October 18, 2018

Secretary-General’s Closing Remarks at the Launch of the Union for the Mediterranean

Monsieur le President,

Mesdames et Messieurs, Chefs d’Etat et de Gouvernement,

Nous avons eu aujourd’hui un debat tres constructif et stimulant, qui a mis en lumiere le role singulier joue par la Mediterranee – sur les plans strategique, historique, culturel, commercial et politique.

Je suis convaincu que ce role singulier peut insuffler en nous le dynamisme voulu pour faire avancer les objectifs politiques fondamentaux que sont l’avenement d’une paix juste, durable et globale au Moyen-Orient; la fin de l’occupation qui a commence en 1967; la creation d’un Etat palestinien souverain, viable, d’un seul tenant et democratique; le reglement des problemes lies au volet israelo-syrien; et la poursuite des efforts en vue de la consolidation de la stabilite et de la souverainete du Liban.

The coming months will prove crucial on all these fronts. In fact, I believe several strands now exist which, if pursued with determination, can prove mutually reinforcing and carry the peace process forward. In this context, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations launched in Annapolis remain especially critical. I commend the commitment of the parties to these talks, which are now entering their crucial phase.

There has also been welcome improvement in the conditions in the West Bank. More progress is urgently required: on an Israeli settlement freeze, on easing of closures, on donor support for the budget of the Palestinian Authority, and on continued security efforts by the Palestinian Authority.

Similarly, Gaza and southern Israel are enjoying a welcome and desperately needed calm due to Egypt’s efforts. But this truce is tenuous and the humanitarian conditions in Gaza remain unacceptable. It is therefore crucial that the parties also increase the flow of supplies from Israel into Gaza.

We must simultaneously work towards an orderly and sustainable reopening of all border crossings under the legitimate Palestinian Authority. President Abbas has called for Palestinian dialogue, supported by the Arab League, to negotiate the implementation of the Yemeni initiative. His careful efforts to prepare a process for the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority need our support.

The opening of indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria with Turkish facilitation represents another important yet fragile development. These talks must now be actively encouraged and supported by the entire international community.

I also welcome President Assad’s intention to initiate diplomatic relations with Lebanon.I encourage him to do so as soon as possible. The formation of a national unity Government was just announced on 11 July. This announcement builds on the agreement reached earlier in Doha with the support of Qatar and the League of Arab States.

I am also hopeful that these positive developments can help in the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, and lead to a longer-term political solution between Lebanon and Israel. But for now, I welcome the commitment of Lebanon and Israel to the cessation of hostilities that has brought an important and much needed stability to the south of Lebanon.

Finally, there is also welcome news to report from Cyprus where President Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Mr. Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader, have made significant and courageous overtures in recent months. The UN strongly supports their efforts, and there is great expectation across the international community that a settlement will be reached. I am fully committed to helping the two sides move forward smoothly and expeditiously to the formal talks.


These developments – between Israel and Palestine, Syria and Israel, or within Lebanon and Cyprus – are all extremely welcome. But they remain extremely fragile. As countries of the region, as well as friends and neighbors of all the parties, you all need to play and an active role in these quests for peace.

Fortunately, the new Union for the Mediterranean is well timed to help you all shoulder this collective responsibility. But this initiative also has the potential to deliver on a much wider agenda. I believe this far-reaching multilateral initiative can work to address the complex trans-border issues the region faces, and provide a framework for the pooling of resources and the development of collective action.

And I hope the Union will become a vibrant partner of the entire United Nations family, across the range of the Union’s areas of focus — from energy and environment to security cooperation, education and science.

UN’s Funds, Programmes and Agencies have expertise in all these areas and stand ready to support your efforts.

Je voudrais conclure par un mot de remerciement. Comme vous le savez, la region de la Mediterranee a ete de longue date un point d’ancrage de l’action de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies. Je suis reconnaissant a tous les gouvernements ici representes qui appuient ces efforts et y contribuent.

Et j’eprouve une profonde fierte a l’idee que plusieurs de nos soldats de la paix participeront, demain sur les Champs-Elysees, au defile du 14 juillet.

Monsieur le President, Mesdames et Messieurs,

Je vous remercie tous d’avoir permis cet echange de vues interessant et exaltant et je me joins a vous pour saluer le lancement de l’Union pour la Mediterranee.


Je vous remercie.