Race For UN Secretary General Drenched By Former Yugoslavia

UN Assembly 13 April 2016 Hearing what Secretary General candidates have to say UN Photo/ Rick Bojornas

UN Assembly 13 April 2016
Hearing what Secretary General candidates
have to say
UN Photo/ Rick Bojornas

The UN Secretary General candidature basket seems to be overflowing with candidates from most states of former Yugoslavia (that communist contraption that broke apart in 1990’s) – five (out of six), in fact: Danilo Turk, former President of Slovenia and former UN Assistant Secretary General; Igor Luksic, Montenegro’s Foreign Minister; Vesna Pusic, former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, Vuk Jeremic, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, former President of UN General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Macedonia and former president of UN General Assembly. The only one missing from this former Yugoslavia club of UN Sec-Gen hopefuls is a candidate from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The United Nations member states sat for three days last week at the East River headquarters and didn’t hesitate in giving the nine official candidates vying for the position of U.N. chief their toughest job interview to date. In the three-day publicly broadcasted informal dialogues, the nine secretary-general candidates answered approximately 800 questions collectively, according to the 1 for 7 Billion Campaign — ranging from their would-be policy concerning the alleged sexual abuse cases within the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations to concrete reform plans for the secretariat they’re hoping to lead.



This was a radical departure from how things were done previously. For the past 70 years, the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States) pretty much picked the Secretary General behind closed doors. Given the strong push for a woman to finally lead the UNO and especially from Eastern Europe – wagging tongues whisper – all male candidates noticeably padded their “women’s platforms” with tired old promises of more women representation in key UN positions, some including appointing a woman as their deputy secretary-general and, wouldn’t you know it: Serbia’s Vuk Jeremic even said he would be only too happy to name his selection (woman) ahead of elections! Oh dear, pity nobody asked him to show there and then how many women deputies he had in his past high positions in Serbia and the UN itself (General Assembly)! Jeremic said that a “revitalized United Nations” should be the “centrepiece of global governance” under the leadership of the Secretary General – using big words without really saying what he means; political drivel of a high order.

Vuk Jeremic

Vuk Jeremic


In an attempt to mitigate their disadvantage on the score that a woman should be the next Secretary General, Igor Luksic of Montenegro promised to appoint a female deputy. Danilo Turk of Slovenia made the argument that geographic fairness was as important as gender equality.

Vesna Pusic

Vesna Pusic

As the incoming Croatian government would have never nominated her, Vesna Pusic was quick to secure a “last minute in office” nomination by the outgoing former government, which was loaded with communist undertones and appalling organisational skills or results. Yet she had the gall to say at East River last week that the first priority for the new UN Secretary-General should be “to make the organization work.” So let’s suppose that the UNO does not work (which I think is a wrong supposition) – judging by her previous performance in high positions of governance, she would not know how to make an organisation work if a solution bit her on the buttocks. She was Deputy-Prime Minister of Croatia that saw hugely gaping divisions and despair in society Croatia had not seen for decades! She could not make modern and democratic Croatia work, how could she even think that she could make the UNO work!


Vesna Pusic said that her native country Croatia, had managed the transition from war to a stable peace, following the Balkan wars of the 1990s, thanks in part to the UN. Yes, but she failed to say that she personally and her political parties walked out of the Croatian Parliament and refused to fight for democracy as opposed to communism in Croatia. No wonder Croatia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko said last Sunday 17 April that “Vesna Pusic is not their choice for the UN Secretary General candidate and that he personally would never vote for her but that she will have access to technical support of the government,” such as access to diplomatic missions’ buildings etc., while Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said that his government “will not obstruct her candidacy” and in such a way this may be construed as support.
Saudi Arabia representative was quick to address Vesna Pusic after she shared her views on LGBT rights, highlighting her supposed “attitude” toward the U.N. as an institution and to its members, and cautioned her against “any attempt for the imposition of social values that are not internationally accepted, and that are not commonly recognized on the entire system.” Pusic, after taking a deep breath, argued she has never in her 63 years of existence seen an organization or individual not flawed, adding later that her knowing and acknowledging these flaws makes her even more qualified for the job.



Oh dear, what a misguided fool!


Igor Luksic

Igor Luksic

Igor Luksic from Montenegro stressed the importance of promoting women in top U.N. posts and said if the secretary-general is from a country in the developed north, the deputy secretary-general should be from the developing south. And he proposed that the deputy secretary-general be based in Nairobi to focus on implementing the new U.N. goals for 2030 to tackle poverty and preserve the environment as well as key regional issues.

Danilo Türk Photo: Daniel Novakovic/STA

Danilo Türk
Photo: Daniel Novakovic/STA

Danilo Turk’s, from Slovenia, priorities for the UN Secretary General are security issues in crisis areas in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. Attention should also be devoted to sustainable development and support services, which are responsible for the implementation of the set goals. He also suggested faster appointment of new personnel in the UN, especially when it comes to field work, and simplify the procedure for adopting the budget. A practical vision including that there should be a global framework for dealing with refugee crisis.

Srgjan Kerim Photo: AP Photo/ Bebeto Matthews

Srgjan Kerim
Photo: AP Photo/ Bebeto Matthews

Srgjan Kerim, a former Macedonian foreign minister and ex-General Assembly president, stressed the importance of following the unwritten rule of rotation, saying Thursday 14 April it maintains “mutual trust” and promotes needed unity at a time the world is facing many crises.


Other candidates so far are:





Irina Bokova, Former Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria; current Director-General of UNESCO

Irina Bokova,
Former Acting Minister of
Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria;
current Director-General of UNESCO



Natalia Gherman, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova, former Acting Prime Minister of Moldova

Natalia Gherman,
former Minister of Foreign
Affairs and European Integration of Moldova,
Acting Prime Minister of Moldova


Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, current Administrator of the UN Development Program

Helen Clark,
former Prime Minister of New Zealand,
current Administrator of
the UN Development Program



António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees

António Guterres,
former Prime Minister of Portugal,
former UN High Commissioner for Refugees


Despite the wide range of topics discussed during the dialogues last week, certain subjects were barely mentioned, or perhaps avoided. Syria and what a candidate proposes to do about it if he/she became the Secretary General was, for example, not floated as a question at all. Odd! Really odd given the millions of refugees out of Syria flooding Turkey, Lebanon and Europe…given the well of Islamic terrorist furor spreading into the world from there. July 2016 is the time we may expect to know which candidate has been selected and while there may be more candidates to come  I sincerely trust (and I count, if for nothing else, then because my taxes contribute to the UN membership fees my country pays into the UN coffers) the selected will not be Vesna Pusic or Vuk Jeremic. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

A Croatian To Compete For The UN Secretary-General Position

Croatian candidate for UN Secretary General

The wheels are reeling fast towards the day, in about a year, when the world will know who is replacing Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary-General. The race to succeed Ban Ki-moon is well under way as possible candidates line up through the media and political analysts – as potential candidates and the selection process fill the agenda of intense debates. The 2016 appointment will come during these times of the agitating and concerning resurfacing of tensions between East and West – this time over Syria and Ukraine (in particular); in the days many see as cementing a new Cold War between Russia and the West and these tensions continue creating the most difficult challenges the UN has had to face and deal with in more than a generation.

There is no avoiding it: the UN Secretary-General election process, and UN workings generally, will more likely than not become functionally gridlocked by Cold War-style divisions, backroom Cold War-style “deals” and “innuendos” with more far-reaching consequences than just some political tittle-tattle that gets someone’s “nose out of joint” for a day or so. So to keep the gridlock at bay the UN will need someone with real diplomatic skills at its helm. A smooth consensus between member states as to who that candidate might be, appears most unlikely – much suspicion and animosity rises and is likely to rise in this Cold War-style atmosphere.
When Ban Ki-moon’s time in office comes to an end next December, the world could be looking at two firsts in the new UN secretary-general: the first to come from Eastern Europe, and the first woman in the post,” wrote Andrew Macdowall, a Serbia based correspondent and analyst, for the UK Independent on 30 May 2015 as he conducted an interview with Croatia’s foreign minister Vesna Pusic, who has now declared that she will be running for the UN Secretary-General position in 2016.
In this interview Vesna Pusic expressed the belief that her experience of post-war politics has been important training for the UN!
Maybe it’s too much to expect that a secretary-general can change countries,” she said. “But it helps a great deal if she can understand and know how it feels when talking to people in a country, or confronting a situation in a country before or during a conflict.”


Give me a break! Give me a break!


Vesna Pusic’s post-war political input in Croatia as well as across the former Yugoslavia region is very much coloured by her incompetence and bias that leads to raised divisions among people as well as between former states of Yugoslavia, for which she, as foreign minister, was charged to move towards reconciliation. Through her lack of compassion and shallow or rather skewed political insight into defining issues of problematic matters, she has made staunch enemies of Croatian women who are victims of war crime of rape. She has managed to alienate many people and even a brief online search easily indicates that she is not widely regarded as a person who appeals for their strength, political and diplomatic competence. She has been criticised by the victims of the “conflict” in Croatia for not understanding their plights and justice for crimes and yet, here she is talking herself up about her ability to understand victims of conflict!


Give me a break! Give me a break!


It’s a curious thing that Andrew Macdowall, in his interview of Vesna Pusic for The Independent, blatantly suggests that Irina Bokova’s “family ties to the communist-era elite may act against her” (in her UNSG candidacy) and yet completely omits to make any references of the same weight to Vesna Pusic’s “family ties” – given he writes about Bokova’s ties to communism why not write about Pusic’s?! Vesna Pusic’s father was a high-ranking official in communist regime of Yugoslavia that left hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths.

A UN secretary-general candidate must be seen as P-5 ‘compatible’ and Vesna Pusic is certainly facing an uphill battle in this if she does put her hand up for the position. China, Russia, France, UK, USA consultations have in the past three decades proved to be a watered down compromise and 2016 is likely to prove anything but the likeness of preceding decades. Compromises are likely not to be made with same relative ease as before and the common denominator across P-5 that will draw victory for the UNSG candidate cannot be predicted at this stage with much certainty but it is likely to be connected to issues underpinning the current tensions between East and West. There is the reality of Cold War-style tension and content and political pull that will make the 2016 choice all the more tricky and unpredictable.
If there really is a strong preference for an Eastern European UN Secretary-General the front-runner seems to be, after all, Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian diplomat and the current Director-General of UNESCO. She has received the nomination of Bulgaria, she is US and Russia ‘compatible’, speaks French and is UN literate. Other possible candidates from Eastern Europe besides her and Croatia’s Vesna Pusic are Vuk Jeremic of Serbia, Miroslav Lajcák and Jan Kubis of Slovakia, and Danilo Turk, the former president of Slovenia and international law professor, who served between 2000 and 2005 as UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, one of the organisation’s key jobs.

If one cannot be elected from Eastern Europe for whatever reason, but I have a hunch it’ll justifiably have something to do with resharpened Cold War knives and old die-hard communist ties that still ominously linger, despite the fact that some will say they don’t, then the field will open up to candidates from all regional groupings. In that event candidates are likely to include Australia’s former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who currently heads the UN Development Programme, she has the support of New Zealand, Romano Prodi of Italy, José Manuel Barroso of Portugal, and Dilma Roussef of Brazil.
Come 2016 and UN Secretary-General elections we will see perhaps like never before battles about deep alignments between Moscow and Washington. Moscow and Washington will very likely view candidates as being on the wrong or the right side of the modern-day iron curtain.
Certainly, the world does not need Croatia’s Vesna Pusic a UN Secretary-General – she is inclined to believe that people feel they don’t know the UN, just like she evidently doesn’t know it:
People feel that the UN isn’t known to them; it’s very abstract, out there in New York, and [then] at times of crisis there are blue helmets that drive through your country. [A debate] would make the institution more acceptable and known to the global general public,” she said in her interview for The Independent.

There’s nothing abstract about the UN to most of us, I don’t think. There’s a lot we don’t like about it but also a lot that is good about it. It could shed itself, though, of politically ambitious people who have notable connections but know little of true relevance and feel – even less. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: