25 September 1998

Press Release


19980925 Armenia's President says Negotiations with Azerbaijan at Impasse, Seven Foreign Ministers Address Assembly in continued General Debate

Despite the pronounced will of the international community and the willingness of the Greek Cypriot side to negotiate in good faith, there had been no solution to the problem of Cyprus, the President of that country, Glafcos Clerides, told the General Assembly this morning.

Speaking as the Assembly continued its general debate, he said the failure was due to the non-implementation and flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by Turkey. That non-implementation had tarnished the image of the United Nations. His hope for the future was that all Cypriots would have security in their homes and communities, would pursue their livelihoods free of economic restrictions and the fear of instability, and all Cypriot children would know their distinct cultural and religious heritage without fear of domination.

Also addressing an area of regional tension, the President of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, said that the blockade imposed on his country by Turkey and Azerbaijan was a serious obstacle to regional cooperation and, further, that negotiations with Azerbaijan over Nogorno-Karabakh were currently at an impasse. The international community must exert maximum effort to overcome the obstacles to those negotiations, which were largely due to the unclear status of Nogorno-Karabakh as a party to the negotiations and Azerbaijan's refusal to negotiate with its elected leadership.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, Hong Soon-Young, said that the Government of President Kim Dae-Jung was the first opposition party that had acceded to power in the 50-year constitutional history of his country that had acceded to power. Also, the Government's

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"Sunshine Policy", the cornerstone of a constructive engagement policy towards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, was fostering a relationship that followed three principles: no tolerance of any military provocation by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; no attempts by his Government to absorb the north; and the active promotion of inter-Korean reconciliation, exchange and cooperation.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Amre Moussa, said "an excessive imposition of sanctions or perpetuating them without acceptable reason or a clear time frame will erode their credibility and create a sanctions fatigue". The lifting of sanctions must be run into its natural end in accordance with Security Council resolutions. He hoped the Lockerbie situation would be resolved and the sanctions imposed on Libya lifted, in light of the significant progress towards the trial of the two suspects and establishment of the truth.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Lloyd Axworthy, said small arms and light military weapons had become the tools of choice for drug smugglers, terrorists and criminals. Their impact on everyone was direct and devastating. His country was pursuing a three-pronged approach to the problem of dealing with the illicit trade, trafficking and proliferation of small arms. The drug trade also affected governance, undermined human rights and promoted cross-border conflicts. Canada had proposed a Foreign Ministers' dialogue group in the Americas, to provide guidance and generate ideas to help curtail its impact.

The Foreign Ministers of New Zealand, Luxembourg, Viet Nam and Estonia also spoke.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue its general debate.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate. Scheduled speakers are: Robert Kocharian, President of Armenia; Glafcos Clerides, President of Cyprus; Donald Charles McKinnon, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand; Hong Soon-young, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea; Amre Moussa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt; Jacques Poos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Cooperation of Luxembourg; Lloyd Axworthy, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; and Nguyen Manh Cam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam.


ROBERT KOCHARIAN, President of the Republic of Armenia, said that 1998 had been a year of both setbacks and strides forward in the quest for peace and security. Despite the fact that great progress had been made towards the settlement of the conflict in Northern Ireland -- one of the longest and most intractable conflicts -- wars, armed conflicts, acts of terrorism and other forms of violence had diminished international stability.

He was deeply concerned about the possible consequences of the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan this year and believed that the coming into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would a substantial contribution to world security. His Government also supported drafting an agreement on prohibiting the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices.

He unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism and called for accession of the maximum number of countries to universal conventions against that threat. He also supported the Russian draft of a United Nations convention for combating acts of nuclear terrorism and the holding in the year 2000 of the tenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders.

Speaking about the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, he said that it had been included in the General Assembly agenda upon presentation by Armenia and five other Member States. The recent condemnation by several parliaments of the genocide of Armenians committed at the beginning of the century in the Ottoman Empire was evidence of an increased understanding of the necessity to combat that evil.

His country attached special significance to regional cooperation in the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) or the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation, he continued. However, the blockade imposed on Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan was a serious obstacle to such cooperation. The region's vast potential could not be fully utilized if attempts were made to isolate one of its constituents.

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Another factor of concern for stability in the region was the gross violation by Azerbaijan of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, he said. Despite the potential threat to its security, his country had clearly renounced the possibility of developing weapons of mass destruction and adhered to the principles of non-proliferation and control over destabilizing accumulation of conventional arms. His country was also committed to the cease- fire established in the zone of the Karabakh conflict.

Unfortunately, at present, the negotiation process on that area was at an impasse, he said. The main reason for that was an unclear definition of the status of Nogorno-Karabakh as a party to negotiations. Azerbaijan's refusal to directly negotiate with the elected leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh and insistence on preconditions regarding the future negotiated status of that area, were also hindering the negotiation process. Given the specifics of the conflict, the international community must exert maximum efforts to overcome those obstacles, he said. Unconventional approaches based on the principle of equal legal rights for both parties of the conflict, ending the enclave status of Nagorno-Karabakh and providing guarantees of international security for its population, were also important.

GLAFCOS CLERIDES, President of Cyprus, said the United Nations had a special role to play in the promotion of the well-being of small States. In that context, Cyprus had suffered for more than 24 years from the grave consequences of the Turkish invasion and the continuing occupation of more than one-third of its territory. Despite the pronounced will of the international community through numerous resolutions and the willingness of the Greek Cypriot side to negotiate in good faith, there had been no solution to the Cyprus problem. The reason was due to the non-implementation and flagrant violation of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by Turkey.

Those Council and Assembly resolutions, which called for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus and the non-recognition of the Turkish Cypriot breakaway entity, had been violated by Turkey, he continued. Turkey was the only State that recognized the Turkish Cypriot secessionist entity and sustained it financially and militarily. Those same resolutions had called for the speedy withdrawal of all foreign armed forces and personnel from Cyprus, but not only had they not been withdrawn, they had been increased and upgraded. The previous Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, had described in his report to the Security Council the occupied part of Cyprus as one of the most militarized areas in the world.

Further, Turkey had violated other provisions of United Nations resolutions by changing the demographic composition of the population of Cyprus, importing to Cyprus thousands of illegal settlers from Turkey, who had usurped the properties of the refugees, he said. The recent demand of the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a confederation solution violated all United Nations resolutions, which called for a bizonal-bicommunal federation,

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with a single sovereignty. The confederation solution was aimed at creating, under the guise of a Turkish Cypriot Republic, a Turkish colony in Cyprus or a Turkish protectorate.

The non-implementation of United Nations resolutions on Cyprus had tarnished the image of the Organization, he said. The international community should not allow one State to violate its expressed will for so long. His hope for the future was for all Cypriots to have security in their homes and communities and to be able to pursue their livelihoods free of economic restrictions and the fear of instability. He hoped all Cypriot children would know their distinct cultural and religious heritage and be able to carry their identity and political rights into the future without fear of domination from any quarter.

He said the solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bicommunal- bizonal federation required a partnership of the two communities, providing a maximum degree of internal self-administration to the two constituent cantons, provinces or States, and also providing them with the same rights, powers and functions. The constitution must also provide for effective participation of the constituent parts in the federal government and secure all fundamental human rights and freedoms for the citizens of the federation. Above all, it must safeguard the single sovereignty, indivisibility and unity of the bicommunal-bizonal federation.

He said that Turkish and Greek Cypriots both wanted the same things: peace; prosperity; stability; and physical, political, economic and cultural security. The older generation of both communities must close the current sad chapter in the history of Cyprus with an agreement that would allow future generations to realize the fruits of true partnership, based on mutual respect and political understanding. While the Turkish invasion and occupation cannot be reconciled, he was genuinely determined to renew and invigorate bicommunal confidence, trust, cooperation and interaction with the Turkish Cypriot community.

Tension in Cyprus had escalated due to the massive presence of the Turkish occupation forces in the north, their continuous strengthening and upgrading and the need of Cyprus to strengthen its defence, he said. In the face of continuous threats against Cyprus by the vastly superior military might of Turkey, whose ultimate aim was to keep the island a perpetual hostage, to destroy its sovereignty and reduce it to a Turkish protectorate, the strong support of United Nations members was of paramount importance. He agreed to the resumption of a sustained process of direct negotiations on the basis of Security Council resolutions and further agreed to avoid any action that might increase tension and jeopardize the negotiating process.

DON MCKINNON, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, said the world community's expectations of what could be achieved through the United Nations sometimes exceeded Member States' own political will to

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deliver. However, when a longer view was taken, it was clear that neither euphoria nor cynicism was the appropriate reaction.

United Nations peacekeeping had been marked by some successes and, regrettably, some failures. Future peacekeeping mandates must reflect the lessons learned. Today, fewer troops were wearing the blue beret and troop contributing countries did not receive timely reimbursement. The capacity of the United Nations could not be restricted by budgetary uncertainty. Referring to the island of Bougainville, he said there had been a regional response to a regional problem. The island, which had been ravaged by civil war for nine years, had now enjoyed peace for the past 12 months. He welcomed the United Nations decision to set up a small political office on the island.

He agreed with the Secretary-General's assessment that the current financial turmoil was not just financial or economic or social or political -- rather, it was all those things at once. He endorsed the conclusion that the crisis had to be addressed on all those fronts. In addition, he looked forward to continuing the dialogue on financing for development. Responses must reflect the world of today, not stay fixed in the patterns of earlier times. The divide between North and South must be addressed and development must be restored to its proper place in global economic strategy.

Reform of the Security Council should correct the North-South imbalance, he said. Also, New Zealand was open to new ideas on how groupings could be reorganized to create a more equitable distribution of electoral opportunities and recognize modern political and economic linkages.

HONG SOON-YOUNG, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea, told the Assembly that the Government of President Kim Dae-Jung carried a special significance for the Korean people, because it marked the first time in history that an opposition party had acceded to power in the 50-year constitutional history of Korea. His country was currently endeavouring to ensure the harmonious development of democracy and a free market economy. He was well aware that the world was watching to see if and how his Government could accomplish such a difficult task. To further the country's goals, the President had launched the "Second Nation Building" plan to define the nation's efforts in this regard.

Economic matters were not his country's only immediate concerns, he said. Referring to his Government's "Sunshine Policy", he said that it was the cornerstone of a constructive engagement policy towards the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). Changing the nature of that relationship required restoring and cultivating mutual trust between the two countries. To that end, the President had announced, immediately after his inauguration, that three principles be followed: no tolerance of any military provocation by North Korea; no attempts on his Government's part to absorb the North; and the active promotion of inter-Korean reconciliation, exchange and cooperation.

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To achieve those goals, his Government was encouraging private sector initiatives and cooperation with North Korea, he stated. It also remained committed to actively assisting the North overcome its food shortages and economic difficulties. Inter-Korean consultations, with the United Nations acting as a facilitator, were indispensable for North Korea's economic recovery.

The DPRK, he said, had reacted passively or even negatively to the proposals of the Republic of Korea's President, made in August, to establish a permanent inter-Korean dialogue arrangement headed by ministerial or vice-ministerial officials, he said. The DPRK had also rejected the proposal of his Government to send an envoy to Pyongyang to establish a workable system of peaceful coexistence. Citing the incidents of the DPRK's submarine infiltration into South Korean territorial waters in June and the launching of a rocket into the west Pacific Ocean in late August without any prior warning, he said his Government deplored those acts of provocation. In spite of those serious threats to his country's security, his Government would uphold its engagement policy with its neighbour. He stressed the hope that the leadership of the DPRK would put aside its defiance and respond positively to his Government's calls for dialogue and collaboration.

Addressing the economy, he said that his Government was trying to turn the current financial crisis into an opportunity to reform and revitalize its economy. His country's economic difficulties had been triggered in part by a loose application of the rule of accountability in the corporate and financial sector. His Government was taking bold and decisive steps towards a comprehensive structural reform based on democracy and market principles. When the process was complete, the Republic of Korea would be a more free and open society. The international community, he continued, would be well-advised to develop a common strategy to maximize the potential benefits of market liberalization and globalization. Towards that end, his Government welcomed the Organization's initiatives to strengthen cooperation with the Bretton Woods system. Further, he said the international community should pay more attention to ways to create sustainable development in the least developed countries.

AMRE MOUSSA, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said the hand of terrorism had struck many places around the world in the past years, including Kenya, Tanzania and Ireland. He said this phenomenon was intolerable, and reiterated the call made by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to convene an international summit, under the auspices of the United Nations, to deal with terrorism -- legally, politically, economically and technologically.

Discussing the issue of disarmament, he said recent developments had proven the failures of the non-proliferation regime in its current form and called for a need to take urgent steps to strengthen the regime and increase its efficiency through achieving its universality and avoiding a policy of double standards. Otherwise, he said, "we will end up with a state of

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widespread uncertainty, deep lack of confidence, and an arms race that would in turn lead to the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons". Based on that premise, Egypt had consistently called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

He stressed the importance of taking Member States' views into account on the implementation of United Nations reform policies, and reaffirmed the pivotal role of the General Assembly in the decision-making process. Particular attention should be paid to needed changes in the Security Council, which included: the expansion of membership within an integrated framework to no less than eleven members, and the allocation of a number of permanent seats for developing countries, with strict observance of the principles of equitable geographical distribution and equality of States. In addition, Egypt was committed to the allocation of five non-permanent seats and two permanent seats for the African continent, to be rotated in accordance with agreed criteria.

He also discussed the question of sanctions imposed by the Security Council, saying "an excessive imposition of sanctions or perpetuating them without acceptable reason or a clear time-frame will erode their credibility and create a sanctions fatigue". The lifting of sanctions must be run to its natural end, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, he added. Egypt also wished to express its satisfaction with the recent development of the Lockerbie situation, namely the significant progress made towards the trial of the two suspects, and establishing the truth. He hoped the whole matter would be resolved, the sanctions imposed on Libya lifted, and a long-overdue end to a phase of tension realized.

The peace process in the Middle East was about to collapse, he noted. The situation was indeed grave, not only because of the deadlock it had reached, but also because the roots of the problem went very deep. Egypt rejected the negative change in Israeli policy, which used security considerations to justify occupation. Regrettably, it had become evident that the Israeli Government was reneging on its commitments under Security Council resolutions, the Madrid framework, and the agreement reached in Oslo. Moreover, Israel must reconsider its position and policy which could only be achieved when a comprehensive package was reached. That package would include: complete withdrawal from the territories of Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza; the establishment of a Palestinian State; and an agreement on the final status of Jerusalem and the fate of the Palestinian refugees.

"Today, we have before us two urgent and serious questions on the African continent", he said. Regarding the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Egypt strongly supported mediation efforts led by the Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to arrive at a peaceful solution. The second question was the situation in and around the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Egypt stressed the importance of preserving the unity and territorial

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integrity of the Democratic Republic, and the establishment of positive relations between it and its neighbours in a larger framework, encompassing the cessation of military operations and the cessation of interference in its internal affairs.

JACQUES F.POOS, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Cooperation for Luxembourg, said with respect to its mandate to preserve peace and international security, the United Nations often questioned whether it had the means to protect the general interests as seen by the people. Each time the Organization seemed powerless or slow to act, the weakest among society were affected. The goal of the international community was to permanently assure the values to which the United Nations adhered.

The international community, he said, must not ignore the recent nuclear arms tests conducted in South Asia. Those actions were a threat to regional peace and security and jeopardized the non-nuclear proliferation regime. His Government, he continued, supported the Organization's efforts to set up a permanent structure of standby forces for rapid intervention each time the Security Council judged it necessary to guarantee international peace and security. Also, the recent tragic discussions of Iraq's disarmament, given the Secretary General's visit to Baghdad, called into question the Organization's credibility. The Security Council should take steps to ensure the implementation of its decisions taken in that matter.

He fully supported the Organization's efforts to develop methods of conflict prevention, and believed more regional and sub-regional initiatives would advance the process. Even though this development was desirable, he said, it must be remembered that the United Nations Charter conferred the main responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security on the Security Council, which body must fully assume its role.

He applauded the Ottawa Conference on the prohibition of anti-personnel landmines and said that it would save many lives. Their alleged new deployment in Angola and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia was terrifying and should be vigorously condemned. Turning to Kosovo, he said the parties involved there were following a path to destruction. A new status for Kosovo was needed. The conflict required a political solution that could be guided by the international community. Cohesion between Europe, the United States and the Russian Federation should encourage the parties of the conflict region to confront their future in a more rational manner. He called for the conviction of perpetrators of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was up to the Court to ensure that the trend continued.

Five years after the Oslo accords, the international community must note the stalemate in the Middle East, he warned. The philosophy of the refusal to accept "Land for Peace" wiped out the chance for peace, he said. Dialogue among the parties must be revived, as there was no alternative to peace. That concept needed to be applied to Africa as well. In no case should leaders

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sense that they had no choice but to resort to violence. The recent debate at the ministerial level in the Security Council had been very helpful. He said that the while the future of Africa depended on the people of that continent, the international community must be involved. It had a responsibility, as well, to put an end to the culture of impunity concerning terrorism.

Noting that entire regions and subcontinents were suffering from extreme poverty, he added that generations of young people had no prospect of employment and social categories were cut-off from education and health care. Those facts reflected a grave imbalance in the world. The recent United Nations conference on youth in Lisbon emphasized the need to provide employment and to educate youth about responsibility given them in a democratic civic education. Luxembourg had undertaken a long-term effort to provide development funds and would increase its official development assistance. It was fifth in donor assistance in the struggle against poverty.

Concerning United Nations objectives, he supported safeguarding the world's natural resources. Last year's Special Session and the Rio Conference had defined a world partnership for development which revealed that economic development could not be separated from social development. He said it was essential to accelerate Agenda 21, the program of action developed at Rio. The Kyoto Conference goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28 per cent, based on 1990, should be meet by the year 2000. Further, he welcomed the fact that human rights instruments were more specifically detailed. The Rome Conference establishing an International Criminal Court represented a decisive turning point at the turn of the century, but only if the Court was provided with new credibility.

LLOYD AXWORTHY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said that last week, Burkina Faso had deposited the fortieth ratification of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti- Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, triggering the Convention's entry into force. Canada welcomed the offer by Mozambique to host the first meeting of the States Parties to the Convention early next year. He urged those who had not already done so to sign and ratify the Convention. Canada had allocated $100 million to support efforts to rid the world of those cruel weapons.

Small arms and light weapons -- cheap; easy to transport, smuggle or hide -- had become the tools of choice for drug smugglers, terrorists and criminals, he said. Canada was pursuing a three-pronged approach to the problem dealing with the illicit trade, drug trafficking and small arms proliferation. The drug trade affected governance, undermined human rights and promoted cross-border conflicts. Canada had proposed convening a ministerial-level meeting in the Americas, to generate means of curtailing the drug trade.

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The establishment of the International Criminal Court was a major step towards providing new legal instruments to enhance human security, he said. The Court would deter some of the most serious violations of international humanitarian law and give new meaning and global reach to protecting the vulnerable and innocent. Isolating and stigmatizing those who committed war crimes or genocide and removing them from the community would help to end the cycles of impunity which led to retribution without due process. Those who had supported the Court should ratify its statute as soon as possible. Efforts to understand and address the concerns of those States that remained hesitant about the Court would begin within a process which would not lessen the Court's effectiveness.

There was no greater threat to security than nuclear proliferation, he said. As a participant in the Manhattan Project, Canada had the technical capability and material capacity to build its own nuclear weapons. In 1945, Canada decided to forgo the nuclear weapons option. In 1968, it joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in May had jeopardized the entire non-proliferation regime. Such acts must not be condoned or rewarded. Canada urged India and Pakistan to comply with Security Council resolution 1172 (1998), which urged them to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) without conditions; to participate purposefully in the negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty to stop the weaponization of their nuclear programmes; to impose strict export controls on nuclear technology; and to fully embrace the non-proliferation regime.

It was Canada's conviction that a dynamic, responsive and flexible United Nations system was the best way to meet the challenges of globalization, he said. To fulfil its leadership role, the Organization must be assured reliable and adequate funding. It could not be revitalized as long as Member States, particularly the most wealthy and fortunate among them, contributed less to a system from which it continued to demand more. The Security Council's legitimacy was being increasingly questioned. To remain credible, it had to review traditional interpretations of its mandate. It needed to broaden its horizons of addressing emerging threats which impacted security. The Council belonged to all Member States and could not be allowed to focus on solving the problems of one region and being indifferent to those of others. The trend of permanent members to increasingly assume more control over the Council's agenda, thereby marginalizing elected members, ran contrary to democratic principles. The Council for the next century must be more responsible, accountable and less impenetrable.

NGUYEN MANH CAM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said an integrated world economy was not possible without the active participation of developing countries. As world trade volume had increased 12-fold since the end of the Second World War, the share of developing countries in that trade had registered just a modest increase,

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while the share of the least developed countries had decreased and currently stood at 0.4 per cent of the total world trade value -- only half the figure they had recorded two decades ago. Capital moved faster than trade growth, but most of it was channelled to industrial countries. Only a limited number of developing countries had access to the remaining amount.

Developing countries had to participate in an unequal and at times immensely fierce competition, he said. That competition benefited countries with advanced technology and multinational corporations with revenues higher than the gross domestic product (GNP) of many developing countries. Additionally, the ongoing crisis was no longer an East Asia phenomenon, but was sweeping over other countries and regions like a storm, causing unpredictable losses. Cooperation among all countries must be intensified; strong economies and international financial institutions must strengthen their association with countries in crisis.

More than ever, the downward trend of official development assistance needed to be checked, he said. Those resources were of great importance, as they provided additional funding for the creation of social and economic infrastructures needed for development. He welcomed the United Nations adoption of a number of measures aimed at increasing efficiency of development cooperation, particularly the initiative on a development account financed by the reduction of United Nations administrative costs.

An atmosphere of peace, stability and cooperation reigned in South-East Asia these days, he said. A gradually enlarged Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was bringing an end to the history of a multi-segmented South-East Asia. Nevertheless, problems remained, including sovereignty disputes in the Eastern Sea [South China Sea]. On that issue, tensions could be avoided if all parties exercised self-restraint, ensured freedom of international maritime transportation and settled their disputes through negotiation.

INDREK TARAND, Permanent Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said the world economy appeared to be sliding into a deep crisis. The poorest countries were the ones that suffered most. The only credible formula for a viable world economy was the promotion of freer trade through the abolition of trade barriers and the pursuit of sustained economic and democratic reform.

There could be no stepping aside from the path of reform, he continued, and Estonia's success was proof. By 1997, Estonia had the highest economic growth rate in Europe and preliminary figures for 1998 indicated that growth continued to be strong. The fact that Estonia was one of the six countries that had begun accession negotiations with the European Union was evidence of its achievement in building a civil society and a well-functioning market economy. His country greatly appreciated the help provided by the United

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Nations, other international organizations and several bilateral donors during the difficult years of transition. Now, it was time to start paying back.

Speaking about the maintenance of international peace and security, he supported the efforts aimed at maintaining and strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to organize and effectively conduct its peacekeeping operations. As a contributor of personnel, his Government was committed to continuous participation in those operations. It also intended to continue its involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina within the framework of the International Police Task Force (IPTF), and supported the enhanced cooperation of the United Nations with regional organizations or arrangements. In particular, cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had great potential.

Among the notable achievements for the United Nations this year, he mentioned the special session on the world drug problem and adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. On the other hand, the world community had witnessed a number of vicious terrorist attacks. "It is time for everybody to understand a basic fact," he said. "Terrorism is not politics. It is not religion. It is murder." His Government deplored all terrorist activities and sympathized with all nations that had suffered from those attacks. Stronger solidarity was needed in the fight against terrorism.

In conclusion, he said that on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world was still home to gross violations of human rights. The fifty-third session of the General Assembly must make a sustained effort to address that issue and find the most effective mechanisms to identify and stop those violations. He also supported United Nations reform, saying that it should help the Organization come to grips with a changing world, as well as the principle of cost- effectiveness.

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For information media. Not an official record.