financial contributions they were making to the Organization. He also advocated permanent seats for under-represented regions. His country was also committed to improving the way in which the Security Council interacted with non-members, so that its activities became more responsive to the United Nations as a whole, and to bringing about improvements in the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions.

Turning to the issue of development, he noted that it was much more than just an issue of economic growth. Nations also needed internal stability, sound environmental management, a vigorous civil society and a lively democracy. In that respect, it is in Africa that the development challenges were most stark. The world must not allow disease, poverty, war and underdevelopment to become entrenched in the 53 nations -- almost one third of the United Nations Member States -- in the African continent.

Much work still needed to be done to bring about greater efficiency and effectiveness in the United Nations and its specialized agencies. It was also crucial that the financial situation be repaired. Australia believed that all Member States should pay their contributions in full and on time, and welcomed recent moves by some countries to pay their arrears. Australia would like to see the current minimum contribution reduced or removed, as it was too high for many countries with small economies.

HABIB BEN YAHIA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, said that his country supported the renewal of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's mandate and stressed the importance of continuing the reform process of the United Nations.

The international community had welcomed with enthusiasm the start of the peace process in the Middle East, which seemed finally on the right track, he continued. However, the agenda of the new Israeli Government "came to dash the hopes of the peoples of the region for life in peace and security", blocking the peace process on all tracks. Israeli pressures, harassment and provocations had been aimed at preventing the Palestinian people from achieving their legitimate rights to self-determination and to the creation of their own independent state. The recent bloody events confirmed Tunisia's call for firm international action to bring the Israeli Government to abide by the agreements concluded with the Palestinian Authority and to comply with international legality regarding the settlement of the Palestinian question.

His Government was convinced that the time had come to lift the embargo on Libya, "especially after the numerous positive initiatives" undertaken by that country, the League of Arab States and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The measure would bring an end to the suffering of the Libyan people. He also supported the endeavours of the United Arab Emirates to recover through peaceful means the islands of Big Tomb, Small Tomb and Abou Moussa. He also reiterated Tunisia's commitment to United Nations peace-keeping operations and declared its readiness to participate in the United Nations standing forces.

Speaking on globalization, the Foreign Minister stated that the phenomenon had a negative impact on the economies of numerous developing countries that had not been able to adapt their structures to the new realities. He also stressed the need to alleviate the debt burden of middle income countries, as it constituted the main obstacle to the achievement of a regular development pattern.

Reform of the United Nations should be implemented on common criteria based on transparency and democracy in international relations and excluding all double standard practices. Tunisia also attached the utmost importance to the restructuring of the Security Council. That restructuring should take into consideration the need for an equitable geographical representation which acknowledged the new geopolitical reality in the world. Tunisia supported Japan and Germany as new permanent members and reaffirmed Africa's right to at least two permanent seats in the Security Council, which would rotate among all African States. In that regard, Tunisia supported the initiatives taken by Italy.

J. DELMER URBIZO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Honduras, told the Assembly that international conflict should be resolved through diplomatic channels. In the Americas, Haiti was an example of the concerted action and political will of the international community through the United Nations. Honduras also supported the peace accords between the Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG).

Speaking of the role of Honduras in the Security Council, the Foreign Minister said his country's work there had maintained the necessary balance and equanimity in the various issues that had come up, including humanitarian operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and peace-keeping operations in Haiti, Angola and Liberia. Honduras re-assumed the presidency tomorrow (1 October) and would work in the same spirit.

He said Central America today sought to integrate into the world, so as to accelerate its own development. There had been a series of summit meetings in the region, on democratization and on economic issues. The System of Central American Integration (SICA) had been formed as a result, and had obtained permanent observer status at the United Nations. The region now pursued an agenda of sustainable development.

Reform within the United Nations should aim for a further democratization of the system's main organs, he continued. An increase in the number of seats on the Security Council, both permanent and non-permanent, should take place based on the principle of equal State sovereignty, as well as a more equitable geographical representation.

The General Assembly should take over the roles played by the recent costly world conferences. At the same time, the Assembly's traditional agenda should be trimmed and time limits imposed on interventions. Likewise, the structure of the committees and other auxiliary bodies should be revised so as to avoid duplication of issues.

He said Honduras had signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and asked the international community to assist countries affected by anti-personnel land-mines. Several Central American countries should be helped in the task of removing those devices. Honduras called for a total ban on land-mines.

He said his country wished to state once more its interest in Taiwan being admitted as a member of the United Nations. Taiwan had consolidated its democracy this year by holding direct elections; the country respected human rights and had one of the most powerful economies of the planet. Honduras urged the United Nations to form a working group to study the question. It also supported the idea of a special General Assembly session in 1998 to strengthen international strategy against drug trafficking.

GIDEON KAYINAMURA (Rwanda) said many speakers during the general debate had, perhaps inadvertently, described the events in Rwanda during 1994 as a conflict, a crisis or in terms of gross violations of human rights. What occurred was not a tribal or ethnic conflict, he said; there was genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Between April and July of that year, more than 1 million Rwandans were butchered in a systematic and planned manner. The devastating effects of the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide were still present, and the perpetrators of the genocide were still at large in some capitals. The political leadership responsible for the genocide and their army and militia were in military and refugee camps, in walking distance to the Rwanda-Zaire border. Recently, those elements had stepped up infiltrations into Rwanda with the purpose of killing the witnesses of the genocide. The international community must exert pressure on Zaire to relocate the refugees away from the border.

He said the pulling-out of the United Nations peace-keepers in April 1994, at the height of the genocidal executions, had not been helpful. That event pointed to the need for the United Nations to support Rwanda in its efforts to rebuild its economy and infrastructure.

Rwanda's Government of National Unity had made strides to return the country to normalcy, he added. Gradually, but steadily, security had been restored; the judiciary, legislature and economy were being rehabilitated. More than 2.2 million refugees had returned to Rwanda, with all refugees who had fled to Burundi being resettled in their communes. Those achievements had been made despite Rwanda's crippling debt burden which had hindered the Government's efforts to reconstruct its socio-economic infrastructure. Rwanda urged the international community to immediately cancel Rwanda's debt.

He said regional instability had been exacerbated by the systematic persecution of the Kinyarwanda-speaking Zairians. In the North Kivu region, Zairians of Rwandese culture were being massacred and others forced to flee to Rwanda and Uganda. That persecution was spreading to the South Kivu region, with people being brutally attacked by Zairian forces and former Rwanda government soldiers and militia elements known as the interahamwe. The international community must prevail on the Zairian Government to stop the systematic ethnic cleansing occurring in eastern Zaire.

Regional stability was possible; regional leaders had already agreed to a solemn declaration on the modalities for solving regional problems, he said. What was lacking was determination to implement the commitments voluntarily entered into.

TRIVIMI VELLISTE (Estonia) said peace-keeping continued to be one of the most important activities of the Organization. A new challenge for United Nations peace-keepers was in dealing with internal conflicts. In that regard, he reiterated that regional peace-keeping efforts under the auspices of the United Nations must remain under stringent United Nations control. Estonia was continuing to take part in peace-keeping operations. It would increase its contribution to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) by offering a company for deployment.

He said failure to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms was a major cause of conflict. Despite the hardships of institutional and economic transition, his country had been able to make democracy a way of life. Estonia continued to place particular importance upon the work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala Lasso, the Centre for Human Rights and the United Nations human rights machinery in general. That machinery should rely on impartial reporting and should disregard politically motivated allegations.

For that reason, he said Estonia listed among its priorities issues regarding indigenous peoples and human rights. It was essential to secure adequate financing for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Centre for Human Rights. Also, in order to avoid duplication and make effective use of resources, the Organization's human rights machinery should rely on the extensive expertise of regional organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe.

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