Washington, D.C., March 22, 2005 - U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, the most senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, told reporters during a press conference at the Voice of America (VOA) today that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is "the right person to deal with the very necessary and long overdue reforms of the United Nations."
Commenting on the comprehensive set of recommendations recently released by the United Nations, Lantos singled out for praise the Secretary-General's call to reform the U.N. Human Rights Commission, saying it "has become, over the years, a disgrace." He continued, "Some of its chairmen, over the years, have been the most oppressive, totalitarian, non-human rights respecting governments on the face of this planet." Lantos, a 24-year veteran Congressman from California, also told reporters gathered at VOA that many of the other recommendations make a lot of sense and "on the whole, the Secretary General deserves commendation and praise for courageously tackling many of the problems that have plagued this international organization."
In response to questions from VOA TV and radio affiliates regarding the final status of Kosovo, Lantos replied, "Kosovo is as ready for nationhood as have been scores of other nations, most of them members of the United Nations." He continued, "I fully anticipate Kosovo to emerge as an independent, sovereign nation within a very foreseeable future, which will have to accept its responsibility to provide full and equal rights to all of its citizens irrespective of their ethnic or religious background."
Lantos gave an upbeat assessment of the prospects for democracy throughout the world, including the Middle East, and Iran in particular, saying "There are few places on the face of this planet where the majority of the population is so palpably, so far ahead, of the leadership of the country than in Iran." Stating that Iran "represents one of the talented pool of men and women on this planet, most of whom are not in sync with the theocratic, medieval regime which attempts to suppress them," Lantos expressed hope that "the winds of freedom which have blown recently so strongly from Ukraine to Lebanon will reach Iran so the Iranian people will join this global movement towards increasing democratic, open, and free societies."
Lantos' appearance at a VOA Newsmaker Press Conference was broadcast live by the Voice of America via radio, television and Internet to audiences in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.
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