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Greek president speech at the UN
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From: Theodore Papadopoulos <email@example.com>
REMARKS AT 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
HIS EXCELLENCY CONSTANTINO STEPHANOPOULOS, PRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC, DELIVERS ADDRESS AT THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
OCTOBER 23, 1995
STEPHANOPOULOS: (IN FRENCH)
TRANSLATOR: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, I have always vividly recalled the founding 50 years ago of the United Nations. It was an event which strongly impressed all of us. And we placed many hopes in the new international organization, which was the successor to the League of Nations. My country, Greece, was emerging from the war and from triple enemy occupation which followed it emerged destroyed and bloodied, and its people wanted to look to the future with optimism and with certainty that a new era would dawn for it and for all of mankind.
We wanted to believe that the era of wars, of bombings, executions, famines, and the other ills plaguing men were confined to the past. The great powers had taken firm and definitive decisions. Security and peace were going to prevail at last. Democracy was going to govern the destiny of nations, and the new international organization was going to settle the disputes that could emerge among them.
Through its authority, the United Nations would make good throughout the world, the principles of international law, and that respect for human rights which were to be the subject of the Universal Declaration. The organization would also contribute to economic development and cooperation among peoples, and would take all necessary measures to avoid falling into the errors of the past, and thus, to avoid the weaknesses of the League of Nations.
What great hopes we cherished at the time. Since then, 50 years have elapsed, and we have become more realistic. Wars have not ceased, nor have the crimes which come in its wake, and the misfortunes of peoples which resulted. International norms, as they are deprived of the possibility of implementation, have turned out unable to impose themselves, and the democratic principles as well as human rights are often deliberately ignored, and are replaced by interests and by opportunistic interests.
But then, one might wonder, has nothing been done over these 50 years? No. It would be wrong to assert that. For, indeed, many things have been achieved, although perhaps not as much as we would have hoped. The primary objective, which is that of preserving new generations from the scourge of war, was partially achieved. Thanks to what has been called the balance of terror among the powers, but also thanks to the existence of the United Nations, it has been possible to avoid having the Cold War transform into a new global conflict.
The United Nations has always been a forum for discussion, and conciliation, and with a vote to adopt significant resolutions which did not all remain a dead letter, quite the opposite. Nevertheless, it is true that it has been impossible to avoid regional wars, which were unleashed throughout the world. It is true that the responsibility for this does not fall on the United Nations, which did not have and still does not have the possibility to ensure the implementation of its own resolutions unless the great powers reach agreement and give it the necessary means to do so.
That said, one might perhaps note that the organization has been lacking in firmness in the application of the justice issues which it has taken. However, insisting on its resolutions would have constituted strong moral pressure, which would have been all the more effective if the organization had persevered consistently and firmly. Cyprus is a striking example of the inability of our organization to firmly and decisively to condemn an act of military aggression which was followed by occupation which still continues.
The initial resolutions of the Security Council and of the General Assembly were not applied and we have had to endure a military occupation which has been continuing for over 20 years. We must, in the most absolute and firm terms, condemn not only the use of force, but also the threat of its use, which also constitutes a flagrant violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Unfortunately, such cases have occurred quite recently. I refer, in saying this, to the threat of war which a member state, through a decision of its national assembly made to Greece if it were to apply the provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea. What here it is astounding and totally inadmissible is that this threat was not formulated to ward off an illegal act, but to prevent a perfectly legitimate act.
The efforts made by the United Nations have been more effective for economic development and cooperation among peoples, efforts, which in many cases have been crowned with success. It also goes to the credit of the United Nations that it has made a firm proclamation of the need to respect and protect human rights, which thanks to the policy followed by the United Nations has been recognized and respected even in countries where they were in the past, flagrantly violated.
Doubtless, a great deal remains to be done even in this area. The strengthening and the effectiveness of the United Nations would be to the advantage of all of the members of the international community, who then would be acting within the framework of a system which would have full respect for the laws and principles of international law, and in which the law of the strongest would not be able to dominate.
In concluding with these ideas, I should like most sincerely to express the hope that the great and noble objectives of this organization will be realized as soon as possible, that organization, the 50th Anniversary of which we are celebrating. Thank you.
The FDCH Transcript Report October 23, 1995