Why is the President of the United Nations General Assembly acting as Turkey’s spokesperson?
BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
The United Nations General Assembly held a meeting on May 5, 2021 on the theme “Interactive Dialogue to Commemorate and Promote the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace”. The meeting usually takes place on April 24, a date designated by the UN to celebrate “multilateralism and diplomacy for peace.”
UN delegates from many countries, including the representative of Armenia, made remarks at the meeting chaired by General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, a former Turkish diplomat, and Secretary General of UN Antonio Guterres.
Davit Knyazyan, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Armenian Mission to the United Nations in New York, made the following statement during the meeting:
“Armenia is firmly committed to effective multilateralism based on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including the non-use of force or the threat of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes. April 24 is the day the Armenian people around the world commemorate and pay homage to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, which is a stark reminder that the crisis of the international order can lead to atrocious crimes.
“The global challenges caused by the pandemic are a test of multilateralism. Amid the growth of hate speech, the militarization of the pandemic to start wars and violate human rights and the justification for past genocides, the United Nations should be the guardians of international law, purposes and principles. of the Charter of the United Nations and of the values of humanity. Strengthening the capacities of the United Nations to prevent and respond to these challenges is crucial for the respect of human rights and human dignity.
“We would like to ask the heads of the main organs of the United Nations: what measures can be identified to strengthen the preventive mechanisms of the United Nations in order to deal with the rise of hate speech, denial and justification of the atrocities committed in the past? And second, how to ensure an effective response by the United Nations system to incitement to violence and identity crimes on ethnic and religious grounds? “
After brief remarks from the UN Secretary General, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir responded to the Armenian representative’s statement:
“In response to my distinguished Armenian colleague [partly answered by the Secretary-General]Genocide is a crime specifically defined in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. What constitutes genocide and how it is determined are clearly established in the Convention. Accordingly, the crime of genocide must be determined by a competent judicial body. In other words, to qualify an incident as genocide, a competent international tribunal must make a decision to that effect. The UN position on what constitutes genocide is naturally in accordance with the Convention, and it has been repeated time and again by UN officials in the past and, more recently, two weeks ago by the Porte – speech of the Secretary General, who reiterated this genocide. must be determined by an appropriate judicial body, as far as the United Nations is concerned. “
There are several problems with Mr Bozkir’s statement. First of all, he responded to Armenia’s remarks more as a Turkish diplomat than as president of the General Assembly, in violation of the standards of his UN position. This is the reason why the Ambassador of Armenia to the United Nations, Mher Margaryan, submitted on May 10, 2021, a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to be circulated as an official UN document. , expressing concern that Mr. Bozkir had “abused” the May 5 meeting to deliver “an irrelevant and unsolicited interpretation” of the Genocide Convention. Amb. Margaryan said that “Mr Bozkir’s inappropriate remarks … must be seen in the context of the official policy of denying the occurrence of the genocide of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire constantly promoted by the Turkish government, as demonstrated. the fact that M. Bozkir’s remarks were immediately made public by public news agencies in that country, framed in support of the official narrative of denial. Clearly, Mr. Bozkir’s actions are inconsistent with the Code of Ethics of the President of the General Assembly. “
Foreseeing the conflicting allegiances of Mr. Bozkir, the Permanent Representatives of Armenia and Cyprus to the UN, Mher Margaryan and Andreas Mavroyiannis, sent a joint letter on June 2, 2020 to the UN Secretary General to oppose the appointment of Bozkir to his current post.
The joint letter, circulated to all UN Member States, reminded them that Mr. Bozkir had assured the UN: “(a) to represent only the Bureau to which he is elected, on the basis of the Charter of Nations. United Nations and the body of resolutions, decisions, rules and practices that will bind him as President of the General Assembly; and (b) to treat all Member States equally, respecting the spirit of multilateralism and the rules-based international order, at the heart of which is the United Nations. “
Ambassadors Margaryan and Mavroyiannis stressed that Turkey, the country which nominated Mr. Bozkir, “threatens peace and security throughout its region by systematically violating the Charter of the United Nations and international law, including United Nations sanctions regimes, in order to achieve its aspirations. for regional domination. It does so by displaying a pattern of aggressive behavior towards its neighboring countries, encroaching on their territory, undermining their sovereignty and territorial integrity, questioning their sovereign rights and instrumentalizing the plight of refugees and migrants for political ends. By imposing and maintaining an illegal land blockade on Armenia for nearly three decades, Turkey is effectively preventing transit and access to the sea from the neighboring landlocked country.
Turkey’s persistent policies of denying and attacking the memory and dignity of the victims of the genocide committed in the Ottoman Empire 105 years ago continue to pose a threat to the security of Armenia and the region within the meaning large. Turkey invaded Cyprus and continued to occupy over a third of its territory for almost 50 years; continues to deny its very existence by insisting not to recognize it, after having unilaterally proclaimed an illegal and secessionist entity in the area it occupies, which it tries to oppose the only legitimate government, despite the clear condemnation of its actions by the Security Council; is responsible for gross human rights violations in Cyprus, which it continues to deny despite its conviction by the European Court of Human Rights; and continues to violate the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus on land, sea and air on a daily basis. It is for these reasons that our delegations oppose the election of Mr. Bozkir in silence and request that the election of the President of the General Assembly at its seventy-fifth session be by secret ballot. “
Despite his position at the UN, Mr. Bozkir acts as a representative of Turkey since he has held many positions in his country’s foreign service since 1972, including Ambassador to Romania, Consul General in New York, First Secretary of the embassy in Iraq and vice-consul. General in Stuttgart, Germany. He was also chief of staff and chief foreign policy adviser to Presidents Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel, and deputy under-secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was also a member of the Turkish Parliament for nine years and Minister of European Affairs.
Forgetting his commitments to the UN, Mr. Bozkir had a “Pavlovian” response to the mention of the Armenian genocide by the representative of Armenia. It is important to note that he has repeatedly denied the Armenian genocide while he was a Turkish diplomat.
On May 5, 2021, Mr. Bozkir echoed the oft-repeated Turkish line that “the crime of genocide must be determined by a competent judicial body”. He was reacting indirectly to Pres. Recent recognition by Biden of the Armenian genocide. First, the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) was the first country to hold court martial trials regarding the Armenian massacres (the term genocide has yet to be coined) in Istanbul, in 1919- 1920, condemning Armenian brains to death. massacres. Second, Pres. Biden along with the US Congress and over 30 parliaments around the world have recognized the Armenian Genocide, not as a legal judgment, but as a political affirmation of the crime of genocide.
By asserting that “genocide must be determined by an appropriate judicial body,” Mr. Bozkir ignores the UN’s own records. For example, the United Nations War Crimes Commission prepared a lengthy report in 1948, accusing the Turkish government of committing the Armenian massacres. The UN report describes these massacres as “crimes against humanity”, which covers “inhumane acts committed by a government against its own subjects. Mr Bozkir also ignores the fact that the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities adopted a report in 1985 in which the Armenian genocide was mentioned as an example of genocide. I was present at this session and spoke in favor of the UN report.
Since the Genocide Convention was adopted by the UN, its recognition of the Armenian Genocide has been an authoritative statement.
Fortunately, Bozkir’s one-year term at the UN will end in a few months. Acting as Turkey’s spokesperson, he is trying to secure another Turkish diplomatic post as he will be quitting his current job soon.