Press Conference by Secretary-General António Guterres at United Nations Headquarters

Following is the transcript of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ press conference, in New York today:

Secretary-General:  Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence, and welcome.  I have just returned from Pakistan, where I looked through a window into the future.  A future of permanent and ubiquitous climate chaos on an unimaginable scale:  devastating loss of life; enormous human suffering; and massive damage to infrastructure and livelihoods.

It is simply heartbreaking.  No picture can convey the scope of this catastrophe.  The flooded area is three times the size of my entire country, Portugal.  What is happening in Pakistan demonstrates the sheer inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis, and the betrayal and injustice at the heart of it.  Whether it is Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, small islands or least developed countries, the world’s most vulnerable — who did nothing to cause this crisis — are paying a horrific price for decades of intransigence by big emitters.

G20 [Group of 20] countries are responsible for 80 per cent of emissions.  They are also suffering the impact of record droughts, fires and floods, but climate action seems to be flatlining.  If one third of G20 countries was under water today, as it could be tomorrow, perhaps they would find it easier to agree on drastic cuts to emissions.  All countries — with the G20 leading the way — must boost their national emissions reduction [targets] and must limit the world’s temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Pakistan and other climate hotspots need flood-resilient infrastructure now.  And those most responsible for emissions must step up with the funds for adaptation.  At least half of all climate finance and climate resilience should go to adaptation and climate resilience, to protect people and economies.  Unless action is taken now, unless funds are disbursed now, these tragedies will simply multiply, with devastating consequences for years to come, including instability and mass migration around the world.

So, my message to world leaders gathering here is clear:  Lower the temperature — now.  Don’t flood the world today; don’t drown it tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, the General Assembly is meeting at a time of great peril.  Geostrategic divides are the widest they have been since at least the cold war.  They are paralysing the global response to the dramatic challenges we face.  Our world is blighted by war, battered by climate chaos, scarred by hate, and shamed by poverty, hunger and inequality.  Conflicts and unrest continue to rage.

The war in Ukraine is devastating a country — and dragging down the global economy.  Despite the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the agreement that we are doing everything to make it happen in reality to get Russian food and fertilizers to global markets, there is a real risk of multiple famines this year.

Global hunger began to rise before the pandemic and has never recovered.  The cost-of-living crisis is hitting the poorest people and communities hardest, with dramatic effects.  The rights of women and girls are going into reverse.  Most developing countries have no fiscal space, and no access to the financial resources needed to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and protect their people from the devastating impact of climate change.

The solidarity envisioned in the United Nations Charter is being devoured by the acids of nationalism and self-interest.  By a shocking disregard for the poorest and most vulnerable in our world.  By politicians who play to people’s worst instincts for partisan gain.  By prejudice, discrimination, misinformation and hate speech that pit people against one another.  By a global financial system that penalizes those with the least.  By fossil fuel corporations killing the planet to rake in the most.

My speech to the General Assembly will address these issues with concrete recommendations and a call to action.  As fractures deepen and trust evaporates, we need to come together around solutions.  Solutions like those that will be showcased at the Transforming Education Summit.  People need to see results in their everyday lives, or they will lose faith in their governments and institutions, and they will lose hope in the future.

This year’s general debate must be about providing hope and overcoming the divisions that are dramatically impacting the world.  That hope can indeed only come through the dialogue and debate that are the beating heart of the United Nations and that must prevail next week against all divisions.  Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Spokesman:  Thank you very much.  Before we get to our questions, just we have our very helpful interpreters, Spanish and French, in case the Secretary‑General answers in Spanish or English.  I would ask you please to…

Secretary-General:  Spanish or French.

Spokesman:  Spanish or French.  Yes, sometimes you do answer in English.  Sorry, sir.  Maybe I need the interpreter.  If I could also ask you, yes, take off your mask when you ask a question, and please limit yourself to one question so we can get…

Question:  Can we ask in Portuguese?

Spokesman:  Sorry?

Question:  Can we ask in Portuguese?

Spokesman:  You can try in Portuguese, as well.  Go ahead, Valeria, please.

Question:  Thank you.  Thank you, Secretary‑General, for this press conference.  It's always great to see you here.  So, my question is on Ukraine.  In light of the inspection of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and the state of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, can it guarantee the supply of energy, and most of all, the heating to the region for which it must guarantee?  And are you aware of the possibility of maintaining heating and all other utilities for the Ukraine people need from Zaporizhzhia to Donbas to Kharkiv since the winter is almost approaching?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  According to the information I have, electricity is being provided to the reactors for guaranteeing the cooling of those reactors, and other areas that also need the electricity supply are having it.  And we hope that it will be able to maintain it, both with generators and through the grid.  The IAEA remains on the site, and the information we have are also that, until now, there was no radiation measured that is worrying.  I believe that we have been now three days without bombing.  I hope that these kinds of attacks will cease, and I hope that the security of the nuclear power plant will be maintained entirely at all costs and fully respected by the parties.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Edie Lederer.

Question:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary‑General, a quick follow‑up on what you just said about Zaporizhzhia.  We heard that there are some talks going on between the IAEA chief, Mr. [Rafael Mariano] Grossi, and the Ukrainians and the Russians.  Is that what you believe has led to the end of shelling for the past three days?  Are these talks something the UN is encouraging, involved in, in other ways?

Secretary-General:  Those talks are taking place, and I hope they will contribute to quiet things down.  I cannot establish a cause-and-effect, but I believe that the IAEA presence is a very important deterrent and that their contacts are a very important deterrent in relation to any kind of attack against the power plant.

Question:  What I was going to ask you about was Ukraine also, whether the offensive by, the counter‑offensive by the Ukrainian Government, which has led to the recapture of a significant amount of territory, makes you believe that there might be some kind of a possibility for ending the war, or do you think that this is basically going to encourage the Ukrainians to go and recapture the rest of its territory?

Secretary-General:  Well, I don't make comments about what each of the parties might think.  I have the feeling that we are still far away from peace.  I believe that peace is essential, peace in line with the UN Charter and international law, but I would be lying if I would say that it will happen soon.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Michelle Nichols, Reuters.

Question:  Sorry, Secretary‑General, I'm not used to wearing a mask again.  Michelle Nichols from Reuters.  Thank you for the briefing.  Next week, obviously, you're going to have world leaders here in New York, but President [Vladimir V.] Putin will not be here.  When was the last time you spoke to him?  Do you plan to speak with him again before the General Assembly?  And are your conversations with him focussed on these sort of mini-deals to do with the nuclear plant, the ammonia deal that was discussed or we spoke about yesterday with Rebeca Grynspan? What's your message to him when you speak to him about a broader end to the war?

Secretary-General:  Well, the last time I spoke with President Putin was this morning.  That is the reason why I came late to the press conference.  And we had the opportunity to discuss the Black Sea Grain Initiative and its extension and expansion, possible expansion.  There are, as you know, talks in relation to the possibility of ammonia, Russian ammonia exports through the Black Sea, through the, in line with the methodology that is run by the JCC, the Joint Coordination Committee.  We have discussed the obstacles that still exist in relation to the exports of Russian food and fertilizers, and I have to say that we have now a dramatic situation in the world in fertilizers.  We are risking to have a fertilizer market crunch.  We have news from different parts of the world where the areas cultivated are much smaller than in the previous cycle, which means that we risk to have in [2023] a real lack of food.

So, to remove the obstacles that still exist in relation to the export of Russian fertilizers is absolutely essential at the present moment.  On the other hand, we discussed the questions of prisoners of war.  We discussed the fact‑finding mission.  The fact-finding mission will be able to go to the area in which the attack that victimised so many prisoners of war took place.  It will be able to go, there will be no obstacle from the Russian side for it to go through whatever way we choose, and that is a very important aspect.  On the other hand, we discussed prisoners of war in general.  We discussed Zaporizhzhia, and we discussed all the other aspects that are relevant in the present situation.  And I usually do not say what I say in phone calls.  My positions are known.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Grigory, TASS News Agency.

Question:  Thank you very much.  Secretary‑General, I just want to follow up on grain deal.  Are you going to continue to discuss the grain, the possible extension of a grain deal with Russian side due to the facts that various, almost no expert of Russian food and fertilisers yet, and so, are you going to discuss that during the high‑level week? Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Of course.  First of all, there are some exports of Russian food and fertilizers, but much lower than what is desirable and to what will be needed.  And of course, this is an area that I've been referring and I will refer clearly during the General Debate.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Natalya, ICTV, Ukraine.

Question:  Hello, Mr. [Secretary-General].  I'm Natalya Lutsenko from…

Spokesman:  Sorry.

Question:  Here.  I'm here.  Hi.  I'm Natalya Lutsenko from ICTV station Ukraine.  My question is about the prisoners of war that you have discussed.  Actually, we know that it's known that Russia is… prevents access to Ukrainian prisoners of war, so will be… are you going to discuss that with the Russian delegation here that is it possible to go to them for Ukrainian side?  And is it possible to press the country with a veto in question of prisoners?

Secretary-General:  I didn't understand.

Question:  Is it possible to press to Russia with a veto in question of prisoners, to press them?

Secretary-General:  I mean, these are areas related to what Member States might decide in relation to resolutions that they present.  What I can tell you is that I had the chance to discuss it today.  I believe that there are negotiations still taking place, and I strongly hope that the problem of prisoners of war will be entirely solved, and I strongly hope that all prisoners of war from both sides will be exchanged.

Spokesman:  Pam Falk, CBS News.

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  I'm hearing music.  It's Pamela Falk from CBS News.  You personally helped broker the Ukraine grain deal.  You spoke with President Putin.  You spoke with President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy.  You spoke with President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan.  And that helped, is helping alleviate world hunger.  Do you see this as any kind of a building block or a prototype for a peace deal?  And if not, what are the impediments for you in your capacity to try to broker a deal for peace?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Well, obviously, anything that can help rebuild confidence is useful, but it would be naive to think that we are close to the possibility of a peace deal.  My good offices are ready, but I have no illusions that, at the present moment, the chances of a peace deal are minimal, at the present moment.  So, obviously, I go on with my contacts with both sides and hope that, one day, it will be possible to move into a higher level of discussion.  Now we are discussing the exports of ammonia.  Now we are discussing aspects related to prisoners of war or to the fact-finding mission or to Zaporizhzhia.  One day, I hope it will be possible to discuss peace.

Spokesman:  Iftikhar Ali, Associated Press of Pakistan.  Your microphone, please.

Question:  Thank you very much, Steph.  Mr. Secretary‑General, at the very top of your opening statement, which was very passionate, indeed, you referred to the solidarity visit to Pakistan, which you know was deeply appreciated, and especially by the victims.  But, sir, since your visit, the situation has further deteriorated because of more rains in some of the affected areas.  This has worsened an already bad situation.  Sir, you have listed some of the steps that will… to fight the climate change, but Pakistanis need immediate… as you have already said, you see.  So, what steps, specific steps you will take in order to translate your call for support to Pakistan into tangible action?

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, we are strongly appealing to all that can help Pakistan to mobilise all their resources.  There are some countries that have provided support.  The UN is fully mobilised to support Pakistan, but Pakistan needs a massive inflow of financial resources, and my appeal to international financial institutions and my appeal to countries that have the financial capacity is not to lose one moment in providing Pakistan with the financial resources that are necessary for the gigantic tasks that are in front of us, for still avoiding the worst and, at the same time, for relief, recovery and reconstruction at the scale that, as I said, is unimaginable, and I have never seen anything similar, anywhere in the world.

Spokesman:  Ibtisam Azem.

Question:  Thank you.  My name is Ibtisam Azem from Al‑Araby al‑Jadeed newspaper.  I just, at the beginning, I want to follow up quickly on the issue of your phone call with President Putin today.  Did you bring also up the issue of a ceasefire or coming… the issue of ceasefire and coming to the negotiation table?  And my question is actually on Libya.  Finally, the Security Council agreed to your appointment of Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily as your Special Representative in Libya.  So, what is the biggest challenge you believe he's facing there?  And as his boss, what are you going to do to support his mission so that it doesn't… it's not doomed to fail as the missions of his predecessors?  Are you going to speak to powerful countries, especially when it comes to their weapon delivery, mercenaries, et cetera?  Thank you.  And…

Secretary-General:  As I said, I think a ceasefire is not in sight.  In relation to Libya, it's difficult to know what is the biggest challenge that requires action.  We must preserve, at all costs, peace, and that means preserve peace between east and west, but that also means preserve peace in relation to the recent confrontations that happened in Tripoli with militias supporting either Mr. [Abdul Hamid] Dbeibah or Mr. [Fathi] Bashagha.  So, we need, I mean, we need hostilities not to happen.  That is fundamental.  Second, we need to come to, quickly, an agreement, namely between the House of Representatives and the High Council to allow for the changes that are necessary, legal changes that are necessary, for elections to take place.  And this is absolutely essential because there is a question of legitimacy that now becomes extremely difficult to overcome.  And then the third thing is to make sure that all external actors in the context are able to fully support a process of reconciliation and the process of political developments leading to elections and to a legitimate government that everybody accepts.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Kris, CBC.

Question:  Kris Reyes with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  If I could just ask you a big‑picture question.  Earlier this year, President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, in his address to Congress, said:  "The war of the past have prompted our predecessors to create institutions that should protect us from war, but they, unfortunately, don't work.  We see it.  You see it.  We need new ones."  And I'm wondering, as we head into next week's high‑level debates, as we're seven months into this war in Ukraine, can you reflect on how effective you and the UN have been in upholding this institution's core principles and what lessons you've learned to ensure that the influence and the effectiveness of the UN remains relevant and effective, not just in conflicts in Ukraine, but the crisis that you've mentioned — climate, food insecurity and things like that? Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Well, that's exactly the question.  People tend to see Ukraine, to see the UN, looking at the Security Council.  The UN goes far beyond the Security Council.  And there was an important change in this session, or in the last session in the relations between the Security Council and the General Assembly.  Now each veto issued in the Security Council will require a meeting of the General Assembly where the veto needs to be explained and discussed.  And I think this has changed, in an important way, the balance between the two bodies.  And I believe the General Assembly has been gaining credibility in the international community, which, of course, does not fully compensate for the difficulties of the Security Council.  But the UN is, by far, the largest purveyor of humanitarian aid in the world.  UN agencies are everywhere where there is conflict, where there are natural disasters, independently of the dangers.

The UN has peacekeeping forces avoiding the worst in several parts of the world.  The UN has been very active in relation to climate change.  I believe that probably the strongest voice in relation to climate change has been the voice of the UN.  The UN has been very active, pushing for reforms of the international financial system and pushing for the need to effectively support developing countries in relation to the dramatic situation that they face at the present moment, the perfect storm that they face at the present moment.  The UN has been very active in several conflict situations, mediating.  Look at the pause that is taking place in Yemen.

And in Ukraine, the UN has been very active in trying to find concrete solutions to concrete problems in which mediation is possible, recognizing that to solve the problem in its entirety is not possible at the present moment.  So, if I believe there is a moment in which the UN is more needed than ever and if I believe that, if I believe that there is a moment, that it is this moment, and I think it is this moment, also, a moment in which you see the UN present everywhere.  Of course, the UN cannot be limited to the fact that the group of Member States in the Security Council are unable to come to an agreement in solving the worst crisis that we face, namely, the crisis in Ukraine.

Spokesman:  Benno, German Press Agency.

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General, for the briefing.  Benno Schwinghammer from the German Press Agency.  I have one follow‑up to the grain deal and one actual question about Libya.  So, it was one week ago, roughly, that Vladimir Putin threatened to let the grain deal collapse.  Now you talked with him this morning.  Did he threaten again to close down the Black Sea corridor?

Secretary-General:  No, I believe that there is a very important dialogue between the UN and the Russian Federation, between the UN and Ukraine.  And we are looking, not only at maintaining the grain deal, but expanding it, namely, in relation to, just to give an example, the possibility of having ammonia exports through the same channel from the Russian Federation, and the possibility of an extension in time of the grain deal.  All this has been discussed, and I am hopeful that we will be able to maintain a very important contribution to the dramatic situation of food security in the world and, as I mentioned, that if we are able and we are totally committed to it to remove the obstacles that still exist in relation to the Russian exports of fertilizers, that we will be able to normalise the fertilizer market and allow for the cultivation for next year to take place at the usual levels.

Question:  Now my question about Libya.  Where the UN's track record is quite good in terms of Ukraine, there are other conflicts which kind of, where progress kind of slipped out of your hands, for example, Libya.  How important is it now to revive the Berlin process?  If you talk with Chancellor [Olaf] Scholz, the German Chancellor Scholz, next week, will you talk with him about gathering people again and conduct a new conference?

Secretary-General:  [Inaudible] important and the Germany Minister for Foreign Affairs already indicated that Germany would be thinking about that possibility, and I strongly encourage that.  I do believe that the Berlin process was the most useful international instrument that we had to avoid the worst.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to reach a full solution, but it was possible to avoid the worst.

Spokesman:  Amelie, Agence France‑Presse.

Question:  I'm Amelie Bottollier-Depois from AFP news agency.  You talked several times about the Black Sea Grain Initiative, who helped, I mean which helped ease the pressure on the food market.  But, with winter coming, there's an energy crisis also looming for this winter in the next few months in many countries in the world.  So, what could the UN, what could you do in this front?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  It is much more difficult to address the energy questions than to address the food security questions.  In the energy questions, we have a combination of high interests ‑ Member States' interests, companies' interests ‑ that make progress much more difficult because those interests are largely contradictory.  And I have to say that I find it absolutely unacceptable to see that, when people are suffering so much in different parts of the world and, namely, because of the high costs of energy and high costs of fuel, to see fossil fuel companies having the largest profits ever or at least in the recent past, and I strongly encourage Governments to tax those exceptional profits.

Spokesman:  Margaret Besheer, Voice of America.

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Secretary‑General, next week, the Foreign Ministers of both Russia and Ukraine are going to be here.  Are you trying to organize any kind of a meeting between them, using your good offices, either a direct meeting or some sort of an indirect shuttle diplomacy between rooms or something, to try and work out some of these important issues that you mentioned, like the POWs [prisoners of war] in Zaporizhzhia?

Secretary-General:  If I announce today that I'm trying to bring them together, that is the best, best way to make sure that they will not meet.

Spokesman:  Raghida Dergham in the back.

Question:  Secretary‑General, Raghida Dergham, columnist with The National and Annahar Al Arabi.  The IAEA seems to be at the very centre of the problem for the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and the deal with Iran.  You know that Tehran in position which is calling the positions of the IAEA being politically driven, so they say, and it seems to be a deal‑breaker.  What is it that you'd like to say to the Iranian leadership about their position regarding restricting the IAEA and demanding that its scope is, its limited scope of work is limited in Tehran?  What is it directly that you would like to say to the Iranian leadership on this matter and on how to get out of this impasse?

Secretary-General:  Well, I think the IAEA is a very important pillar, and I believe that its independence that exists and must be preserved is essential.  The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.  And I do believe the IAEA is doing its role based on the technical aspects in which the IAEA is supposed to have the knowledge and the capacity to do.  My appeal to the Government of Iran or to any other Government in the same situation is to establish a serious dialogue with the IAEA creating the conditions for an effective cooperation that is needed for the credibility of any agreement.

Question:  [Inaudible]?

Secretary-General:  Sorry?

Question:  Do you feel now that this potential deal between Iran and the 5+1 is doomed because of that position on the IAEA, or do you think there is a way to facilitate coming out of this…?

Secretary-General:  I do not think that is the most difficult question that is on the table.  I think there are other difficult questions on the table, and my appeal to all parties is to make sure that they are all solved.

Spokesman:  Kristen Saloomey, Al Jazeera.

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Kristen Saloomey from Al Jazeera.  You had some strong words for G20 leaders in your opening remarks.  Many of them will be at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II next week.  I'm wondering if you could talk about your decision not to attend the funeral and how you think that might impact the global focus on this important event and all the important issues you're trying to highlight next week.

Spokesman:  I did not decide not to attend the funeral.  I decided to stay in New York to open the Education Summit that is convened by me and in which many people that do not go to the funeral will be present.  So, it is my duty as Secretary‑General of the United Nations to be here when we have a summit convened by me.  Probably some of the personalities that were supposed to be in that Summit will not be able to come, but others will be coming, and I'm convinced that the Education Summit will be successful.  And the next day is the opening of the general debate, and obviously, it would be inconceivable that the Secretary‑General would not be opening the opening of the general debate.  So, I did not take a decision not to go to the funeral.  I took a decision to just exercise my duties, as I believe all Member States would consider necessary.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Yes, sir, BBC.

Correspondent:  Thank you, Mr.  Secretary…

Secretary-General:  It's not working.

Spokesman:  Yep.  Hold on.  There we go.

Question:  Thank you, Mr.  Secretary, for doing this.  Bahman Kalbasi, BBC News.  You talked about JCPOA briefly.  Do you mind expanding a little bit on that, whether you… do you think you may have any sway with the Iranian leaders? Mr. [Seyyed Ebrahim] Raisi will be attending for the first time.  And also, on human rights, this President was personally a member of committee in the 1980s that ordered mass executions of political prisoners.  The Special Rapporteur extensively talks about worsening situation of human rights in Iran against activists, political opponents.  What is your message to Mr. Raisi, if you see him, both on JCPOA and on this dismal human rights record?

Secretary-General:  I do believe that that meeting will take place, and it is obvious that those two issues will be in the agenda.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Yes, please.  Go ahead.  Marta, go ahead, please.  No, Lusa.  Sorry.  Yeah.

Question:  If I have permission to make the question in Portuguese?  O senhor secretário-geral fez um discurso, um discurso forte contra os países ricos.  Mas qual é a sua mensagem para os países africanos que constantemente sofrem com as alterações climáticas e agora também com a guerra na Ucrânia.  Qual é a mensagem para esses países que, ano após ano, se sentam aqui na Assembleia Geral, e vêm os problemas constantemente a acontecer.  A segunda pergunta é: o novo Presidente da Assembleia Geral disse, na segunda-feira, que apoiará, trabalhará ativamente para uma reforma do Conselho de Segurança, e eu queria saber se o senhor secretário-geral irá apoiar este trabalho.  Obrigada.

[In English:  The Secretary General made a speech, a strong speech against rich countries.  But, what is his message to African countries that are constantly suffering from climate change and now also from the war in Ukraine.  What is the message for these countries that year after year sit here in the General Assembly, and see problems constantly occurring.  The second question is:  the new President of the General Assembly said on Monday that he will support, actively work towards a reform of the Security Council, and I was wondering if the Secretary-General will support this work.  Thanks.]

Secretary-General: Em primeiro lugar, em relação ao Conselho de Segurança, há uma Comissão de Estados-membros que se debruça sobre este tema, e naturalmente, esta Comissão terá todo o meio apoio, embora eu não tenha uma direta responsabilidade a esse nível.  Eu não falei contra ninguém.  Eu falei a favor dos países em desenvolvimento e, nomeadamente, os países africanos.  Os países africanos estão, e muitos países em desenvolvimento, a maioria deles no mundo, está, como eu dizia há pouco, face a uma tempestade perfeita.  Não sei como é que em português se traduz o “perfect storm”, mas eu estou a traduzir a letra.  Muitos deles não tiveram vacinas a tempo, os fundos que na Europa e nos Estados Unidos foi possível mobilizar imprimindo dinheiro, esses países não podem imprimir dinheiro senão as suas moedas imediatamente se desvalorizam de forma inaceitável.  Não houve alívio da dívida, a não ser uma pequena suspensão em relação aos países menos desenvolvidos, mas alívio da dívida não existiu.  Não houve acesso com financiamentos beneficiados, quer subsídios, quer com taxas de juros mais baixas para países em desenvolvimento com rendimento médio que enfrentam gravíssimos problemas, vejam-se as pequenas ilhas, que tinham no turismo a sua receita fundamental e não tiveram receitas durante dois anos e têm o impacto das alterações climáticas e têm o impacto dos altos preços de energia, que são inteiramente dependentes, e da alimentação.  Estes países sofreram agora as consequências da guerra na Ucrânia e a verdade é que isso faz com que a situação seja uma situação muitas vezes desesperada, porque não há espaço fiscal para responder às necessidades dos países pobres.  Vemos a pobreza e a fome a aumentarem de forma dramática.  E é por isso que nós temos permanentemente insistido na adoção de imediatas medidas para dar liquidez a essas economias e para aliviar a dívida desses países e, ao mesmo tempo, temos insistido na necessidade de uma reforma do sistema financeiro global, porque o atual sistema financeiro foi um sistema definido pelos ricos a favor dos ricos e não serve de maneira nenhuma os interesses dos países em desenvolvimento, nomeadamente, os países africanos.

[In English:  First of all, in relation to the Security Council, a commission of Member States is looking at this issue, and naturally, this commission will have all my support, although I don't have direct responsibility at that level.  I didn't speak against anyone.  I spoke in favor of developing countries, namely African countries.  African countries are, and many developing countries, most of them in the world, are, as I was saying earlier, facing a perfect storm.  I don't know how the “perfect storm” is translated in Portuguese, but I'm translating it literally.  Many of them did not have vaccines in time, the funds that in Europe and the United States could be mobilized by printing money, these countries cannot print money otherwise their currencies will immediately devalue in an unacceptable way.  There was no debt relief, other than a small suspension in relation to the least developed countries, but at the level of debt there was none.  There was no excess with benefit financing, either through subsidies or with lower interest rates for developing countries with average income that face very serious problems, such as the small islands, which had their fundamental income from tourism and had no income for two years and they have the impact of climate change, and they have the impact of high energy prices, which they are entirely dependent, and food.  These countries suffered from the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the truth is that this makes the situation often hopeless, because there is no fiscal space to respond to the needs of poor countries.  We see poverty and hunger increase dramatically.  And that is why we have permanently insisted on the adoption of immediate measures to provide liquidity to these economies and to alleviate the debt of these countries, and at the same time, we have insisted on the need for a reform of the global financial system, because the current financial system, it was a system defined by the rich in favor of the rich and in no way serves the interests of developing countries, namely African countries.]

Spokesman:  Thank you.  We will transcribe that into English for the transcript.  Yes, please.  Go ahead.

Question:  Hi.  Caroline, Feature Story News.  Secretary‑General, you mentioned the real risk of multiple famines this year.  If the grain shipments are not sufficient, if the ammonia doesn't help fertilizers soon enough, what else can and should be done? And how can you convince world leaders to help with that?

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, we need to mobilize all resources.  In 2022, we have no lack of food — we have a problem of distribution.  So, what we have is to guarantee that there are effective mechanisms that allow developing countries with risk of famine to be able to have access to the food that is available, and this is either through forms of direct assistance.  The World Food Programme (WFP), as you know, is very active.  We had two ships that left the Black Sea, one to Yemen and one to the Horn of Africa.  A third is now being loaded to go to Djibouti, and the fourth will be arriving to go to Afghanistan.  So, we need to boost assistance, food assistance, to those more vulnerable situations.  And we need to create the conditions for these countries to have resources to be able to have access to the food markets.  On the other hand, if, in 2022, we have not a problem of food, we have a problem of distribution, if we don't normalize the fertilizer market, we will have a problem of food in 2023.  And indeed, we have news from West Africa and other parts of the world that farmers are cultivating less than in the previous year.  And that is the reason why we absolutely need to normalise the fertilizer market, and that is the reason why I strongly appeal to remove all obstacles to the exports of Russian fertilisers that are not ‑ I repeat ‑ that are not subject to sanctions.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Mr. Inaba, Kyodo.

Question:  Hi, my name is Toshiyuki Inaba from Kyodo News.  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  I have a follow‑up question on Ukraine.  It seems there is some possibility, in the coming weeks or coming month, that Ukraine will be in counter‑offensive and while Russia will be solely defensive.  In that situation, would you still call for the immediate ceasefire?  What is your vision?  What is your feasible plan to end this war?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Well, we cannot appeal to ceasefires based on who's winning the war, I mean, because if you appeal to ceasefires when one is winning and the… you don't appeal to ceasefire when the other is winning.  Then, I mean, things do not make any sense.  What we have been saying since the beginning is that what we need is peace, and peace ‑ and I always repeat ‑ in line with UN Charter and in line with international law.  I do not believe the conditions now are met for that to be possible.  And so, we will go on working to progressively, hopefully, create the trust that will build the capacity for those conditions to exist.  And in between, we try to mediate all aspects in which we can be useful, and we can limit suffering and we can limit the consequences of the war in Ukraine in the world.  And so many developing countries are suffering so much that we really need to pursue this objective very strongly.  But, I would not be telling the truth to you if I would create illusions that we are going to obtain a ceasefire tomorrow because there has been a change in the way the military operations are taking place.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  We're going to go online.  Ephrem, Arab News.

Question:  Thank you so much, Stéphane.  Mr. Secretary‑General, how do you see the role of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE [United Arab Emirates], in tackling the current global crises from food insecurity to energy to climate, as well as the more regional crises of the Middle East from Syria, Yemen, Libya and Palestine?  And how can, in what ways do you see the role can be enhanced?  Thank you very much.

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, I hope the GCC countries that have a huge capacity of production will contribute to minimise the energy crisis in the world, and I'm sure that they will be quite active in relation to the promotion of peace solutions in the neighbourhood, be it in Syria, be it in Libya or in Yemen or in any other country close to them.  I think that the people of Syria, the people of Libya and the people of Yemen have already suffered too much, and my appeal is for everybody to come together to solve those problems.  On the other hand, I hope that the dialogue that started between Saudi Arabia and Iran and other forms of dialogue in the region will produce results and will allow to a reduction of the tension in the Gulf.

Question: [Inaudible?]

Secretary-General: This is a central question for me.  I mean, what's happening to girls, not being able to attend the school, what's happened to women, not being able to work, and all forms of, I mean, violation of their rights, is absolutely shameful and this is for me the most important concern in relation to the situation in Afghanistan.

For information media. Not an official record.