UN Deputy Secretary General Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev: "MULTILATERAL CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE TO WITHDRAW UN DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE FROM IMPASSE"
Geneva. February 26. KazTAG - The initiatives of President Nursultan Nazarbayev on nuclear disarmament have been appreciated all over the world, and therefore cooperation with the United Nations is a priority for the largest Central Asian state. UN Deputy Secretary General Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev told KazTAG about the facts that hinder the process of disarmament, discussion of anti-nuclear issues, and how it resonates with humanitarian or economic problems of the world.
- Kassym-Zhomart Kemelevich, you are the first representative of an Asian country, who has headed the Geneva office of the United Nations, one of the key and the largest departments of the world organization. Tell us how did this appointment influence the image of Kazakhstan at the international arena?
- Yes, the press release by the UN Secretariat noted that the Secretary General for the first time in the history of the UN office in Geneva appointed a CEO from Asia. This decision was a surprise to the international community. Since 1946, the European and then the UN Geneva Office was headed by representatives of Poland, the USA, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy (three representatives of this country held the CEO from 1957 to 1983), Belgium, Sweden, France, Russia. Now our state appeared in the list, and in this great merit belongs to President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He made a proposal to Ban Ki-Moon to appoint a representative of Kazakhstan to the high post at the UN, my candidacy. After almost two months of the bidding process, I was in the "final", together with the representative of Germany, and then the Secretary-General took the final decision. I have been 13th CEO, but this figure does not bother me, but rather encourages for active work. Without a doubt, my appointment as a head of the second most important office in the UN system had a positive impact on Kazakhstan's reputation as a state with a particular responsibility to strengthen global and regional security. Our country is rightfully called as a leader of the international anti-nuclear movement. The decision of President Nazarbayev to shut down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site received wide recognition. The date of signing of the document the UN General Assembly proclaimed as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. So, my appointment to this high office in the UN system, on the one hand, was a result of increased international authority of Kazakhstan and its leader, and the other - increasing the focus of the international community in our country.
- Explain please, what is a feature of the UN Office in Geneva, and what are the priority tasks in front of it? It is also interesting to know your opinion about the significance of the development of Kazakhstan's cooperation with international organizations in Geneva
- UN Secretary General has set the task of strengthening the role and capacity of Geneva as the world's largest center for the official international forums and meetings. Therefore, during the numerous meetings and statements, I'm doing everything possible to attract additional attention of the states and organizations to the unique features of the city, where the Palace of Nations is located. Our department provides various services to 30 international organizations not only in Geneva, but also in other European cities, and more than 120 UN offices around the world. The Genevaoffice has more than 1,500 employees in 118 countries, from the directors of the departments of administration, conference services, security, information and other units to the technical staff.
The Palace holds negotiations on sensitive issues, such as Georgia and the territorial dispute between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. On June 30, 2012 there was held a ministerial meeting involving the UN Secretary-General on Syria. Mutual efforts resulted in a joint statement, which is still the only policy document indicating the way to resolving the crisis. This place was chosen by the Russian and U.S diplomats, to continue consultations on Syriawith the assistance of Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Secretary General of the Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi. This historic building hosts important and useful work under the Human Rights Council, the European Economic Commission, the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development, and many other United Nations organizations. The Assembly Hall of the Palace of Nations holds the annual sessions of the World Labor Organization, the World Health Organization. Every two years, the Palace of Nations becomes the venue for meetings of Economic and Social Council.
For Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia, cooperation with the United Nations is a priority. It is gratifying that the presence of our country in Geneva is becoming more visible, no matter whether it concerns anti-nuclear issues, economic cooperation and humanitarian spheres.
- As the UN Geneva Office is one of important centers of international politics, and covers a wide range of issues on the global agenda, explain, please, what are the most important projects being carried out at this stage - the period of your work? In this regard, it would be interesting to know how closely do you work with the Secretary General of the UN?
-I have already answered the first part of your question. Adding to the above I would add that Geneva is a global center of discussion of many pressing issues, including human rights, disarmament, trade, health, climate change, etc.
For almost two years, I’ve addressed with a speech three times to the members of our department, answering their questions on all vital issues of joint work.
Now all are concerned about the cut of UN budget by 5% and the additional cuts in the expenses of $ 100 million, which results in the elimination of positions and even layoffs.
My position is: not to reduce efficiency and, if possible - to raise it with less financial resources. Secretary General supported my reform to optimize the production process and reduce administrative costs. At the general meeting of the UN office in Geneva, he said: "We have to get rid of fat, but to keep the muscles in shape." In turn, I support the reform of the Secretary General aimed at improving the system of global governance by all organizations and UN agencies. Like any reform, the initiative of Ban Ki Moon sometimes encounters misunderstanding, rejection and even resistance. And it is important to show camaraderie and solidarity to achieve the ultimate success in a very difficult financial situation, as part of a huge international team. On all policy and management issues, I support the operational link with the General Secretary, constantly exchanging with e-mails, sometimes accompanying him during the visits. We have a good "chemistry" of business and human relationships. He is pleased with the work of the Geneva office, as he stated in a recent meeting of all senior UN officials.
- You are also a Secretary General of the Conference on Disarmament . How do you assess the contribution of Kazakhstan's initiative to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime?
- The contribution of Kazakhstan into the global anti-nuclear movement has been appreciated worldwide. I have already said about the personal contribution of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has authority and respect in the world community as a strong leader with a grand vision of international issues. The Conference on Disarmament knows well that our country is an example of voluntary disarmament and initiated many useful projects in this field. Kazakh delegation takes a consistent and constructive position at the forum. The other day M.Tleuberdi made a statement condemning the nuclear test in North Korea.
- The Conference on Disarmament, in fact, the only multilateral negotiating forum of the international community is going through hard time now. Are the statements reported in the mass media about the crisis in disarmament process true? Could you comment on the prospects for the resumption of negotiations?
-The situation with the Conference on Disarmament is complicated, I can say, stalemate. The forum participants can not even agree on "the program of work" because Pakistan for security reasons, using the consensus rule, every time, postpones the veto, due to this the Conference can not begin negotiations on the draft treaty to stop production of fissile materials. However, the main member states are actively negotiating to withdraw the Conference from the impasse. So I do not think that the Conference is doomed. I have already addressed with concrete proposals that are being discussed. Last autumn, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the creation of an unprecedented working group, which will hold its first meeting in Geneva. I, as a Secretary General of the Conference on Disarmament, am glad that permanent members of the UN Security Council have generally had consolidated position on the status of this unique forum, which is the only mechanism for multilateral disarmament.
In numerous meetings with diplomats, politicians, scientists I never get tired of repeating that the Conference on Disarmament, in any case, must be saved, that is our historic responsibility. The current situation - is the result of the changed geopolitical realities, it is important to exercise strategic patience and at the same time to search for mutually acceptable solutions. This is the essence of diplomacy: dialogue, negotiation and consultation in conjunction with the principles, creativity and patience.
- Can you give an explanation about a number of allegations in the media concerning the web site G-Global created by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and its chances to grow out of a virtual forum for the discussion of world crisis plan into a structure, bringing together the experts on the continent? Do the virtual forums have a potential to compete with the Conference on Disarmament?
- In the modern world, there is nothing impossible, especially in the background of growing role of the Internet. The World Wide Web has already "covered" 2.5 billion people, and it is certainly not the limit. The initiative itself of our leader is of great interest, since it is very practical: enables experts and non-governmental organizations to make suggestions, not only for the economy but also on disarmament. Thus, the most important problems will attract the attention of the world community and the heads of the states.
- As you know, Kazakhstan aspires to get the status of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017-2018. What are the chances of our country to achieve this?
- Kazakhstan has a good chance to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Economic potential and international prestige of the country should become a reliable tool in achieving the ultimate success.
- A few personal questions. You are fluent in English, Russian, French and Chinese, which are the official languages of the UN. How much was this knowledge determining when choosing your candidacy, and how do you apply this knowledge?
- Multilingualism in such an organization as the UN, is a big advantage. In the current work - meetings, talks, statements- I mainly use English when I address speeches to large audiences with the Swiss public, I use French, Russian and Chinese extremely rarely. As for the Kazakh language, I try to snatch time to read our newspapers that I regularly get here.
- You are well known not only as a diplomat but also as an author of a number of interesting and popular books and numerous articles. At this position do you have time for creativity?
- Now I have no time to write a new book. But this does not mean that the Geneva phase of my work will be ignored. There are a lot of interesting, worthy detailed descriptions here, only one story about the building of UN Geneva office is worth something! The Palace of Nations, which came to the UN from the infamous League of Nations is a historical monument of world importance. Each year, the Palace of Nations hosts more than 10 thousand international forums and meetings, which determine the value and importance of Geneva as the world's largest conference center. You always feel here like in the center of events, and the memory keeps many interesting and important details which, hopefully, I will be able to tell about.