Activities of Secretary-General in Belgium, 19-22 March

On Tuesday, 19 March, the Secretary-General departed New York for Brussels, where he attended a series of meetings with European leaders.

On Wednesday, he took part in a working lunch, organized by Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.

During a joint press stakeout that took place just before the lunch, the Secretary-General said they were meeting at a particularly dark moment when Europe’s role on the global stage is more important than ever.

Turning to the situation in Ukraine, the Secretary-General reiterated his call for a just peace — respecting the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.

And in Gaza, as more than half of the population — over a million people — are facing catastrophic hunger, the Secretary-General called on the Israeli authorities to ensure complete and unfettered access for humanitarian goods throughout Gaza and for the international community to fully support our humanitarian efforts.

We must keep doing everything to stop the killing, reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and secure the release of the hostages, he added.

Beyond these wars, mistrust and division rule the day, Mr. Guterres said.  Multilateralism and solidarity are in the DNA of the European Union.  As we prepare for the UN Summit of the Future in September, he urged the European Union and its member States to keep pushing for a more inclusive, effective and resilient international system.

Also on Wednesday, the Secretary-General had meetings with Hadja Lahbib, Belgium’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Caroline Gennez, Minister for Development Cooperation, as well as with Jutta Urpilainen, the European Union Commissioner for International Partnership.

In the evening, the Secretary-General had dinner with Charles Michel, the President of the European Council.

On Thursday, 21 March, at the invitation of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the Secretary-General attended a working lunch with the Heads of State and Government of the European Union.

Prior to the lunch, he addressed the media with Charles Michel.  The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation for the excellent cooperation between the EU and the UN and the strong support of the European Union to the UN and to multilateralism.

He told journalists that as we live in a chaotic world, with the super-Powers at odds with each other, it is very important to stick to clear principles:  the Charter of the United Nations, international law, territorial integrity of countries, international humanitarian law.

He renewed his call for peace in Ukraine, in line with the Charter of the United Nations, international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.  He also reiterated the need for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

We must stick to principles, he said, in Ukraine as in Gaza, without double standards, and at the same time, we must push the world to move progressively into some orderly form of multipolarity with strong multilateral institutions.

Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General had a meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola.  He also met with the President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulidis.

On Friday, 22 March, the Secretary-General had a discussion with the UN country team.  He also participated in a ceremony to mark the twentieth anniversary of the UN Regional Information Centre — better known as UNRIC.

For information media. Not an official record.