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Denmark's Lykketoft faces new milestone with UN post

Former Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft tells Anadolu Agency he is 'looking forward to the challenge' of UN General Assembly presidency

28.11.2014
Denmark's Lykketoft faces new milestone with UN post

By Tommy Hansen

COPENHAGEN 

With the recent announcement that former Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft has been appointed to be the next President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the UN is about to embrace a leader with extensive international experience – and a good deal of temperament.

When Lykketoft enters the doors of the UN-building in New York as the new President of the UN's General Assembly (UNGA) in September next year, the leadership will be in very experienced hands.

Currently, Lykketoft is Speaker of the Danish Parliament, after spending decades in politics at both national and international level.

His competence is as well-known as his sharp opinions, which Lykketoft is renowned for.

He regularly engages wholeheartedly on subjects without condition and, throughout the years, his opinions have often been delivered with a fair amount of temper, something he had to address in his opening speech as Speaker of the Danish Parliament in 2011.

Open criticism

Lykketoft told the members of parliament present: "I hope that I can carry out the task with the necessary thoughtfulness, the necessary amount of humor and only the absolutely necessary level of temperament."

His comments were greeted with laughter and applause.

He repeatedly criticized Israel's policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict during his time as Foreign Minister and, although a Social Democrat, he openly criticizes the government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt whenever he sees fit. 

Being silent is not an often-used option for Mogens Lykketoft.

However, he is recognized as a skilled negotiator and is known to be the mastermind or at least a heavy player in and behind numerous settlements in the political scene in Denmark. 

”At least, I have practiced negotiation in many contexts for many years. So, definitely, I have some experience in this field," Lykketoft tells Anadolu Agency.

"In the UN, a lot of different interests have to be bent towards one another and, in this sense, it will probably be one of the most challenging posts of my life, and I am looking very much forward to cooperating with the current President, Sam Kahamba Kutesa, in the transition process," he said.

TV outburst

In the UN, all procedure is politics – and the other way around, Lykketoft explained.

"One cannot separate the two things," he said.

He has been a part of the political scene in Denmark for decades, and a Social Democrat since the mid-1960s.

With a Master of Science in economics from the University of Copenhagen, he was Head of Department at the Economic Council of the Danish Labour Movement from 1975 to 1981.

His parliamentary career includes posts as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Finance and Minister for Taxation and, since 1965, he has held several posts within the Social Democracy and Labor movement.

His temperament was shown in a television documentary entitled Lykketoft Finale, where he was followed by a film crew leading up to his attempt to become Prime Minister in 2005.

In one scene, he was due to meet the then-Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson, in a Danish kindergarten.

But when the scene could not be produced because of technical problems, he exploded at the rolling cameras: "Never more! I'll never do it again. Never!"

Parliamentary run

Lykketoft was first nominated to the position in the UN by the Danish government in 2013.

Officially, the President of the United Nations General Assembly is the individual who represents the UN and leads the General Assembly during meetings.

The position rotates annually between member countries throughout the different continents. 

After his period in office at the UN from September 2015 to September 2016, Lykketoft is expected to return to Danish politics and run for parliament.

Throughout the years, Lykketoft has held the posts of Foreign Policy spokesman, political spokesman, Economic and Political Affairs spokesman as well as Finance Policy spokesman.

He was Vice-chairman of the Danish Foreign Policy Committee from 2009 to 2011.

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