Serbia Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was elected as president of the next session of the UN General Assembly. Analysts believe the election confirms that Belgrade has rehabilitated its image in the world.
By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 14/06/12
Vuk Jeremic will lead the UN General Assembly for a year, beginning on September 18th. [Reuters]
Less than two decades after the conflict that led to NATO's bombing campaign of Serbia and an indictment of much of the country's leadership for war crimes, a Serbian politician will be president of the UN General Assembly.
Analysts say that Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic's 99-85 victory on June 8th over Lithuanian Ambassador Dalius Cekuolis is a clear sign that Serbia has significantly repaired its international position. Jeremic described the vote as "a referendum on Serbia."
"Jeremic's election, despite announcing his candidacy at relatively short notice compared to his Lithuanian opponent, demonstrates the strength of Serbia's standing within the UN, in particular support derived from the non-aligned movement," Ian Bancroft, executive director of the research group TransConflict, told SETimes.
"Combined with Serbia's forthcoming chairmanship of the OSCE, it provides Serbia with an important opportunity to further rehabilitate its reputation on the global stage," he said.
Jeremic's one-year post at the UN will begin on September 18th.
Borislav Stefanovic, longtime political director at Serbia's foreign ministry, described Jeremic's election as "excellent news" for Serbia. "It is a matter of a country's reputation and diplomatic prestige to hold the chairmanship of the UN General Assembly and that confirms Serbia's good reputation," he told SETimes.
Predrag Simic, professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences, told SETimes that Jeremic's election will help boost Serbia's international credibility.
"Serbia now holds much more weight in international relations and will be involved in all world events through Jeremic," Simic said.
He added that while Serbia will not have direct influence on developments in Kosovo or the position of Serbs there, it will be able to indirectly affect matters.
Ardian Arifaj, programme director at the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, said Jeremic's election was a means to an end.
"Among the key factors that [led to] Jeremic's election is the desire of the EU and US to remove [him] from Serbian foreign policy, as [his participation] has not been co-operative or constructive, especially on Kosovo," Arifaj told SETimes.
He said Jeremic might complicate relations with the UN, but not Kosovo's recognition campaign, to which Jeremic has been a key obstacle.
Not everyone in Serbia is pleased with Jeremic's election.
Bojan Djuric, an official in the Liberal Democratic Party, said the real political importance of the post of UN General Assembly chairman "is undoubtedly far smaller than the cost and value of all state resources Jeremic has spent running his campaign around the world."
SETimes correspondent Muhamet Brajshori in Pristina contributed to this report.