UN picks Turkish diplomat for General Assembly presidency

UN picks Turkish diplomat for General Assembly presidency

UN picks Turkish diplomat for General Assembly presidency

The U.N. General Assembly elected on June 17 former Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkır to be its president ahead of the 75th General Debate in September. 

In a secret ballot vote Bozkır, who was unopposed for the post, received 178 ballots in support as 11 nations abstained. 

"I am thankful to all UN member states, for electing me with an overwhelming majority, as the President of the 75th UN General Assembly," Bozkır said on Twitter. "As we mark the 75th anniversary of the UN, I will guide the efforts to contribute to international peace, in the challenging times we live in."

'Trust in Turkey won General Assembly helm'

Bozkır on June 18 credited international “trust and belief” in Turkey for his election.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Bozkır said: “My election to the presidency means the recognition of Turkey’s policies by all the countries of the world.”

Winning 178 votes in such a ballot was unprecedented for Turkey, Bozkır said.

“There was a great deal of support all over the world,” he added. “All of this is due to the trust in our country, the belief that we can do this job well,” Bozkır said.

Bozkır is currently an AKP lawmaker from Istanbul and head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

This year he will lead the annual forum as its prepares to convene in some virtual form for the first time in the U.N.'s 75-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

World leaders are usually 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. 

This year was supposed to be a particularly special gathering with the international body celebrating its 75th anniversary, but with the virus continuing to persist worldwide alternative measures are being adopted.

Bozkır an expert on EU affairs

A graduate of the Faculty of Law at Ankara University, Ambassador Volkan Bozkır has served in several posts at the Foreign Ministry, having an expertise in relations with the European Union. He was the vice-consul of the Turkish Consulate-General in Stuttgart, first secretary of the embassy in Baghdad, undersecretary of the Permanent Representation to the OECD, consul-general in New York, and an ambassador in Bucharest. He served at Turkey’s EU Permanent Representative in Brussels.

He also acted as a foreign policy advisor to the prime minister, deputy secretary-general for EU Affairs Ministry, deputy undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry responsible for EU affairs and secretary-general for EU Affairs Ministry.

He has been a member of parliament as an Istanbul deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 2011. He was appointed as EU affairs minister and chief negotiator during the 62nd government formed by then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and served two terms.

Bozkır also has been serving as chair of the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Parliament since 2017.

He has been rewarded the Order of the Star of Romania and Order of the Merit of the Italian Republic at the “Knight” rank.

Erdoğan, Turkey's UN ambassador talk by phone

Erdoğan spoke by phone on June 17 with Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Feridun Sinirlioğlu, offering
his congratulations for the election of Volkan Bozkır.

The president wished that the election will be auspicious for all.

"The efforts did not go in vain,” he said, referring to Turkey’s bid for the presidency of the U.N. General Assembly. I congratulate you all and hope it will all be better from now.”

Also present during the phone call were Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Bozkır.

Foreign Ministry congratulates Bozkır

“Elected by the full support from the overwhelming majority of U.N. Member States, Ambassador Bozkir is expected to take office as the President of the 75th U.N. General Assembly on 15 September 2020 for a duration of one year," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It was emphasized in the statement that a Turkish citizen will hereby undertake this highest-ranking position within the U.N. system for the first time in the history of the organization.