UN Secretary-General's joint press conference with Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov of Kyrgyz Republic
Thank you Mr. Prime Minister,
I would like to thank President Bakiev, Prime Minister Usenov and the people of Kyrgyzstan for their welcome and warm hospitality.
We have just concluded very constructive discussions, covering a range of regional and global issues and including the ongoing cooperation between the United Nations and the nation of Kyrgyzstan.
We agreed that the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy is an important forum for dialogue and regional engagement on a range of shared problems: water and energy, drug trafficking and terrorism, climate change and environmental degradation.
In Central Asia, as elsewhere, dialogue and regional cooperation are key to peaceful growth and development.
Dialogue costs little, but it can bring big returns.
In this regard, President Bakiev and I discussed the role of Kyrgyzstan in the environmental security of Central Asia.
In particular, I emphasized the importance of resolving problems of economic cooperation and competition over natural resources. Together, the leaders of the region can find solutions that benefit the entire region and respect the interests of all nations.
We also spoke about Kyrgyzstan's initiatives to address the dangers of uranium waste disposal, as well as issues of sustainable development and the importance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
As ever, the United Nations stands ready to assist on all these issues in every way that it can.
On human rights: I thanked the President for hosting the Central Asia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bishkek and asked for his full support in its work.
For the UN, the protection of human rights is a bedrock principle. Quite frankly, recent events have been troubling, including those of the past few days.
As I told the President, all human rights must be protected. That includes free speech and freedom of the media.
I welcomed the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and urged the government to participate, actively, in the Universal Periodic Review scheduled for 3 May of this year.
I encouraged the government to fulfill all obligations under international human rights law and the many treaties to which it is a signatory.
We spoke about Kyrgyzstan's membership in the UN Human Rights Council and the expectations of the international community with regard to visits by appointed independent experts.
I encouraged the President to further develop policies for advancing social health and well-being, fighting against corruption at all levels of society and strengthening the rule of law.
I also urged the President to orient his policies to further promote the democratic achievements of Kyrgyzstan, including its free press.
Media independence, tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and a robust civil society are all fundamental to modernization.
They are essential to creating growth, prosperity and opportunity.
I look forward to addressing Parliament later today on a full range of issues and opportunities for Kyrgyzstan and the United Nations to work together.
As I told President Bakiev, Central Asia is central to the wider world and to the many global challenges facing us.
Q: [translation from Russian] How can the UN influence countries in the region to effectively use the common-shared water resources?
SG: Water resources management is very sensitive and special to all Central Asia countries. That's why I am now in the process of listening to the views of all Central Asian countries. The presentation by Prime Minister Usenov has been very useful for me in understanding this.
Basically, in principle, all these natural resources - water, energy, electricity - should be harmoniously used for the common prosperity and development of all countries in the region. That is very much desirable. At the same time, I know there is a sovereign rights issue involved and that, again, should be respected.
The United Nations stands ready to assist in all and any way can. In fact, the United Nations welcomes the initiative of the leaders of Central Asia to save the Aral Sea. I have asked President Bakiev to nominate a focal point of his Government. And I want to ask all five countries to nominate a focal point so that the United Nations can coordinate on all these matters.
Most ideally, I hope the leaders of Central Asia will sit down together and discuss this matter, how Central Asian countries can promote common prosperity, peace and security through using these natural resources in a harmonious way.
Q: [translated from Russian:] In some countries water is used as a commodity. How can the UN help in using this experience in Central Asian states so countries can attract more investments in this sector?
SG: You should know that the whole world is experiencing water problems, scarcity of water. This has caused serious problems for the development of the world. At least 1.2 billion people do not have access to drinking water. I don't want to make any judgment about whether water is a commodity or not. However, water is a common natural resource, a very important resource to human beings and therefore, should be used properly, scarcely, to the best use.
How to use water resources is directly related to economic development. It has caused some political tensions. Therefore, I would urge again the leaders of Central Asia to sit down together and very seriously discuss this matter -- how they can use natural resources --water, electricity and gas -- all these national resources should be harmoniously used for common prosperity. That's what the international community expects. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United Nations is ready to assist in any way we can to facilitate this dialogue.
Thank you very much.