PM calls for war on poverty and despair

Addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time as Portugal’s Prime Minister, Pedro Santana Lopes has saluted the organisation’s role in the fight against global terror, but he also called on the developed world to alleviate poverty, which, he said, creates a breeding ground for violence in the hardest hit areas.

“Portugal understands that the UN plays a decisive role in the articulation of a global strategy against terrorism. It is a strategy that has to address not only obvious issues of national security, but also other potential generators of violence,” added the Portuguese leader in his address to the 59th meeting of the UN’s General Assembly in New York.

He urged members to unite: “We must be firm in our battle against terrorism. But we must do so collectively,” he said. He made it clear that he believed the revival of the Middle East peace process was vital, considering the current status quo unacceptable. Lopes also declared his opposition to the new wall in Israel and called for dialogue between the warring parties. “Israel and Palestine will have to co-exist in peace and security inside internationally recognised frontiers and without artificial divisions,” he declared. But, perhaps a little more controversially, Santana Lopes also said the other underlying causes of terrorism could not be disregarded. “Hunger and poverty generate despair and place human beings at the mercy of temptations that lead them to violence,” he said. He made it clear that, in his view, the economic development of the poor “will only be lasting if we truly respect the equilibrium of the planet and if the conclusions from Quioto (regarding limits on the emissions of greenhouse gases) are implemented.” The Quioto protocol was not ratified by various nations, including the United States.