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Russia backs ‘woman from Eastern Europe’ for UN chief

Global Europe

Russia backs ‘woman from Eastern Europe’ for UN chief

Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the UN, believes it is time for Eastern Europe to head up the UN, and would like to see a woman in the post.


Russia said yesterday (3 October) that it would like to see a woman as the next UN secretary general and would back a candidate from Eastern Europe.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, whose country holds the Security Council presidency this month, also said a formal vote to pick a successor to Ban Ki-moon could happen soon.

“We do believe that it is the turn of Eastern Europe to provide the next secretary general,” Churkin told a news conference, adding: “We would very much like to see a woman.”

His comments came less than a week after Bulgaria switched candidates for the position, putting forward Kristalina Georgieva, the European budget commissioner and a former World Bank vice president.

Breaking: Borissov nominates Georgieva for UN top job

The Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov today (28 September) nominated Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva to be his country’s candidate to run for the post of UN Secretary-General.

Russia questions Bulgaria over new candidate for UN chief

Russia and three other Security Council members on Thursday (29 September) raised questions after Bulgaria formally presented European budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva as its candidate to be the next UN Secretary-General.

However, Irina Bokova, the initial Bulgarian candidate and UNESCO Director General, remained in the race in a private capacity.

Strictly speaking, there are three women from Eastern Europe in the race – Bokova, Georgieva and Moldova’s Natalia Gherman.

Georgieva, who took unpaid leave to campaign, appeared before the UN General Assembly yesterday, fielding questions over two hours on everything from the war in Syria to the refugee crisis and climate change.

The contest for UN chief will head into new territory tomorrow, when the five permanent council members – Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States – are set to vote using colored ballots to indicate whether the candidates would face a veto when the council moves to a formal vote.

Five straw polls so far have been held with white ballots.

Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres has been the frontrunner so far after taking the number-one spot in all five of the Security Council’s straw polls.

The Eastern European group is the only one that has not had a Secretary General so far (see background).

EU in pole position in race for UN Secretary General

A secret vote held yesterday (29 August) in the UN Security Council has put three candidates from EU countries in the lead in the race to replace UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose second term expires on 31 December.

According to UN tradition, the world is divided into regional groups. The Eastern European group comprises Russia, the countries of the former Soviet Union, and of the Soviet bloc, including all new EU members from Central and Eastern Europe and all the EU candidate countries except Turkey.

Portugal is part of the “Western European and Others” group, which also includes the US and Canada.

Churkin said there was “a good chance that a few days after” Wednesday’s straw poll, the council will formally vote to pick a nominee, who will then be presented to the General Assembly for approval.

The new secretary general will begin work on 1 January 2017.