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

Former Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir is seen in this undated file photo.
Former Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir is seen in this undated file photo. (AA)

The UN General Assembly elected on 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.

Greece, Greek Cypriot Administration and Armenia asked for a vote rather than electing him by consensus.

"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."

40 years of diplomacy 

Bozkir is currently a lawmaker at governing Justice and Development (AK) Party 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, Baghdad, New York and Bucharest.

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 September 17.

Elections amid Covid-19 pandemic

This year he will lead the annual forum as it prepares to convene in some virtual form for the first time in the UN's 75-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fearing fraud or manipulation, the General Assembly did not vote electronically, even though the United Nations is mostly operating virtually until the end of July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, each of the 193 delegations had a chance to cast a secret ballot at a designated time scattered throughout the day in the famous Assembly Hall.

Each new Security Council member needs to win two-thirds of the votes cast — meaning 128 votes if all 193 nations vote. Delegates could have to vote multiple times to certify a winner.

The Security Council has 10 non-permanent members in addition to the veto-wielding Big Five — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

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.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies