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UN taps Turkish diplomat for General Assembly chief

Volkan Bozkir becomes first Turkish national to head General Assembly ahead of historic meeting

Michael Hernandez   | 17.06.2020
UN taps Turkish diplomat for General Assembly chief


The UN General Assembly elected Wednesday former Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir to be its president ahead of the 75th General Debate in September. 

In a secret ballot vote Bozkir, 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," Bozkir 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."

Bozkir is currently a Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmaker from Istanbul and head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

He was elected to the Turkish legislature in 2011 following nearly 40 years in the foreign service that included posts in Stuttgart, Germany; Baghdad; New York and Bucharest, Romania. 

He also served as Turkey's Minister of European Affairs and Chief Negotiator. 

Bozkir is the first Turkish national to head the General Assembly. He will take office in September and hold the post for one year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally declared Ambassador Bozkir’s candidacy in his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 17.

This year he will lead the annual forum as its prepares to convene in some virtual form for the first time in the UN'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.

Current General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande told reporters last Monday, "World leaders cannot come to New York because they cannot come simply as individuals," referring to the large entourages that accompany them.

Muhammad-Bande said he hopes to clarify in the next two weeks how the General Debate will take place. 

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