Activities of Secretary-General in Belgium, 22-25 June

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres departed New York on Tuesday, 22 June, and arrived in Brussels the following morning, Wednesday, 23 June.

He began his programme that day by meeting with the College of Commissioners of the European Union.  They discussed a wide range of topics, including climate, sustainable development and pandemic recovery.  It was agreed to hold these exchanges on a more regular basis.

In the evening, the Secretary-General addressed a Security Council session on the humanitarian situation in Syria by video teleconference.  He said that despite the United Nations’ massive response in Syria and across the region, more humanitarian access is required to reach those most in need.

That is why, he added, he has clearly expressed how important it is to maintain and expand access, including cross-border and cross-line operations.  (See Press Release SG/SM/20793.)

During remarks to the press with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Secretary-General expressed his deep gratitude and appreciation for the European Union — and the European Commission’s support for the work of the United Nations.

On Thursday, 24 June, the Secretary-General sat down with the Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander de Croo, and members of his Cabinet.  In a press encounter immediately after, Mr. Guterres emphasized the importance of the partnership between Belgium and the United Nations to address the challenges posed by the pandemic and the climate crisis, among others.

Later in the morning, at the European Parliament in Brussels, the Secretary-General delivered a solemn address during which he said that we live at a time when the strategic partnership between the European Union and the United Nations is more indispensable than ever.  (See Press Release SG/SM/20794.)

On issues such as cyberspace, pandemic recovery, climate or human rights, the Secretary-General highlighted the challenges we face and reiterated the importance of the collaboration with the European Union.

Mr. Guterres concluded his day by a session with the Heads of State and Government of the European Council.  At a press encounter with the European Council President, Charles Michel, the Secretary-General restated his appreciation for the partnership with the European Union, adding that the world’s fragilities show us how important it is to enhance international cooperation and to have a stronger and more inclusive multilateralism.

On Friday morning, the Secretary-General had a private audience with the King and Queen of the Belgians.  He thanked them for their support on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  He also thanked Queen Mathilde for her continued engagement as an SDG advocate.

Later in the morning, the Secretary-General met with the Cypriot leaders to discuss questions related to the Cyprus issue.

Finally, before departing Brussels, he joined Emperor Naruhito of Japan virtually for the fifth United Nations Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters.

For information media. Not an official record.