3 September 1997

Press Release


19970903 Secretary-General Kofi Annan ended his summer holiday with an unofficial visit to Italy to attend the Venice Film Festival. Late in the day on Sunday 31 August he travelled to Denmark to begin a two-day official visit.

The question of United Nations reform dominated talks held by the Secretary-General in Denmark. In his official discussions with the Danish Government, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and Minister for Development and Cooperation strongly backed the Secretary-General's reform package and pledged to exert all their efforts, particularly with the European Union and at the forthcoming General Assembly session to facilitate the smooth passage of the Secretary-General's reform proposals.

In talks with Prime Minster Poul Nyrup Rasmussen on the first morning of his visit in Copenhagen, the Secretary-General also discussed regional conflicts, particularly the situation in Bosnia and the question of the withdrawal of the Stabilization Force (SFOR). Environmental issues, including the Danish initiative to implement Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in the Baltic area, were also discussed.

With Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen, the Secretary-General discussed missions carried out jointly by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), particularly in Tajikistan and Georgia. The two men also discussed the situation in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the role of the two organizations in the region.

The Secretary-General met later with the Minister for Development and Cooperation, Poul Nielsen, with whom he discussed the follow-up to the 1995 World Summit for Social Development and the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.

The Secretary-General then attended a luncheon hosted by the Foreign Minister at which a representative of the Home Rule Government of Greenland invited the Secretary-General to attend a special assembly scheduled for 1998 on the question of indigenous people.

Later on that same day, 1 September, the Secretary-General visited the recently opened United Nations House and spoke to the Organization's staff in Copenhagen. At a meeting with Members of the Danish Parliament (Folketing) the Speaker of the Danish Parliament, Erling Olsen, pledged his support to the reform initiatives of the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General then gave a lecture organized by the Danish Foreign Policy Institute and the United Nations Association of Denmark and answered questions from the audience for over an hour. (See Press Release SG/SM/6310 of 2 September.)

On the evening of the first day of his official visit, the Secretary- General and Mrs. Annan attended a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Rasmussen and Ms. Lone Dybkjaer.

The second day of his official visit to Denmark was marked by a series of meetings and events surrounding the opening of the Planning Element of the Multinational United Nations Stand-by Forces High-readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG). In that connection, the Secretary-General had a breakfast meeting with 10 Defence Ministers and Secretaries of State attending the official opening and hosted by the Danish Minister of Defence, Hans Haekkerup. He then gave an address to participants of the "Nordic-UN Senior Peace-keeping Management Seminar" (see Press Release SG/SM/6312 of 2 September) following which he travelled some 30 kilometres north of Copenhagen to Hoevelte military barracks to officially open SHIRBRIG. (The establishment of SHIRBRIG is a response of a group of nations to a statement of the President of the Security Council in 1995 where he invited Member States to suggest ways and means of improving the United Nations capacity for rapid deployment.)

The Secretary-General made a statement at the ceremony (see Press Release SG/SM/6311 of 2 September), which was held in the presence of the Danish military establishment as well as the 12 nations participating in SHIRBRIG (Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden). The SHIRBRIG is expected to be fully operational in 1999.

Before leaving Copenhagen for Oslo, Norway, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan attended a luncheon hosted by Queen Margrethe II at Amalienborg Palace.

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For information media. Not an official record.