February 2, 2016
Seventy years ago, the organization of United Nations was officially founded in San Francisco, the city I live in at this time. A few days ago, I went to see the mural commemorating this event in the city’s landmark cathedral, Grace Cathedral on California St. Painted by the Bolivian-American artist Antonio Sotomayor, the mural depicts all nations of the world coming together in the spirit of peace and cooperation.
The question as to whether, and to what extent, the U.N. activities in its seven-decade-long existence helped or hindered the sustenance of that spirit is the subject of many polemics in both the mainstream and alternative media and cannot be addressed in the short space of this article. However, it is indicative that those currently opposed to the U.S.-NATO global hegemony are increasingly pointing to the Charter of the United Nations as a valid starting point for the more just reconfiguration of global affairs. Such is, for instance, the view of the Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed in the documentary “World Order,” which was produced by the Russian state-controlled TV channel and aired at the end of December 2015. Putin explicitly linked the roots of the prevailing chaotic political and economic situation in many parts of the world to the U.S. and its allies’ open and blatant violation of the Charter in undertaking their military interventions, starting with NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Spring 1999.
It is interesting that both the current President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić and the Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić appeared in the documentary. This is something that will definitely cause the ire of the Washington Establishment, because the documentary gathered together many well-known critics of the U.S. foreign policy, such as the film director Oliver Stone and the Bundestag deputy Sahra Wagenknecht. The appearance of Vučić is all the more curious, considering that he is a good friend of the long-time U.S. deep state asset, Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Djukanović, and has recently become a protégé of the U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden. No doubt there will be a political price for Vučić to pay for this escapade, if, of course, he was not assigned the role of a double-agent, passing on to the Americans what the Russians tell him in confidence.
The brief appearance in the film is also made by the current Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, which is a sign that the Russian foreign policy circles consider the position of the Secretary-General important in their efforts to generate and codify new international rules of behavior for what they see as the emerging multi-polar world. Of course, even a cursory look at Ban’s almost ten years at the helm of the U.N. will reveal that he has favored the aims of the U.S.-NATO global hegemony. However, including him in the documentary signifies that the Russians intend to exert quite a lot of influence and pressure in the choice of his successor. In fact, not only the Russians, but also the elites of all the other BRICS countries (Brazil, China, India, and South Africa), will no doubt put their political and economic weight in play. In my opinion, this will be one of the key international political battles in the coming year.
Ban Ki-moon is the 8th U.N. Secretary-General since February 1946 when the Norwegian socialist politician Trygve Lie, a compromise candidate, was chosen for that post. Ban took office on January 1, 2007 and is now in the last year of his second five-year term. Needless to say, the process of choosing his successor has already begun behind the closed doors. In the past, the selection process was guided by regional considerations, though there are no written rules to that effect.
The only formal rule regarding the selection process is found in Chapter XV, Article 97 of the U.N. Charter and states that “the Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly [in which all 193 member states have one vote] upon the recommendation of the Security Council [which consists of 10 temporary members serving on a 2-year rotating basis and 5 permanent members with veto power – U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia, and China].” Early on in the U.N. history, it was decided that only one candidate would be recommended to the General Assembly and so far the recommended candidate has always been voted in.
It is important to note that the only region which has yet to have its representative as the U.N. Secretary-General is Eastern Europe. This makes the question in the title of this article worth asking and answering in detail. And, in fact, most candidates put forth by this time come from the Balkan states.
In addition, it is likely that the selection process this time around will also include the gender dimension. No woman has ever been appointed to this position and there is a growing number of voices in support of breaking the “glass-ceiling” in this respect as well.
One of the first Balkan politicians who declared his candidacy for this post was Vuk Jeremić, the Foreign Minister of Serbia from 2007 to 2012. At 32 years of age, he was one of the youngest foreign ministers in the history of diplomacy. The most challenging issue for the state of Serbia – the recognition of the autonomous province of Kosovo as an independent state by the U.S. and most EU countries – took place at the beginning of his term. Jeremić travelled to many African and Asian capitals in the effort to stop the wave of recognitions and many observers declare his mission a success for Serbian diplomacy. Even at this time, Kosovo is recognized by only about 60% of the world’s states and there is no Great Power consensus about its membership in the key international organizations.
In addition, Jeremić was successful in being elected the President of the U.N. General Assembly in June 2012 for an one-year term starting in September 2012 and ending in September 2013. In the vote by the General Assembly, he was able to defeat the Lithuanian diplomat Dalius Čekuolis, the U.S-NATO candidate for the post, in what one analyst called “a basketball score” – 99:85. Needless to say, this did not make Jeremić the friend of the hegemonists, but it definitely enhanced his reputation among the developing nations of the world. The representatives of these nations might potentiatially be his greatest allies in this candidacy as well.
It is important to note that Jeremić received the vote of Montenegro, was rejected by Croatia, while the representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina abstained from voting. This means that these three ex-Yugoslav republics, even 25 years after the bloody collapse of Yugoslavia, do not consider themselves to be on the same geopolitical page.
However, regardless of the international support it may have, Jeremić’s candidacy has recently hit a major roadblock. It appears likely that the government of Serbia will not endorse his candidacy, which makes him ineligible to run. In an interview several days ago, President Nikolić was explicit about that, while Prime Minister Vučić’s response was more nuanced, but still in the same general direction. The explanation for this is to be found in the Serbian domestic politics. Jeremić used to be a member of the opposition political party and is still an opposition member of the Parliament.
While Serbia has yet to endorse a candidate for the U.N. post, the neighboring Bulgaria has already endorsed Irina Bokova who has been the Director-General of UNESCO, the specialized U.N. agency for educational, scientific, and cultural matters, since 2009. Before being selected for this post, Bokova has held several influential positions in the Bulgarian foreign policy establishment. It is interesting that she graduated from Moscow State University for International Affairs [МГИМО], the premier Soviet school for diplomacy as well as the most fertile recruiting ground for both the KGB and the SVR [the Soviet internal and external intelligence agencies], but in the 1990s became a NATO fellow and attended Harvard’s JFK School of Government. In other words, it is very likely that Bokova is firmly enmeshed in the intelligence networks on both sides of the past and present Iron Curtain and this, in addition to the already time-tested globalist experience and commitments in her present post, in my opinion, makes her a possible winner. Obviously, she also brings in the needed gender dimension.
Still, there is one more candidate who is a very serious contender for the post. That candidate is Danilo Türk, the President of Slovenia from 2007 to 2012. He is a distinguished professor of international law and has already served in a high-level position at the U.N. He was Assistant U.N. Secretary-General for Political Affairs from 2000 to 2005 during the mandate of Kofi Anan. While in this position, Türk had made a lot of diplomatic contacts around the world and, at this time, it appears that he is able to garner the support of BRICS countries. He visited China last year and gave a long interview on CCTV. His statements sounded thoughtful and impartial, which is a rarity in the current polarized geopolitical climate, and I discerned many similarities with the non-aligned policies of the long-time Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. Türk was also the only male candidate mentioned by name in the recent NYT article on this topic.
There are also several other candidates from the Balkans, but these are more “vanity” candidacies and have no serious chance of getting any votes. The most laughable among them is the candidacy of the Foreign Minister of Montenegro, Igor Lukšić, one of the most corrupt players of the repressive Djukanović regime. As is already clear, he won’t get any support even from the countries bordering Montenegro, let alone from any others. This does not mean, however, that the corrupt regime will not spend a lot of Montenegrin taxpayers’ money on Lukšić’s fruitless lobbying excursions around the world.
So, to conclude, I think that there is a high degree of probability that the next U.N. Secretary-General will indeed come from the Balkans and that the Chinese support will be decisive if Türk is to prevail over the intelligence networks backing Bokova.
Originally published by Sibel Edmonds’ BFP, January 8, 2016.Kovacevic on Geopolitics