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Ban Ki-Moon: I am willing to take any measures for human rights

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon discusses intervention in Libya, the situation in Yemen and Syria, and the argument between Bahrain and Iran. He reiterates Israel's human rights violations and the importance of the peace process. He speaks finally of his hopes for the Arab region.

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Ban Ki-Moon: I have been consulting and talking to almost all the leaders in the region. Sometimes it is known to the public and sometimes not known. But I really want to help them – the leaders – by speaking to them very genuinely, in a sincere manner. I am going to continue to do that. This is a part of the preventive diplomacy and facilitation that is gaining more priority within my administration.

International coalition will be successful in Libya

Dergham: Is this going to be an open-ended military operation in Libya?

Ban Ki-Moon: No, I don’t think that should be. First, Libya should stop fighting and end their hostilities.

Dergham: If they don’t?

Ban Ki-Moon: As long as they don’t, the no-fly zone and military operation should continue.

Dergham: Are you worried about the quagmire?

Ban Ki-Moon: I think this is different than other situations. I believe that the international coalition will have a successful operation.

Dergham: You mean in the short term? Do you think it will take a short time?

Ban Ki-Moon: That’s what I hope, and that’s what I understand the international coalition forces will do.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity

Dergham: What are your worries and hopes for the region?

Ban Ki-Moon: First of all, my own views have to be separated from my mandate as the secretary general.

I believe this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. I was one of the students who went out to the streets in Korea when I was young, asking for more freedom and bold reforms and changes. Then Korea achieved democratic development as well economic prosperity.

More than 20 years ago we saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the changes in Eastern Europe, then freedom and the market economy. Now we are seeing this sweeping wind of change across the Arab region. It is only natural that people’s wishes and aspirations should be realized by the leaders of the region.

As this wind of change blows, it is up to the leaders to seize this opportunity to look for the better future for their own people through bold reforms before it is too late, before [the people] are forced to take action.

People-powered democratic revolts - do they last?

We have seen what had happened in Tunisia and Egypt. Had the [leaders] taken earlier some fundamental and bold measures, they could have met the expectations of the people. So I am again hoping that there will be due changes, and there will be more freedom and more participation in democracy, and more prosperity in this part of the region.

© 2011 Global Viewpoint Network/Tribune Media Services. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.

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