Blog Alexander De Croo from New York - 9/20
New York, 20 September 2017 – A refreshing and inspiring speech. An urgent plea for international cooperation and unity. A passionate call for more respect for human rights and for the rights of refugees. No, I am not talking about the very first speech of the American President Trump before the United Nations General Assembly. I am talking about the speech of the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In his opening address for the 72nd General Assembly Guterres treated all controversial issues we have to cope with as a global community : nuclear proliferation, terrorism, unsolved conflicts, climate change, inequality, the digital revolution and migration. However, while Trump was making a plea for destruction and urging division, the Secretary-General was calling for responsibility and peaceful solutions.
To that effect Guterres did not use a soft message or woolly discourse. On the contrary. He stated things clearly, which is the first step in achieving solutions, and he did so with an eloquence we haven’t seen for quite a long time in this context.
The contrast with Trump’s very first speech before the UN could not have been more marked. The American president started by a sample of American navel gazing, as if last year’s presidential campaign was still going on. What followed was a stale plea for the nation state with a hint of egoism and self-interest. Military muscle flexing and belligerent howling. As if brutality could bring peace and security within reach.
Trump proclaimed that the nation state is the best vehicle for improving our human existence. On the basis of such reasoning Europe would never have existed, we would not have seen 70 years of peace in Europe and it would be better to abolish the UN. Self-interest or sovereignty are not the key to achieving more human development and peace. On the contrary. What we need is more cooperation, more innovation, more shared commitment.
Will Belgium and Europe choose the path of Antonio Guterres? Or will they opt for Donald Trump? I have made my choice.