Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN in New York

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General Assembly - 54th Session (1999-2000)

  Informationen zur Erteilung eines Visums für einen länger als 90 Tage dauernden Aufenthalt     Jeder Ausländer, der beabsichtigt, sich wegen einer Angelegenheit, die länger als 90 Tage beansprucht, in der Tschechischen Republik aufzuhalten, benötigt ein entsprechendes

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PLENARY


  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 38, Question of Equitable Representation and on Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters
    New York, December 16, 1999

  • Statement by Mr. Jan Kara, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 14, Report of the International Agency for Atomic Energy
    New York, November 4, 1999

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, at the fifty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
    New York, September 22, 1999


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 38 Question of Equitable Representation and on Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters

Mr. President,

Let me first highly appreciate your support for opening this crucial agenda item before we adjourn our autumn session, and indeed, before we cross the threshold of the new Millennium. Any other decision could be interpreted as downplaying the importance of the Security Council reform and would compromise the expectations of the world community which shares the belief that Security Council should reflect realities of the contemporary world. Yes, we must keep the reform agenda alive, at least, and we must spare no effort to push it forward.

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic has been - since the very outset of our current round of reform deliberations - known as a reform-minded country and we took numerous opportunities to reiterate and reinforce our position, the backbone of which can be summarized as follows:

- As to the size and composition of the Security Council, we believe that current global realities would be most appropriately reflected through enlargement of the Security Council in both categories; our choice would be 5 additional permanent seats and 4 - 5 additional non-permanent seats, including one for Eastern Europe. We respect the option of rotating permanent seats for specific regions, but no country or region should be forced into such a scheme.

- As to the question of veto, we continue to favor some reduction of areas where the veto can be applied, possibly through individual commitments by permanent members and other steps which do not necessarily require Charter amendments, as suggested in G-10 proposal of June 25, 1998.

- In the area of Security Council working methods, we generally welcome and support any motion towards greater openness and transparency. Here, we have recently noticed with appreciation some remarkable improvements, as the Council members opened their deliberations on more frequent basis to non-members and the new idea of opened briefings came to life. Although a lot of issues has not been addressed yet, there seems to be real will to do more, especially on the side of some non-permanent members of the Security Council. They have our full support and we encourage them to continue their efforts. The next step is to turn these rather ad hoc arrangements into permanent ones.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, apart from Cluster II we have seen little or no progress for a couple of years, and this is an increasingly embarrassing observation. The stalled discussions in Cluster I, face to face with the new challenges, including the "Kosovo crisis" and "humanitarian intervention agenda", tend to undermine the credibility of the whole UN. There were some encouraging signs in this regard, among others the joint statement of 23 September 1999 by foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Council, but much more has to be done, and in more concrete terms. It does not seem to be unfair to expect some leadership from the countries which enjoy important privileges under the Charter. Not leadership towards stalling but leadership towards genuine reform action.

We also very much rely on you, Mr. President, in energizing this community of nations, and by capturing the momentum of the new Millennium, in creating atmosphere conducive to the reform, so that the Millennium Summit may already see the emerging new world order.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Statement by Mr. Jan Kara, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 14, Report of the International Agency for Atomic Energy

Mr President,

let me start with appreciating the report of the Agency as introduced by Director-General, Mr. Mohamed El Baradei. We commend his performance in his responsible position. The Czech Republic associated itself with the statement of the European Union presented by the distinguished representative of Finland earlier this week, which allows me to confine my intervention to just a few comments related to this agenda item.

I. Safeguards and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic attaches utmost importance to the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement between our country and the IAEA, which we have signed with the Agency earlier this year. We believe that the implementation of the Protocols will help to increase the transparency of nuclear programs of individual states and strengthen the Agency's ability to uncover undeclared use of nuclear materials and nuclear energy for other than peaceful purposes.

As part of our commitments within the frame of the NPT, we have been applying a strict license regime in respect of exports and imports of all items subject to control in the field of use of nuclear materials and nuclear energy. An important part of nuclear non-proliferation control is also physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear installations. Here I can state that all IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service Missions, which have inspected nuclear installations in the Czech Republic, confirmed a high level of physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear installations.

II. Nuclear power engineering

Mr President,

Nuclear power engineering constitutes important part of the program of peaceful use of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic. We are of the view that nuclear power in our conditions may have some positive environmental effects and may help, among others, to preserve the limited sources of fossil fuels for the future generations. At the same time, the Government of the Czech Republic understands that a necessary prerequisite for the use of nuclear power resources is the achievement of the maximum possible level of nuclear safety and radiation protection. In this connection, in past few year, our country completed a fundamental reform of the legislative and regulatory framework started after 1993. It reflects nearly fifteen years of experience in the operation of four blocks of the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant, the current international practice and last but not least also the latest findings of science and research. Today, the Czech Republic has modern "nuclear" legislation, and the mandate of its state supervisory body provides for sufficient independence, sources and competencies facilitating the assessment of the level of nuclear safety and radiation protection within all activities related to the use of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation.

The Government of the Czech Republic also approaches sensitively the international dimension of nuclear safety and radiation protection. An example of this approach is the recent use by the Czech Republic of the mechanism of the Nuclear Safety Convention to provide complex information on the compliance with the nuclear safety and radiation protection requirements in the nuclear power plants on the territory of the Czech Republic. We have welcomed the openness of the discussion during the review process concluded by the first review meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention held in Vienna last April. The declared objective of the Convention is the achievement and preservation worldwide of a high level of nuclear safety through increased levels of national measures and international cooperation. We therefore see the positive result of the assessment of the Czech Republic by other Contracting Parties to the Convention as confirmation of high level of nuclear safety and radiation protection in our country. In this context, I would like to highly appreciate the work of the IAEA acting as the Secretariat of the Convention and having largely contributed to the smooth course of the whole review process.

III. Program of the technical cooperation

Mr. President,

The use of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation, and their development in the Czech Republic have been for a number of years closely linked with international cooperation and technical assistance programs. The Czech Republic highly appreciates the program of technical cooperation with the IAEA. Within its framework, it acts both as the receiving country and as a donor.

The country attaches utmost importance to its model project entitled "Cyclotron for the Manufacture of Short-Lived Radiopharmaceuticals for Diagnosis in Cardiology and Oncology, including the Creation of a Distribution Network" which is nearing its successful completion with the support of experts from both sides.

Within its capacities, the Czech Republic has been making every effort to increase its participation in IAEA technical assistance directed to the other Member States. In 1998 and 1999, the Czech Government contributed USD 150,000 to a project aimed at installation of a new system for non-destructive controls of VVER-1000/320 reactors pressure vessels in Ukraine. Apart from this, the State Office for Nuclear Safety committed itself to support in the 1999-2000 period the Agency's efforts within model projects aimed at increasing the level of radiation protection. We have also commited ourselves to train, in addition to standard contingents, 50 experts, in particular from countries of the former Soviet Union. The contribution of the Czech Republic to the success of the technical cooperation program also includes the organization of a number of events in its territory. In 1999 alone, the country has organized ten seminars and training courses.

Mr President,

In conclusion, I would like to express the Czech Republic´s appreciation of the IAEA essential role in promoting international co-operation in the field of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and reiterate the support of the Czech Republic to all initiatives which are aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency's administration, programs and activities.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, at the fifty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. President,

By way of introduction, let me congratulate you on your election as President of the 54th session of the UN General Assembly and wish you every success in the execution of this important office. At the same time I would like to use this opportunity to express thanks to your predecessor, Mr. Didier Opertti of Uruguay, for his responsible work and the efforts he has devoted to UN activities throughout the entire year.

The Czech Republic is very pleased that after five years this assembly again has an opportunity to welcome new UN members - Nauru, Kiribati and Tonga. This further expansion of the UN family signifies its increasingly universal nature, which the Czech Republic unequivocally supports.

Mr. President,

This year marks an important milestone for the Czech Republic, which became a member of the NATO together with Hungary and Poland this past spring. Recalling Article 1 of the Washington Treaty, which refers to the UN Charter and commits its members to address international conflicts by peaceful means, we believe that this historically first enlargement of the Alliance following the end of the cold war will contribute to the enhancement of stability and security and do so not only in our region. We support the continuation of NATO' enlargement by including other countries, and we are convinced that this first step will also have a motivating and mobilizing character for them.

NATO's new strategic concept emphasizes its broad approach to security issues; it envisages the necessity of not only facing military risks but also of monitoring economic, social, environmental and political issues that may disrupt security and stability. NATO has demonstrated that it has both the functional mechanisms for crisis management and the capacities to manage humanitarian crises. However, there is an obvious need for the Alliance's potential to be fully utilized by an effective cooperation with the UN which has the ability to oversee the restoration of civil administration and infrastructure. It is this close cooperation that underlines that our commitment to peace is as strong as our will to challenge gross violation of human rights by military means. And, of course, the concept of regional security in Europe cannot be imagined without NATO's cooperation also with OSCE, WEU or the Council of Europe.

Development in Europe is profoundly influenced by ever deeper integration; therefore, the successful completion of the long-term process of our country's entry into the European Union is currently the highest Czech foreign policy priority. Having started accession talks in the spring of last year, the Czech Republic promotes political dialogue with the EU member states and associated countries. Through our active involvement in the common foreign and security policy we assume our share of responsibility for development in Europe and the world, obviously to date within the restrictive framework of our status of an associated country. We attach major importance to the social and environmental dimensions of European integration. We are fully aware that the importance of these dimensions will continue to increase as it has to keep pace with the advancement of the globalization.

Mr. President,

The disintegration of a bipolar world has brought about the transition from confrontation to cooperation, to the efforts to create a new security architecture, and to the integration processes, particularly on the European continent. However, it has also brought about eruptions of dormant threats and the emergence of new centres of instability. The Kosovo tragedy and other crises have brought us closer to recognizing how important the principle of personal security of human beings and its guarantees are as a precondition of peace and security in the world. The fact that the worst atrocities which have nothing in common with the civilized world are still being committed at the end of the 20th century makes this recognition all the more sad and alarming. In this context, the Czech Republic would express its appreciation and support of the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The Czech Republic is convinced that the international community's efforts should result in just punishment for all the atrocities committed. Robin Cook correctly argued here that we must counter the culture of impunity. All criminals should be held to account. As Secretary General Kofi Annan said: massive and systematic violation of human rights should not be allowed to stand wherever they may take place.

Kosovo will be the benchmark for the success achieved by international institutions. Kosovo now lives in a period when it is necessary to defend peace, that is, a period in which to achieve political stability and democratization, economic stabilization and a gradual development of the region. The Czech Republic is interested in the region's stability in all respects. This is why it participated (also as the currently presiding country of the Central European Initiative), in the Stability Pact summit meeting at Sarajevo and will be working toward democratization, economic reconstruction and security in the region. We are, of course, fully aware that this is far easier said than done. The obstacles on this road are numerous and enormous.

Mr. President,

The UN plays an irreplaceable role in providing for international peace and security. Peaceful resolution of disputes will undoubtedly continue to be one of the UN´s main priorities. The Czech Republic therefore attaches great importance to the use of peace-keeping operations in dealing with crisis situations and supports the efforts directed toward their higher efficiency, particularly as regards their rapid deployment. Speed appears to be the key aspect in many cases. However, the UN must also have adequate funding to carry out this demanding role effectively; unfortunately, its financial resources are considerably limited at present because of the fact that some member states fail to honour their financial obligations. The UNMIK mission to Kosovo has been marked by these problems and thus the mission was not financially secured to the degree which would have correspond with the security situation at hand and with the difficult task to restore civil administration in Kosovo. On the other hand, it has probably been the most rapidly deployed mission in the history of the UN.

The importance of UNMIK is seen by the fact that, as the highest civilian authority in Kosovo, it coordinates activities of international regional governmental and non-governmental organizations. The Czech Republic highly appreciates the positive cooperation between UNMIK and KFOR, although it is evident that the international security forces cannot in the long-term replace civilian administration and police forces. There is a major degree of responsibility which lies on the shoulders of the UN, and especially on the Secretary General's Special Representative, Bernard Kouchner, in Kosovo. Personally, I had an opportunity to get to know his difficult task at first hand during my visit to Pristina a few days ago. The SG Special Representative needs full support of the international community in his efforts, including the transformation of the UCK into non-military Kosovo Protection Corps. The Czech Republic obviously supports all steps and measures which may bring about the establishment of a democratic and multiethnic society in Kosovo as stipulated by the Washington´s NATO summit. Unfortunately, during my stay in Kosovo I did not come across any convincing evidence that this vision could really be implemented in any foreseeable future. Just the contrary, the diminishing number of Serbs in Kosovo, the continuous threats of murder even towards very old Serbian ladies, the rising influence of mafia, as Mr. Kouchner told me, the ever present spirit of revenge, the lack of trained police forces, the absence of local civil administration, the disease of corruption, rivalry between different sections of the Kosovo Albanians, are just some of the obstacles which have to be dealt with decisively in order to prevent the vision of the future to become nothing but a never fulfilled dream.

I wholeheartedly agree with the Secretary General´s unequivocal statement that commitment to humanitarian action must be universal if it is to be legitimate. This means that not only our commitment to peace and stability cannot end with the cessation of hostility but that we have to be seen to be objective and evenhanded towards all ethnic groups as well as towards all regions. I am glad to note that the recent argument that "East Timor is not Kosovo" was quietly dropped. As Secretary General said, and we have to agree: Humanity, after all, is indivisible.

The Czech Republic intends to continue its involvement in peace operations under the leadership of both the UN and regional organizations as borne out, among other things, by the operation of Czech units under the NATO command in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Kosovo. First Czech policemen should arrive in Kosovo to join the UNMIK police force within next five days. The amount of police necessary to maintain civil order in Kosovo is more than double the figure originally estimated, Mr. Kouchner told me. Police officials, not military, are trained to investigate murders or even more importantly to take measures to prevent murders or other grave challenges to law and order. The Czech Republic is also prepared to consider sending military observers to the UN peace missions in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo and, of course, following recent request by Australia and the UN Security Council mandate, also to East Timor.

The Czech Republic is concerned with the developments in East Timor. We welcome the fact that after decades the people of East Timor were given an opportunity to implement their right to self-determination and we feel shocked that the results of the referendum led to bloodshed and indiscriminate killings. Indonesia's acceptance of the UN's military peace-keeping forces has made us confident that the UN will succeed in ensuring peace in that area.

Peace and security in crisis-ridden areas are also closely related to humanitarian relief, which is provided as a rule to afflicted civilian populations. A radical deterioration in the security situation may cause a devastating humanitarian crises, as we have seen in Kosovo. Here, too, there is a need to look at the possibilities of simplifying the UN's decision-making mechanisms. It is disturbing that, for example, the UNHCR did not have sufficient resources and capacities to tackle the humanitarian crisis in that region, which was mainly due to the somewhat rigid procedures.

Mr. President,

One of the most important tasks of the international community is undoubtedly to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to eliminate them completely. Our aim is still the world without any nuclear weapons. With regard to the forthcoming review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to be held in 2000, the Czech Republic calls for overcoming the stagnation in negotiations of the relevant treaties supporting non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and for developing more positive attitudes, particularly on the part of nuclear countries, which will create a more favourable atmosphere in the disarmament process and lead to the adoption of clear, practical and implementable nuclear disarmament measures in the new millennium. There is no question that an early ratification of the US-Russia START II Treaty would help considerably to enliven the disarmament process. We consider the achievement of universal applicability of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and their speedy ratification an urgent task. In this respect, we particularly appreciate CTBT ratification by France and the United Kingdom. The Czech Republic hopes that the conference of CTBT countries at Vienna in October this year will help to accelerate ratification in other countries.

We welcome the efforts to improve the efficiency of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and we continue to express our support for an early negotiation of the Verification Protocol to the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BWC).

Regarding conventional arms, the Czech Republic supports all measures which contribute to greater transparency. It consistently fulfills its obligations related to notifying relevant registers and supports the efforts for an expansion of their procedures which would cover also additional types of weapons. The Czech Republic also fully shares the international community´s grave concern over illegal transfers of hand-held and light weapons and supports all measures required to stop such activities. In the context of the international efforts to limit and ban the use of anti-personnel land mines, I can inform you with satisfaction that following last year´s ratification of the Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), the Czech Republic has completed the process of the Ottawa Convention ratification and will soon hand over the ratification instrument to the UN Secretary General. We support all efforts towards achieving a universal applicability of this Convention. We continue to be involved in international activities focussed on de-mining and on help to land-mine victims.

The Czech Republic has welcomed the enlargement of the Conference on Disarmament by another five countries, to which I extend warm congratulations. At the same time we express our hope that the Conference on Disarmament will succeed in overcoming the current stagnation and start talks not only on the Treaty Banning the Production of Fissionable Materials for Military Purposes but also on other topical problems of arms control and disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and on security guarantees for non-nuclear countries.

Mr. President,

There is no doubt that this year has been a real test for the UN, as well as a critical test of trans-national decision-making during crises. This test, so crucial for the UN´s future, has not yet been concluded and properly evaluated. It is not only Kosovo that has revealed that the UN in its present form does not make full use of its potential to be an irreplaceable vehicle for achieving the goals set out in its Charter. At the threshold of the third millennium, the Organization therefore looks for an answer to the question of how the international community can become a truly responsible community and what role will the United Nations play in this process.

In our view, the UN must first of all respond to the changed substance of conflicts in today's world. These are not classical conflicts between states but, in most cases, internal conflicts rather similar to civil wars. The UN and the international community in general faces the need to clearly define the relation of "national sovereignty versus protection of human rights" and ultimately a discussion on how it should support sensible civilian governments that keep armed forces under control. In this context, we should clearly focus on Secretary General´s argument about individual sovereignty and the right of every individual to control his or her own destiny.

Secondly, the urgency of a radical acceleration of the UN reform process, particularly the reform of its Security Council, is becoming increasingly evident. The Czech Republic fully supports Secretary General Kofi Annan's reform efforts and I would like to share his optimism concerning early substantial progress in reform negotiations which he expressed to me during our talks in Prague last July. I have to admit that we consider the results of this year's negotiations, and especially those on Security Council reform, to be inadequate. This, of course, corresponds to the UN's role during the initial stages of the Kosovo conflict. The composition of the Security Council requires change. The Czech Republic believes that the number of both permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council needs to be increased while representation of developing countries has to be strengthened.

Thirdly, conflict prevention mechanisms need to be created and attention should be devoted to questions like discrimination, poverty, access to raw materials or arms trade. Arms trade does not include only extensive, elaborate weapon systems. It is the excessive accumulation of hand-held and other small-arms which above all requires our tough response because these personal weapons play a key role in most conflicts. I would like to express my full support for Foreign Secretary Robin Cook´s call to halt the illegal trade in small arms. Cooperation with regional organizations such as OSCE or OAU which may be more successful in dealing with conflicts, should also play a role in preventing conflicts. I welcome Secretary General´s emphasis on moving from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.

Fourthly, the UN´s role in the area of human rights and as part of a broader concept of human security should be considerably intensified. We welcomed UN Secretary General Kofi Annan´s personal statement in his address at this year's meeting of the UN Commission for Human Rights: "I have made human rights a priority in every United Nations programme". This accurately reflects the importance which the UN should give human rights issues in the future. The UN should ensure that the universal nature of human rights is accepted and projected as a leading principle for the conduct of the international community. By our joint efforts we should guarantee a dignified and fully fledged life for every individual in the next millennium. It is unacceptable at the threshold of the new millennium to claim that human rights are relative and that their violation by sovereign states on their own territory is only their internal affair and as such may not be the subject of interest to other members of the international community. If the UN were unable to publicly defend the existence of human rights, it would be unable to defend its own existence. At the same time let us not forget SG´s warning about the need to ensure universal legitimacy. Incidentally, the new Czech Government has adopted a foreign policy concept which regards human rights as one of its main pillars and at the same time stresses the desirability of UN mandate for a peace enforcing operations.

Fifth, it is in the UN's vital interest for the world to step into the 21st century under the rule of law in international relations. The situation in former Yugoslavia, including developments in Kosovo, clearly shows the extremely important role already played today by international judicial bodies in enhancing the prestige of international law and its gradual integration into the political decision-making processes. Implementation of international law by the UN's international judicial bodies has considerable positive influence on how global public opinion perceives the UN itself.

Mr. President,

Let me now touch briefly on one more serious problem. The recent earthquakes in Turkey, Greece and Taiwan, have underlined the need for the world to be prepared to provide coordinated help to an area hit by a massive natural disaster. This experience should in our view lead to the further strengthening and deepening of the idea presented already some time ago: namely the idea of the so-called White Helmets. The challenge is to extend White Helmets into regular international rescue forces under the UN leadership, capable of coordinated action on the spot, naturally with the consent of the countries receiving such an assistance. The ultimate goal could be the formation of a rapid response international forces formed by national contingents and by permanently available well equipped expert groups which could be despatched to the stricken area in a matter of minutes or hours.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, let us remind ourselves once again that the UN's future is primarily a matter of the political will of its member states. Finding answers to the questions raised at this years´s UN General Assembly is therefore not only up to the UN but up to the entire international community. The Millennium Assembly should give us a major opportunity for finding answers to these questions, I also hope that the Millenium Assembly will contribute decisively to the acceleration of work on the UN reforms whose need was highlighted by the Kosovo crises. I am sure that the recovery of the commitment to multilateralism and to the leading UN´s role in the struggle to upheld basic Charter values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law is now in sight.

My traditionally cautious optimism was slightly strengthened in this respect by listening here to some politicians representing countries with more resources than the Czech Republic has at its disposal. Our sources are unfortunately limited.

Nevertheless we will continue to support the UN, as I have said, to participate in its missions, to pour millions of dollars into humanitarian and development aid, etc. The point I wished to make clear by my speech is that we will always be ready to help.

Thank you, Mr. President.