Category: Archive

UN chief conducts world’s business on visit to Ireland

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stressed that the world attaches enormous importance to the Northern Ireland peace process during a visit to Ireland last week.

"There are many people around the world who are following this process very closely and rooting for it," Annan said. "Success here would be an inspiration for many people in other divided lands. So let’s make it work."

Annan was in Ireland for three days of talks during which he negotiated from Dublin on the phone about the deteriorating situation in the Serbian province of Kosovo, where nearly 2,000 people have died and thousands driven from their homes by ethnic clashes.

He contacted the Yugoslav foreign minister to urge the government to rescind its decision to expel U.S. envoy William Walker, head of the OSCE monitoring mission, and to allow the chief UN war crimes prosecutor, Louise Arbour, access to the Racak massacre site where 45 ethnic Albanians were found dead.

Annan had previously visited Dublin when he was UN under-secretary general for peacekeeping and he paid tribute to Ireland’s 40-year history with UN forces, during which 74 soldiers have died.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

He said the UN is at a critical stage with many areas of conflict around the world.

"We will be able to find some solutions to detain the situations and bring the suffering of the people to an end," Annan said. "It is a messy world we live in, but we should not give up."

He also urged Angola to reconsider its decision not to agree to an extension of the UN mandate there.

He said a troika of Russia, the United States and Portugal, with some African countries, wanted to leave a political presence in the country but that to do so would also require agreement.

"Given the situation on the ground, their presence would be more psychological than anything else," Annan said. "They wouldn’t have much to do. They wouldn’t be able to operate given the violence and the fact that the nation is at war."

Annan said UN peacekeepers and mediators could achieve a lot in situations like Angola — provided the parties were willing to cooperate.

Annan, who was accompanied by his wife, Nane, also met President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Ahern had just returned from a visit to the Middle East and he briefed the UN boss on his talks with Isr’l’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Foreign Minister David Andrews also raised with him the question of Ireland’s ambition to get a seat on the Security Council in the elections next year for membership in 2001 and 2002.

Andrews summed it up: "Two seats, three countries, ourselves Norway and Turkey. So somebody has to be the loser and it would be my intention to ensure that we are not going to lose."

Annan also visited the UN peacekeeping training school at the Curragh army camp and laid a wreath in honor of Irish troops killed while on UN duty.

At the moment, about 750 Irish troops are involved in eight peacekeeping operations throughout the world, most of them serving with the UNIFIL force in south Lebanon.

Annan was also conferred with an honorary degree by the National University of Ireland.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese