Serbia minister to replace Qatar’s Nasser as UNGA head
NEW YORK SERBIA’s foreign minister was elected president of the UN General Assembly’s next session on Friday, a sign of his country’s rehabilitation on the world stage after the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
Vuk Jeremic, the first Serb to hold a top UN post, defeated Lithuania’s UN Ambassador Dalius Cekuolis by a vote of 99-85 on the first ballot after an intense behind-the-scenes campaign. There was one abstention and several absentees in the 193-member world body.
“A painful era has now come to an end,” Jeremic said. “Today our nation can proudly stand before the world again.” The one-year presidency of the General Assembly rotates among regions, and this was the first contested election since 1991. Usually, a region puts forward a single candidate, but this year Eastern Europe had two contenders.
It was not immediately clear whether Jeremic, 36, would be the youngest president of the General Assembly when he takes over from Nasser Abdulaziz al Nasser of Qatar on September 18 at the start of the 67th session.
Assembly spokeswoman Nihal Saad said there has been no research done but it is believed he will be the youngest.
Unlike the more powerful 15-member Security Council, whose decisions are legally binding, the General Assembly’s resolutions carry no legal force, but it is the world’s primary forum for debate. It adopts new treaties, controls the UN budget and decides how much each nation should contribute.
Jeremic told diplomats he viewed his election primarily as a tribute to the people of Serbia.
“We are a small developing country that belongs to no military alliance or political union,” Jeremic said. “It is therefore truly honoring to have received the confidence of so many nations from all over the world to preside over the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations.” Looking back at the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, he said the “ferocious internal strife, the ensuing devastation and fratricide left deep wounds in their wake.” Jeremic said Serbia, once the largest of Yugoslavia’s republics which became a UN member in 2000, has in the past few years offered “a hand of friendship and reconciliation” to its neighbours.
Jeremic, who has been foreign minister for the past five years, has been a frequent visitor to the United Nations, appearing before the UN Security Council on numerous occasions when it has taken up Kosovo.