Kosovo warns against Serbia’s candidate for UN Secretary General

Former Serbian foreign minister, Vuk Jeremić, is one of 12 candidates running to succeed Ban Ki-moon. [Wikimedia]

Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, but is still unrecognised by Belgrade, has warned against the candidacy of Vuk Jeremić, a former Serbian foreign minister, for UN Secretary General.

Protestors in Kosovo’s capital Pristina on Saturday (27 August) called Jeremić “the biggest anti-Albanian politician” and said that their country’s candidacy for UN membership would be blocked for 10 years should the Serbian politician get the job.

Jeremić served as foreign minister between 2007 and 2012 and was President of the UN General Assembly between September 2012 and September 2013. Born in 1975, he is the youngest politician having served in this capacity.

Following Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February 2008, Jeremić began campaigning against the self-proclaimed state’s integration into the international community. In his five years in office, Jeremić boarded 1,000 flights and visited over 100 countries, remarking that he “pretty much knew 90% of the world’s foreign ministers”.

BIRN, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, quoted activist Jeta Berisha, who said that all political parties in Kosovo supported the protest.

On 10 August, Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj told BIRN that Jeremić should not get the job, claiming the Serbian diplomat is not committed to peace.

Hoxhaj said that Jeremić was “the most inappropriate candidate” for the job, and claimed the Serb did not have the “peaceful character” that a UN Secretary-General should have.

“As Serbia’s foreign minister, Jeremić lobbied against the international recognition of Kosovo and objected to American and European policy in Kosovo,” Hoxhaj said.

“His destructive positions made him the most inappropriate candidate to move forward the UN doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect’ and peaceful resolution of conflicts which this organisation promotes,” he added.

A second protest is expected on 3 September.

In the two straw polls held on 21 July and on 5 August, Jeremić ranked respectively fourth and second. A third straw poll, in which the 15 members of the UN Security Council vote anonymously, will be held today (29 August).

Four Europeans lead in race for UN Secretary-General

Portugal’s António Guterres, Slovenia’s Danilo Türk, Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova and Serbia’s Vuk Jeremić have emerged as the frontrunners in a race to replace UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose second term expires on 31 December.

In the vote, the UN Security Council members have three options: to encourage, discourage or express no opinion on any of the 12 candidates [see list of the candidates]. Diplomats say that the third vote aims at discouraging a majority of the candidates, so that horse-trading could begin on a smaller number of names.

The five permanent members of the Security Council (USA, Russia, China, UK and France) have veto right, but at this stage they are not making use of it. The procedure is expected to continue later in the year. Ban Ki-moon’s term expires on 31 December.

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