15 November 2007

It may have something to do with that General Assembly podium and having all those distinguished delegates below your "see-level." Some recent General Assembly Presidents are known to have their moments of "power seizures" after they take over. The outgoing one was initially obsessed with chasing asbestos levels. An earlier Assembly President once offered the Secretary General to share their offices on that same 38th floor; the upshot was ejecting him to the Second Floor with, of course, more ceremonial space.

Now a new rotating President, who brags about being a Balkan Politician, is demanding special perks; otherwise he would find a gullible new correspondent to describe his heroic stand to open the door of his office (despite security handicaps) to enjoy a "panoramic view of the East River." How that could impact on the deliberation of the Assembly is left to the green-eyed BBC lady. "The heads of the people here have corroded", not the door, announced the obscure man with an unpronounceable name. The President's job, his very own, according to Srgjan Kerim is "to bang heads together" -- as if he has the power to do so!

Having knocked down delegates, the same Srgjan displayed U.N. Secretariat staff as inefficient and disinterested. His task, therefore, was -- (you got it!) -- to turn things around; enter the 21st century and deal with forward-looking issues like climate change, etc. He even hinted that he was among the pioneers of trendy thinking. "When we spoke of climate changed" he told another reporter, people were not aware of it.

Less than two months in his new seat and that fellow whose country's name has yet to be agreed, is pontificating about what everyone else should do. Well, let's put out a few questions about him:

  1. Srgjan Kerim lives in a very expensive hotel in New York, which constitutes a comparative fortune in his impoverished country. Is his government covering the cost? Is anyone else paying? If so, who?
  2. Is he asking for a special U.N. salary?
  3. Is he requesting from the U.N. a credit card to charge all his expenses?
  4. Is he asking for the same privileges as the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General and would he want a car and security for his WIFE?
  5. Four years ago, the Assembly allocated more staff like two D-2s, one D-1, one P-5 and others from the budget of the U.N. for the staff of the President. For the past three years with the exception of Sweden's Jan Elliason, the President's office has been requesting more and more from the U.N. budget. This created waste and nepotism. The office of the President has become a kind of "welfare office" where compatriots and others selected by the President find employment which they could not otherwise get in the Secretariat. Whom did Srgjan appoint from outside?
  6. Is he insisting that the U.N. cover all his travel? Does he know the relevant rules? Are they also "corroded" and would he wish to change them?

Finally, we love and respect the Balkans. Why don't you try to be as modest, enlightened, and warm as its people. You have only one year. Don't give them a bad name!