Activities of Secretary-General in Germany, 17-18 February

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres departed New York for Munich on Thursday, 17 February, where he would attend the Munich Security Conference.

On Friday afternoon, he participated in the opening segment, held at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, titled “Turning the Tide:  International Cooperation in a Time of Mounting Crises”.  In his remarks, he warned about the consequences of growing geopolitical divides, including the divisions in the Security Council.

The Secretary-General noted the concentration of Russian Federation forces around Ukraine and said that he was deeply concerned about heightened tensions and increased speculation about a military conflict in Europe.  He said he still thinks it will not happen and that, if it would, it would be catastrophic.  He added that there is no alternative to diplomacy — it is high time to seriously de-escalate.

He added that the United Nations system remains fully operational in Ukraine, including our humanitarian work in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Secretary-General also drew attention to the proliferation of crises, the threat of global terrorism, non-traditional security threats like COVID-19, and the challenges posed by digital technology.  He said that we need a surge in diplomacy for peace, a surge in political will for peace, and a surge in investment for peace.  (See Press Release SG/SM/21146.)

Throughout the day he held bilateral meetings with attendees of the Conference.  He departed Munich early on Friday evening.

For information media. Not an official record.