Speech

Speech by H.E. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, at ITAM in Mexico City on 11 November, 2003 ”Mexico, the EU and the UN” (Talen er på engelsk)

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President of ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México), Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to speak here today. It is a privilege to share my views with you on the situation in the United Nations and in the European Union today. In particular, at a university renowned for its high standards - not least in the field of international relations.

Mexico has an impressive international profile. The fact that Mexico recently has been hosting such important international Summits as the ones in Monterrey and Cancun speaks for itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The need for international co-operation is greater than ever. In an ever more interdependent world, where challenges and opportunities transcend borders ever more easily, international co-operation must increase. Both Mexico and Denmark have understood this. And both countries actively take part in the great multilateral fora.

Faced with the new challenges and opportunities, institutions with an international agenda like the United Nations and the European Union have to adapt and change. We, the Member States of these institutions, must take the lead and make sure that these changes are carried out to the benefit of all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations is a key international player. The United Nations is assigned the giant and noble task of improving conditions for all people in the world. Denmark is a founding member of the United Nations. We truly believe in the unique value of the United Nations in world affairs. Over the past six decades the UN has served as an invaluable forum for policy and decision-making at the global scale.

Today we need the United Nations more than ever. We need the UN to provide a more secure world, to fight international terrorism, to resolve conflicts and to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We need the UN to ensure that fundamental human rights are respected for all people – including indigenous people. We need the UN to develop and implement an international legal order based on the rule of law. And we need the UN in order to combat poverty and secure sustainable economic growth.

Only three years ago, world leaders agreed on the Millennium Declaration. This declaration represents the shared vision of Member States of the United Nations for global solidarity and security and the fight against poverty.

The agreement at the Monterrey Summit on Financing for Development represents an important contribution in this endeavor. The Monterrey Summit was a remarkable success in increasing funds for development. At the same time, the Summit brought good governance to the center of the development agenda. Another remarkable and encouraging outcome. All in all, the Monterrey Summit became a key element in the later success of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

In my view, much will be achieved if we maintain our focus on implementing our joint vision anchored in the Millennium Declaration and especially the Millennium Development Goals.

We still have an immense amount of work ahead of us. But I am confident that we are on the right path. And I can assure you that Denmark will continue to be in the forefront of the work that lies ahead of us. We will continue to focus on areas where we can contribute to make the world a better place to live. Denmark is therefore seeking to be elected member of the Security Council 2005-2006. Just like Mexico right now is a member of the Security Council.

In his address to the General Assembly two months ago, the Secretary General rightly noted that the United Nations has come to a juncture – perhaps the most important one since the organization was created in 1945. We all know the background - the United Nations failure in handling the Iraq crisis last spring.

Secretary General Kofi Annan asked that we now decide whether it is possible to continue on the existing basis or whether there is need for radical change. His opinion is clear, and he raised a valid point. But it is up to us - the Member States - to take decisions on how to move forward from this point. After all, without the contribution and active engagement of the Member States, the UN is but an empty shell.

Certainly, now is the time for reflection. Let me briefly highlight three areas, where the UN could be made stronger:

· Challenges against our security and the fight against terrorism

· International order based on the rule of law

· The fight against poverty

First, the UN is at the core of efforts to tackle old and new security challenges. In recent times, the Security Council has successfully taken on international terrorism and should continue to focus on how to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We need more clarity with regard to criteria for intervention in crises.

The Security Council reflects the power structures that existed at the end of the Second World War. Consequently, a comprehensive reform is needed to improve the legitimacy of the Council – for instance by expanding the number of member seats – and at the same time safeguarding the efficiency of the decision-making process.

Second, the UN is essential for the development and implementation of an international legal order based on the rule of law. It is imperative that all states are committed to co-operate constructively with the UN human rights mechanisms and overcome traditional concepts of State sovereignty.

Third, the UN is at the forefront in the fight against poverty. By agreeing to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, we have set ourselves important and measurable targets, by which we must all stand and be counted. If we fail to reach the goals, we, the Member States, will bear the consequences. Development assistance is an important to reach these goals. By granting well above the UN target of 0,7 percent of national income in development aid, Denmark is lifting her share of the task.

However an even more important instrument is a liberalized world market. For the least developed countries free access to the world market is crucial to improve the economic situation.

Another organization that has taken upon itself to combat poverty and to create a stronger global economy is the World Trade Organization.

Mexico’s efforts to organize the WTO Ministerial in Cancun were impressive. By hosting it, Mexico showed the way for all with respect to our international obligations. Unfortunately, the results did not reflect your organizational skills. The outcome forces us to reflect upon the degree of realism in positions taken by some of the major participants, all of which did not correspond to the seriousness of the occasion.

The WTO negotiations in the Doha-Round are very important, for rich as well as for poor. They address concerns common to us all. They are about better market access for Mexican agricultural products or textiles. Or better access for Danish maritime transport.

The World Bank has calculated that more free trade can lead to global benefits of up to 520 billion USD. More than half will go to the developing world.

In Cancun, the EU tried to pave the way with an offer on agriculture. We were ready to stop all EU export subsidies on products of particular importance to the developing world. Later in the conference, the EU gave in on other issues concerning investment and competition. Unfortunately we were quite alone. Our efforts did not lead to similar reactions from other WTO-members.

The difficult situation after Cancun puts pressure on all WTO members. On our side we will continue to look for flexibility. But negotiation is a two way street. Everyone must see what they can bring to the package. One of the ideas that the EU finds relevant is whether we can give more to the world’s poorest by distinguishing between developing countries according to income. We must leave no stone unturned to get the process back on track.

Not just in trade, the European Union is deeply involved, concerned and active in international affairs. The European Union is continuously becoming a more important political actor on the international stage. But it too needs to be reformed in order to adapt to the new world – not least the enlargement from 15 to 25 members less than six months from now.

In 2003, Denmark celebrates 30 years of membership of the EU - 30 years of remarkable economic development. Of course, this has not been achieved solely because of our membership of the EU. But I am convinced that our membership has contributed substantially to the growth and development of our nation.

And Denmark is not the only Member State with this experience. I am sure that the current generations of Spaniards, Portuguese and Irish are able to confirm that regional free trade and economic cooperation has boosted their economies to an even greater extent.

Today, the EU is about far more than economic cooperation. In the EU we have found ways of tackling a great variety of common challenges. We have developed common institutions and policies. And we have found ways to overcome differences and find common solutions. We have experienced two generations without war, on a continent that saw more bloodshed in the 20th century than any other part of the world.

During last year’s Danish presidency of the EU, negotiations with ten new member states were successfully concluded. It was an honour for me personally to chair the final and difficult negotiations. Enlarging the EU with new member states is our best guarantee for a Europe with political strength, with economic strength and with the power to make a difference in a troublesome world.

After the enlargement of the EU to 25 Member States, it is necessary to implement reforms in order to ensure the Union’s ability to make decisions, take action and secure efficiency. This is why the Member States of the EU have set out to write a constitutional treaty for the European Union – hopefully to be agreed by the end of this year.

Just as the EU offers us an opportunity to deal with common challenges within Europe, it also provides us with tools to deal with challenges in the wider world. Ideally, the EU should speak with one voice. One voice speaks louder on the international scene. However, it is hardly realistic to expect the Member States to surrender fully their national sovereignty in the areas of foreign, security and defence policy. But I have no doubt that you will hear a stronger European voice in world affairs in the future.

Seen from the perspective of a small country, it would in fact be an advantage if decisions on foreign and security policy were made in the Council of the EU. That would give us influence on areas which are today dominated, to a great extent, by the large countries. We are therefore interested in as common a policy as can be achieved.

The further development of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security policy does not aim to strengthen the EU at the expense of transatlantic co-operation. On the contrary.

We have a vital and obvious interest in close and strong co-operation between Europe and our partners across the Atlantic. The Western World is facing challenges these days that make it necessary for Europe to be able to stand on its own feet to a much higher degree than before and make its own contribution on the world stage. This is not only in our interest. It is also in the interest of the rest of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mexico is by its sheer size, population, economy and location a regional leader and an important international player. Particularly in the last few years, Mexico has taken steps to become more actively involved on the international arena. Not least on the important issues of democracy and human rights.

The Global Agreement between the EU and Mexico is another proof of Mexico’s integration into the global society. The agreement entered into force in 2000 and is an excellent example of a close partnership based on economic and political co-operation. It is a vehicle which can help Mexico to further diversify her external relations.

The Global Agreement includes agreements on free trade that will benefit both parties. The EU will gain access – free of tariffs – to the largest Latin American market. And it will place Mexico in a very privileged position as a point of entry to the world’s two main trading blocs – NAFTA and the EU. For the EU enhanced relations with Mexico are a key priority. We need each other as equal partners in all fields.

On top of free trade there is the regular political dialogue between the EU and Mexico. A dialogue that enables us to exchange views and positions on important issues - including democracy and human rights.

It is my sincere hope and firm belief that Mexico and Denmark will keep operating - and co-operating - actively within the framework of international institutions like the United Nations. Equally, it is my hope and belief that the strong ties between Mexico and the European Union will be strengthened even further.

The need for international co-operation is greater than ever. We, the Member States of these institutions, must take the lead and make sure that these changes are carried out to the benefit of all. That will be a key objective of Denmark when – hopefully – we take a seat at the Security Council in 2005-2006.

I have tried to present some of the Danish thoughts on challenges facing both your country and my country. Now I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.

Thank you.