They said it: Leaders at the UN, in their own words

Fiji's Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Lots of leaders saying lots of things about lots of topics — topics that matter to them, to their regions, to the world.

That’s what the speechmaking at the U.N. General Assembly invariably produces each year. And each year, certain enormous topics and certain louder voices dominate.

Here, The Associated Press takes the opposite approach and spotlights some thoughts you might not have heard — the voices of leaders speaking at the United Nations who might not have captured the headlines and the air time on Wednesday.


“This year we mark the 100th anniversary of the end of Work War I, which serves to remind us of the importance of the Balkans in the past, and how relevant they are in the present day. They have often been the source of conflicts and, to this day, the embers of some of them are still burning.”

— Boyko Borissov, prime minister of Bulgaria.


“Our people see the impact of climate change on their lives and livelihoods. Climate change is largely the consequence of actions of more developed countries, their carbon emissions and harmful lifestyles. Yet SIDS (Small Island Developing States) pay an unfair price. A price so high that, for many of us, climate change presents an existential threat.”

— Timothy Harris, prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis.


“I have been asked specifically why my government believes that it is a permanent peace this time? There is an African proverb that advises to look where you have slipped, because it is there you will find what made you fall. It is through a change of leaders’ attitude from entrenched positions that we have moved towards a reconciliatory and accommodating government of national unity.”

— Taban Deng Gai, first vice-president of South Sudan.


“We have had our experience with intolerance in Fiji. It was an ugly experience that corroded our trust in each other and our sense of who we are as a people. We must remember it so that we do not repeat it, and we will never stop working to keep it in our past.”

— Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji.


“We severely criticized those European countries that reject their responsibility in taking up their fair share of the burden. Those countries that call for unity when it comes to having rights, but see things differently when it comes to fulfilling responsibilities. The people of Greece, despite their difficulties, opened their arms to incoming migrants, showing the world what solidarity means.”

— Alexis Tsipras, prime minister of Greece.

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