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Separatism often a "wasteful and unimaginative" way to solve problems: Annan

News and Press Release
Originally published
Breaking up large States into small ones is often a "wasteful and unimaginative way" of solving political difficulties, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told an audience in Indonesia Wednesday.
"But those who oppose separatism have got to show that their solution is less wasteful and more imaginative. Minorities have got to be convinced that the state really belongs to them, as well as to the majority," Mr. Annan said in a speech to the Indonesian Council of World Affairs on the theme 'Unity in Diversity,' the country's official motto.

"I cannot think of a better motto for the world as a whole -- and particularly for our United Nations," the Secretary-General added.

Mr. Annan had begun the second and final day of his official visit to Indonesia by meeting Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono to discuss the Jakarta Government's follow-up to its own inquiry into the violence in Indonesia, and the question of refugees in West Timor.

Mr. Annan later met President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, with whom he discussed democratic change in Indonesia, the effort to bring those responsible for the violence in East Timor to trial, the unrest in Aceh and the Moluccas, and plans for economic reform.

Speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-General said that the Government of Indonesia had given him a clear impression that it was committed to economic and political reform, and reiterated the UN's pledge to help the country with its efforts.

"I think the signs are all around us, and serious efforts are being made to transform society," Mr. Annan said.

The Secretary-General noted that for the first time in many decades, the civilian authority over the military had been asserted in Indonesia, "as in any normal democratic society" and that this was an important development.

"Any major transformation of the kind we are witnessing is going to take time," he added. "And we need to be patient and not look for rapid results overnight. I think with that spirit and that support, the changes that President Wahid and his Government are trying to bring about will succeed."

During their discussions, Mr. Annan and President Wahid also decided to use the UN Conference on Trade and Development to help find new frameworks of cooperation with the UN.