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Unity vital to world’s future, UN chief says

Global leaders speak of progress, integration and jobs in speeches

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for nations to walk the path of unity in 2018 to overcome the challenges facing world peace, as he joined global leaders in delivering New Year’s messages.

“Unity is the path. Our future depends on it,” he said on Sunday, when he urged leaders to “narrow the gaps, bridge the divides, (and) rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals”.

Recalling that last year he called for 2017 to be a “year for peace”, the UN chief said unfortunately, in fundamental ways, the world had gone in reverse.

Perils have emerged, such as deepening conflicts and new dangers, while global concerns over nuclear weapons are at their highest since the Cold War, Guterres said.

“Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise,” he warned, adding that 2017 also saw the effects of climate change worsen at an alarming rate, growth in inequality, and horrific violations of human rights.

In contrast, United States President Donald Trump predicted 2018 would be a “tremendous year” in a video message. “What a year it’s been, and we’re just getting started,” he said. “Together, we are making America great again”.

Vladimir Putin, who will seek a fourth term as Russia’s president in this year’s election, wished his compatriots “changes for the better” in his traditional televised New Year’s address.

He also thanked the people for “believing in themselves and in our country”, and wished “peace and prosperity to our great Russia, the dear and only one”.

In the European Union, French and German leaders called for intensified cooperation within the EU bloc in their speeches, while Italy’s president focused on domestic unemployment.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged citizens to end “irreconcilable divisions “in 2018. He reaffirmed that he was “committed to Europe” and deeply believes that “Europe is good for France”.

He called on his countrymen to participate in citizen consultations to make Europe “more sovereign, more united and more democratic”.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, also vowed to form a stable government and work with France in furthering the European integration process.

“It will be about whether we Europeans in the global and digital world express our values in solidarity and self-assurance, both internally and externally,” she said, “and whether we work for an economically successful and fair Europe and consequently for the protection of our external borders as well as for the security of European citizens.

Merkel added that Germany and France “want to work together to make this happen, and thus help make Europe fit for the future”.

President Sergio Mattarella of Italy urged political parties to make realistic proposals to tackle nationwide problems, especially the large number of people out of work, during his traditional year-end speech.

Italy is the eurozone’s third-largest economy, but unemployment remains above 11 percent, while youth unemployment is about 35 percent.

“Yet again, I must underscore that jobs remain the primary and most serious social issue, especially for the young,” Mattarella said.

Source: China Daily

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