Sunday, June 4, 2017

At UN, As Guterres Meets Romania, Dreams of UNSC Seat, Erdogan's Orders, Censorship Continues

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 30 – When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres did aphoto op (Periscope here) and meeting with Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, it was part of Melescanu's campaign for his country to win a two year term on the UN Security Council, to follow its six-month rotating presidency of the European Council in first half of 2019 (for which it is seeking a bigger building in Brussels). Melescanu has most recently, in Istanbul, defended his country's delaying of Turkish basketball player Enes Kanter after he criticized ErdoganMelescanu will be in New York through June 3. Guterres, after yet another trip (this time for a G7 speech on Africa and technology with no mention of the Internet cut-off in Cameroon), was back in New York, NYU earlier in the day, then with an unscheduled or undisclosed meeting with a Security Council ambassador that ran past 7 pm. In the meeting with Melescanu were Tanguy Stehelin and Fabrizio Hochschild, among others. The UN's restrictions on the Press, unlike on never present Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom, continued. But on the 38th floor there was laughter. Last week Guterres met Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister and was given an oil painting; before that Guterres held a meeting with his senior management group since after a two week trip he is in New York for only three days, leaving tomorrow. At the appointed time for Azerbaijan, streaming out of Guterres' conference room were USg Jeff Feltman, Jean Pierre Lacroix who declined to answer Inner City Press' question about France's 20+ year rule of UN Peacekeeping, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Fabrizio Hochschild and others. Earlier on May 24 Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to "please state if a David J Vennett is now a/the principal advisor to the SG, if so why he is not in iSeek and how he was recruited and hired and, again, please provide a list of who works in / or the Executive Office of the Secretary General and whether they are paid by the UN, by a UN affiliate like UNOPS, or by a country and is so which." There was no answer. Dujarric announced, "Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be heading out of New York for Italy to attend the G-7 meeting. On Saturday, he will participate in the outreach session of the summit, which is taking place in Taormina.  The focus of the discussion will be "Innovation and Sustainable Development in Africa."  He will leave Taormina Saturday afternoon." Does it take from Thursday to Saturday to get to Italy? Is there a stop over on the way back? What was in Guterres' budget speech on May 24, a copy of which Inner City Press requested? Why was corrupt censor Cristina Gallach speaking in the General Assembly Hall on May 24, and why has her censorship continued, without hearing or appeal? Back on May 22 when Guterres metSlovenia's President Borut Pahor, it was Guterres first such meeting at UN Headquarters in two weeks. In his first 141 days, Guterres is often on the road, this time including London and China and Geneva, maybe Lisbon, while the promised reforms at the UN are still not easy to see. Pahor is running for re-election and was to host a reception later on May 22 for Slovenia's 25th anniversary in the UN, at the Intercontinental Barclays. The country's ambassadors at the UN and in Washington are set to change, the latter amid probably unfair criticism that First Lady Melania Trump's Slovenian roots have led at last to Slovenia distinguishing itself from Slovakia (which is set to take up the Presidency of the UN General Assembly in September). Guterres, too, needs to distinguish himself from his predecessor. On Yemen, holdover envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed continues to oversee bombing and now cholera, spun by holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric who has also defended the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization's patent work for sodium cyanide in North Korea. On Press Freedom, there are still no UN rules and evictions and restrictions remain in place