PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
15 September 2005
Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, announced at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon that his Government had granted an additional $24.5 million to the Palestinian Authority for capacity-building programmes within its jurisdiction. An initial $12.2 million in enhanced assistance aid had been promised in May 2005 following a visit to Canada from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas have demonstrated their commitment to building a future in which Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in peace and security”, said Mr. Martin. “The international community now has the responsibility to demonstrate a determination and resolve of its own.”
Of the two amounts that were announced, the earlier had been earmarked towards judicial reform and housing support. Upon Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, a move praised by Mr. Martin, the later amount was then given for training new teachers, improving the living conditions of refugees, fostering economic development and assisting coastal police to enhance maritime security.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Martin said he had met the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, and they had discussed a range of issues that included commercial relationships and investment between the two countries, the need to strengthen the Pakistani economy and the issue of security. Pakistan’s efforts in dealing with security issues, both outside and inside its borders had been significant, in particular its efforts in dealing with Al-Qaida. But its success should not lead to complacency on the part of other nations. Describing terrorism as a “global blight”, Mr. Martin emphasized that the world must work closely on this problem, and said that this topic featured in his conversation with President Musharraf as well.
Asked to respond to a statement relating to violence against women -– appearing in the local newspaper today and attributed to President Musharraf –- he said that such comments were unacceptable, and that he had expressed this view to the President. Protecting the security of a person was an important component of the United Nations philosophy on freedom. Statements condoning violence against women should be condemned and strong action taken against those who made them. During their conversation, President Musharraf denied having made the comments as they appeared in the paper, and said that Pakistan, too, felt strongly against violence against women and was doing what it could to address the issue.
Answering a question regarding steps by President Musharraf to open links with Israel, Mr. Martin said that anything that would lead to peace in the Middle East should be encouraged.
He also responded to questions regarding the High-Level Plenary Meeting’s outcome document, and whether he thought the 2005 World Summit was a failure. Mr. Martin said he felt some disappointment over events here, saying that Canada believed strongly in the United Nations and its need for reform. While he was pleased that the “Responsibility to Protect” was accepted as an essential part of the reform, failure by the Human Rights Council to operationalize its ideals would deprive the organization of credibility. Other issues that he hoped would be better dealt with in the year ahead were nuclear disarmament and proliferation and ways to fight terrorism.
When asked to provide his thoughts on why the Summit was disappointing, Mr. Martin replied that the disagreement between nations had gotten in the way of achieving the greater good. Canada had long advocated that smaller groups were able to bring issues forward to a point where larger groups had been unable to do so. He suggested that the idea of establishing an “L-20” along the lines of the “G-20” should be examined to improve the way in which discussions took place in the coming year.
Asked if he thought the Summit was too ambitious, he replied to the contrary saying that extensive reform was indeed called for. He was not prepared to see any aspect of the reform agenda abandoned. “The United Nations is too important not to seek to complete the reform agenda”, he said.
A question arose on the Canadian Government’s treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, with Mr. Martin’s conversation on human rights with President Hu Jintao of China in Ottawa earlier this September forming a backdrop to the question. The questioner described the “deportation” of a Falun Gong practitioner from Canada and her subsequent arrest upon arrival in China. Mr. Martin denied that a process of deportation existed for Falun Gong practitioners and said that the issue of human rights indeed had been raised with President Hu in two discussions. In those instances, he expressed Canada’s view to President Hu that there were to be no trade offs between human rights and commercial activity.
A questioner said that social programmes in Canada were in their worse state in 40 years, where over a quarter of a million people were homeless. Asked to react to this, Mr. Martin said that it was unacceptable for Canada, a wealthy country, to have the levels of poverty that existed there. But action taken in 1995 had resulted in Canada being the only Group of Eight country not to be in deficit today. In addition, it had one of the best job creation records from among this group within recent years and the Government had reinvested heavily in health and education programmes.
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For information media • not an official record
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