Remarks to the press by Ambassador V.Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
V.Churkin: Ladies and gentlemen, in its 7782 meeting held in private on October 6, 2016 the Security Council considered the question of the recommendation for the appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Security Council adopted by acclamation the following resolution:
“The Security Council,
“Having considered the question of the recommendation for the appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations,
“Recommends to the General Assembly that Mr. António Guterres be appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations for a term of office from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021.”
Thank you. Any questions?
Q: Thank you Ambassador for this briefing. What would you say to the millions of women who have been expecting a woman to be a Secretary-General and who are disappointed today?
V.Churkin: I would say that we had a very fair process, we encouraged the presentation of women as candidates, 50% of the candidates were women from the outset to the last straw poll but ultimately I think there was general agreement among members of the Security Council and beyond that the most important thing is to have the best candidate available. It so happened that the best candidate available turned out to be Mr.António Guterres.
Q: Ambassador, thank you. This unity of the Security Council – do you think acclamation for Mr.António Guterres will have impact on your deep differences on Syria, on Ukraine and other issues? Are you cooperating now better with your colleagues?
V.Churkin: I hope it does. Of course I cannot stretch it too much. I cannot say that after this really very important show of unity in the Council all the differences will become less dramatic then they are. But let me tell you we are continuing our discussions and our consultations even on the most difficult issues and of course same thing is happening in our capitals so the work is going to continue. Most importantly this sign of unity which I hope is going to be translated to the General Assembly shows that Mr.Guterres the next five years can rely on the very strong support of the Security Council and the membership of the United Nations.
Q: Thank you, Mr.Ambassador. Do you think it is going to be a woman who is going to take a position of Deputy Secretary-General (DSG)? Should it be one? Does it matter if she or he is from Eastern European Group? And the second question. Did Russia get to be it tautened which is a Department of Political Affairs?
V.Churkin: First of all it is for Mr.Guterres to decide who is he going to appoint to senior positions. To your second question – in the course those discussions we had with various candidates including Mr.Guterres we did express our interest in being better represented in the senior echelons of the Secretariat – it is no secret, we have been public about it for quite a while. But there were no under-the-table deals. There were no direct questions asked, no direct promises given. I think frankly, Russia having found itself in rather difficult position – being in Eastern Europe, being committed to our Eastern European colleagues and Eastern European candidates, I think we heard a lot of appreciation from all the candidates for being very straightforward in our attitude. From the outset we said “yes, we do believe that it is time of Eastern European regional group to present a candidate for the Secretary-General, we would very much like to see a woman but at the same time we need to respect the fact that there are other strong candidates and depending on circumstances we made no promises of blocking everybody who is not coming from Eastern Europe”. And we said it very clearly to people in Eastern Europe and outside. And let me tell you we heard a lot of appreciation for that straightforward and honest position of the Russian Federation.
Q: And what about DSG?
V.Churkin: Deputy – I answered. It is for Mr.Guterres to answer this question.
Q: Mr.Ambassador, in your national capacity what do you expect the attention of new Secretary-General will be on during next few weeks?
V.Churkin: Mr.Guterres is a very experienced man. I am sure he is going to be heavily engaged in the preparation for the job but I cannot speak for him.
Q: For those who just getting to know Mr.Guterres now and aren’t familiar with his work at the UN and before in Portugal - can you say what are the strongest qualities that impressed the Security Council to nominate him?
V.Churkin: I think he has many strong qualities. Other candidates also had many strong qualities. I sensed in our conversations that various members of the Security Council and various members of the United Nations - first he has great United Nations credentials having been High Commissioner for Refugees for ten years and being High Commissioner for Refugees means traveling around the world and seeing some of the most gruesome conflicts we have to deal with. And then of course he is a high-level politician. He has been Prime Minister of his country and he is a person who talks to everybody, listens to everybody, speaks his mind, very outgoing, an open person. So I think it was a great choice. I am glad that we are aligned around Mr.Guterres.
Q: Ambassador, on other issues yesterday you had a meeting with the Iraqi Ambassador and they asked for a Security Council meeting about Turkish military presence in Iraq. Will there be a meeting about that? And what is your position about that in your national capacity?
V.Churkin: They drew the attention to a certain situation and they drew the attention of the Security Council to that situation and we informed the members of the Security Council about this conversation. But what is going to happen after I cannot tell you now.
Q: One other issue, important issue of the day. We have comments from Geneva from the Special Envoy for Syria and he made a number of points. One of them was the suggestion that your government and Syrian government were using 900 al-Nusra fighters as an alibi to destroy …
V.Churkin: Who was saying that?
Q: Staffan di Mistura.
V.Churkin: I haven’t seen those comments. I would be very much surprised. In fact I am 99 percent sure that you are misrepresenting his position. Show me the text. If not, you will be in trouble with me. I really mean it. Because I don’t like this kind of stuff. Next question? Please.
Q: Have you sat together with new Secretary-General as well as Ambassador Power to actually talk about how you would resolve Syria issue?
V.Churkin: No. In the course of our contacts all sorts of issues were coming up including the crisis situation of the world. But specifically we have not talked with him about anything.
Q: (inadible) draft please…
V.Churkin: We discussed the draft today. We will see where it goes. Also, Foreign Minister of France is now in Moscow. As I say very intensive contacts through various channels and various levels are taking place.
Q: I wanted to know what were your thoughts of Ms.Georgieva? How she came out? There is a lot of uproar of her entering the race, she had five encourages. What do you think make of that? And also what happened with the Damascus shelling press statement? Last time you were here you said it might come out in twenty minutes. I think I understand, but what is your response?
V.Churkin: Damascus shelling is another disappointing situation. We issued a statement. It was in Russian. Probably it was not translated into English that the US delegation blocked it, supported by the UK and Ukrainian delegations. And we regret it. They started bringing in the test other elements of the situation in Syria. Usually when we deal with terrorist attacks especially attacks on diplomatic premises we were issuing statements immediately. And Russia immediately was supporting those statements whoever was under attack. But they are sort of playing politics with the Vienna Convention, with the status of the diplomatic premises, which is not good.
As to Ms.Georgieva – we have been very open with her. We have been talking with her for a very long time, for months, and saying the thing that we were saying to other candidates. If you are on the list we will consider you along with other candidates. She chose to come in late which was her right to decide when she wanted to come in and her government’s right to decide. And what happened - happened.