Annan Thinks Coalition Against Terrorism Will Hold Up

Nobel Prize Winner Meets the Press

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NEW YORK, OCT. 14, 2001 ( Kofi Annan says his sharing in the award of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize «is more of a stimulus than a recognition.»

The U.N. secretary-general took note of international tensions when he met with the press after the announcement about the prize. The prize went to Annan and the United Nations.

«It is precisely in difficult times when we have to work harder to construct peace,» Annan said Friday.

U.N. headquarters was buzzing with news from Afghanistan, while Annan, accompanied by his Swedish wife, answered reporters´ questions.

–Q: George W. Bush has announced that the United Nations will play a key role when it comes to guaranteeing Afghanistan´s future stability. Are you ready to reconstruct the country?

–Annan: We cannot impose on Afghans a government they don´t want or don´t feel is their own. Therefore, any solution will have to stem from dialogue and collaboration with the different sections that make up the population. We have been working with the inhabitants of Afghanistan for some time, and we will continue to do so.

The events of recent weeks will probably accelerate the process and perhaps, having arrived at this point, it will be the people themselves who will ask for a change. A period of transition, to bring all parts closer, and much international aid will be necessary in the process of reconstruction.

At this moment the U.N. does not have the material resources to reconstruct the country. However, our strength comes from member states, and I am sure that if they believe the United Nations must have a key role, they will equip us for it.

–Q: Will the international coalition against terrorism hold until there is victory?

–Annan: I think so. It is a coalition; therefore, the different countries that compose it will play different roles, according to their capacity and willingness. There will be tensions, but terrorism is a common problem because it is a challenge to legitimate governments and can only be defeated by a united front.

–Q: The United States has advised the Security Council that it reserves the right to attack other countries and groups. You yourself have expressed your concern in the face of this possibility.

–Annan: It´s true, but we have not interpreted the declaration as a threat to strike out at will, according to the disposition of the one leading the military campaign.

These are very delicate decisions that must be pondered and approved with great care. Moreover, military operations are one aspect of this campaign against terrorism and, in the end, will not be the decisive one. Initiatives are necessary in the economic and political field and in intelligence, which will be far more important.

–Q: Bush has stated he is in favor of a Palestinian state. To date, the U.N. has been very prudent when it comes to giving its opinion on the solution to that conflict.

–Annan: Not everything that is done is published in the press, because sometimes it´s better that way. We are moving in several ways, and you will understand what I am saying when the appropriate moment comes.

–Q: In recent years, the U.N. has had a difficult relation with the United States. Have the Sept. 11 attacks changed that relation?

–Annan: The relation with the United States is excellent, and it was so before the attacks, as demonstrated by the solution of the problem of Washington´s late payments. Without a doubt, however, Sept. 11 changed many things: A new diplomatic attitude is required to address the threats posed by terrorism.

–Q: Isn´t the conferring of this Nobel Prize for peace to the U.N. a contradiction, precisely while a war rages which might make the clash of civilizations, ethnic groups and religions real … ?

–Annan: On the contrary, it is an encouragement to work harder, precisely because we have been unable to impede the conflict, which does not have a religion as its objective.

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