On the sidelines of the 3rd Conference on Security and Stability held in Rhodes, the Chairman of the 72nd UN General Assembly and Slovak Foreign Minister, Miroslav Lajčák, spoke exclusively to IBNA: for the Rhodes meeting, of the need for dialogue with the partners who are experiencing the issues of their region, Europe’s assumption of its leading role on the world stage, and the reforms taking place at the UN. Miroslav Lajčák also congratulated the leaders of Greece and fYROMacedonia on the historic “Prespes Agreement”.
What are your expectations from the 3rd Rhodes Conference on Security and Stability?
These conferences have already become a tradition, and I like the whole idea behind it. First of all, to meet in an informal setting on the beautiful island of Rhodes which always makes everyone feel more relaxed. Second, the composition of participants which allows to focus on issues that belong to this region. And of course there are many very important issues and problems with a global impact, so, because of the number of participants, I expect to have a very good in-depth discussion. I also like the theme, the need to focus on the positive, on a positive agenda. Usually, at the formal meetings, when there are tens of countries, a good platform is not really provided for in-depth discussion because everybody is under time constraint. But this conference could really contribute to finding answers to some problems.
Is it necessary to engage in more discussion with the Arab world; because sometimes we feel that only Europe is the center of the world?
Yes, absolutely. There are many problems that are currently taking place in the Arab world, but they are not limited to the Arab world, we all feel the impact. Therefore, we need to talk to other partners and you are also right that European ministers are meeting very often, but most often among themselves, to discuss the problems of the rest of the world. It is much better to talk to authentic partners from the region, who know everything about those problems. So, I am a strong supporter of dialogue, and what is happening here now is exactly that.
Last Sunday we had the signing of an agreement between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. May I have your comment? Is this the first step for the stability of the region?
I very much congratulate the two governments, the two prime ministers and the two foreign ministers for showing leadership, vision, responsibility and courage. I issued a statement of congratulations as representative of the General Assembly and I’ve been following this issue for many years and I know how big a problem it has become. Therefore, this is good, positive news. We need good news. I would like also to say that both the Greek and the Northern Macedonia government showed great level of leadership and responsibility. So, it’s very good news from this region.
Do you believe that changes are required at EU level, so as to shift focus from the economic side and firms, towards the public, the people of Europe?
You know, since September, I am not acting as Foreign Minister because I am the president of the United Nations General Assembly. I am not participating in ministerial councils, so I don’t want to speak very much about the European Union on technical or detailed issues. What I want to say – and this is what I told European leaders when I visited Brussels as president of the General Assembly – is that I would like to see more of the European Union on the global stage. Somehow it spends too much time dealing with its internal problems or issues. It is a global player, it has global responsibilities and it is expected of the EU to assume these responsibilities and play this global role. And you can see it perfectly from New York that the voice of Europe is not as strong as it should be, given the economic strength, given the financial contribution to the budget. And of course we must not limit the European idea to figures because it was built and born on ideas and on values.
The last question is about the UN. We have discussions for over 10 years about the changes at the UN. Are you ready to make changes?
Changes are happening. People usually limit the discussions about reforms or about changes to the Security Council. And there is a general acceptance of the fact that the composition of the Security Council does not reflect the realities of the 21st century. And there is also a process called Security Council Reform which goes painfully slowly but the discussions are happening and they are also happening now in New York. But there are also many other reform processes, strengthening the role of the General Assembly, reform of the economic and social council, harmonization of the structure of the UN with Agenda 2030. And for this session that I am presiding over, we have three more reforms that are presented by the Secretary General; one was already adopted, it is the reform of the development system; and then there are two more, management reform and regional security architecture, which we are still in the discussion process. So, there is a massive reform effort. Of course, to agree on anything among 193 member-states is not easy but I will disagree with those saying the UN is not reforming. Everybody understands that we have to evolve; we have to change and be better equipped for today’s challenges. /IBNA