L'Holocauste occupe une place unique dans l'histoire des Nations Unies, affirme Kofi Annan à Jérusalem - Centre d'actualités de l'ONU Français
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"A United Nations that fails to be at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism denies its history and undermines its future," he said at the inauguration of the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem in the ancient biblical city.
"That obligation binds us to the Jewish people, and to the State of Israel, which rose, like the United Nations itself, from the ashes of the Holocaust. And it binds us to all people who have been, or may be, threatened with a similar fate. The United Nations must remain eternally vigilant," he added.
"Our global mission of peace, freedom and human dignity was literally forged in fire – in fact the most awful fires humankind has ever seen," he told the assembled dignitaries at the ceremony presided over by Israeli President Moshe Katsav.
"Let this museum stand as testimony that we are striving for a better way. Let Yad Vashem inspire us to keep striving, as long as the darkest dark stalks the face of the earth."
Mr. Annan, who been discussing Middle East peace moves with Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the past three days, met today with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, telling reporters afterwards that he was encouraged by what he had heard and seen.
"And I can assure you that the international community and we, the members of the Quartet, are determined to work with you and ensure that this peace process leads to the objectives we all are seeking so desperately," he said.
The diplomatic Quartet – UN, European Union, Russia and United States – is sponsoring the Road Map peace plan that calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to take parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two states living side by side in peace, originally by the end of 2005.
Mr. Annan was asked how, as a member of the Quartet, the UN felt about Israel's taking unilateral steps on final status issues, such as determining the route of a separation barrier around Jerusalem.
"As a member of the Quartet and as part of the group that is working with the parties to find a solution, we have indicated that we encourage all parties to avoid creating facts on the ground that may make a solution difficult," he replied.
After a meeting with President Katsav last night Mr. Annan was asked his opinion on the fact that more than 60 years after the Holocaust, there is one state that declares openly that it wants to destroy Israel – Iran.
"I think I believe that every Member State of the United Nations has a right, not only to exist but also to manage its own affairs," he replied. "And both Israel and Iran are members of the Organization and I hope that they will respect each other's rights."
Also today, Mr. Annan had a bilateral meeting with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
In a separate program this morning, Nane Annan visited the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Centre, which provides new immigrants from Ethiopia with housing, health care, Hebrew classes and pre-school day care. She was accompanied by Judith Nir-Moses Shalom, the wife of the Israeli Foreign Minister.
Yesterday, Ms. Annan visited the Ramallah Women's Training Centre for Palestinian refugee women, widely considered one of the Arab world's foremost teacher education and vocational training institutes for women.