Speech of the Prime Minister at the press stakeout with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Cher Secrétaire-Général,
Cher António,

Tout d'abord, bienvenue à Bruxelles, bienvenue en Belgique. Merci aussi pour la bonne conversation que nous venons d'avoir avec vous et votre team.

First, let me take this occasion to congratulate you with your second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Your first term has been characterized by lots of turbulence and turmoil. With profound discussions on the future of multilateralism and a global pandemic that has tested the limits of international cooperation.

Yet, friends and foes agree, that you have shown yourself a skillful navigator and a principled leader, never losing sight of the fundamental values enshrined in the UN Charter.

These values – peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance, and solidarity – have never been more topical than today. This global pandemic has taught us that collective action is the only way forward.

We are very much looking forward to working with you to strengthen multilateralism and to make it more effective.

For Belgium, multilateralism is a conscious choice. As one of the founding fathers of the United Nations, international cooperation is in our DNA.

That’s what we have shown during his pandemic. By rejecting vaccine nationalism and choosing to produce vaccines for the rest of the world, and actually, also exporting them. But evenso, through our continued humanitarian relief efforts, with substantial support for UN agencies such as OCHA and UNHCR.

Secondly, it is important to realize that this pandemic is far from over. Yes, Belgium and other European countries are exiting a period of strict containment measures. But in other countries vaccination efforts are far behind.

So it is of crucial importance that we boost global vaccine production. Belgium, as one of the vaccine powerhouses of the world, will continue to play an important role in this. We urgently need to get vaccines out to every part of the world. The faster we do so, the stronger will be the recovery.

This brings me to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Yesterday, we officially launched, together with the European Commission, unprecedented Belgian recovery plans to strengthen our economy, making it greener, more digital and more inclusive. We’ll need the same ambition internationally and design a global recovery plan. This pandemic has increased inequalities between countries. Within countries, it has hit the most vulnerable the hardest. For the first time in twenty years extreme poverty is on the rise again. We need to reverse this trend.

And we will only be able to do so through increased international cooperation and rapidly repairing damages to development gains.

My third and last point, climate change. In November, we will gather in Glasgow for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference. Belgium will continue its international climate financing efforts to support the most vulnerable countries in their adaptation and mitigation efforts.