First Turk elected as president of UN General Assembly takes over office
Volkan Bozkır, elected as the chairperson of the United Nations General Assembly, has taken over the office after his predecessor Tijjani Muhammad-Band at a ceremony held at the U.N. Headquarters in New York.
It is the first time a Turk is the chairperson of the 75th General Assembly of the organization, which represents 193 countries of the world.
Bozkır, elected with the support of 178 countries, will be serving his term of office until September 2021.
One of the prominent roles of the chairperson of the U.N. General Assembly is to direct the sessions and regulate the functioning of the assembly.
The General Assembly determines and controls the budget of the U.N. every year.
This year, Bozkır will lead and convene the annual forum in some virtual form, which will be for the first time in the U.N.’s 75-year history, due to the pandemic.
World leaders usually are accompanied by large delegations as they convene in New York for the annual meetings, a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with fellow leaders from nations worldwide.
Bozkır was elected to the Turkish Parliament in 2011 following nearly 40 years in foreign service that included posts in Germany, Iraq, New York and Romania.
He has also served as Turkey’s chief negotiator and minister of European affairs.
Bozkır warns of pandemic unilateralism
Meanwhile, Bozkır is warning that unilateralism will only strengthen the COVID-19 pandemic and is calling for a new commitment to global cooperation including on the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.
Bozkır announced that the General Assembly will hold a high-level special session on the COVID-19 pandemic in early November, though diplomats said the date may slip.
Bozkır told diplomats from U.N. member nations, seated at socially distanced spaces in the assembly chamber, that “confronting the effects of the coronavirus in all their dimensions will be an overarching priority for my presidency.”
He said “no state can combat this pandemic alone,” and it is the members’ responsibility “to strengthen people’s faith in multilateral cooperation and international institutions, with the U.N. at their center.”