United Nations Headquarters, New York

President of the General Assembly (PGA): Of course, it is always a pleasure for me to speak with the media. I think in today’s world we must share messages, and through your questions, I will understand where the pulse is, so that when planning or discussing things in our circle, it will also be very useful for us. Also, this indicates how much value I am giving to the press, and I think we will continue this frequently and exchange views. And we’ll be ready to provide you information so that you can build up your news and work accordingly.

I think today we were supposed to be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, but things developed differently. Unfortunately, we have observed a very difficult period, but in a way, I feel lucky that once I started, after so many months, the physical meetings of the General Assembly or other committees or the Security Council have started. And I think this is absolutely necessary. Without having physical meetings, I don’t think the UN can be followed throughout the world through virtual meetings.

I came from abroad and I have had the chance to visit some countries, meet with UN staff. You have people risking their lives around the world and all of the feeling is that the UN must also now have continued physical meetings. So I hope they’re taking care of the medical requirements and respecting what the medical circles tell us to do. I hope we will be able to continue the physical meetings in the future as well.

So I think COVID-19 has exposed inequalities both between nations and also some of the thinking here, but we must perhaps look at a very difficult situation to build some new priorities and to start from here to look to the future with different thinking. Sometimes there are two ways. We could have continued the way we did in the last months and in a way that would have led us to lose the battle against COVID-19. But if we bring together people, the delegates, the meetings, civil society, the press, all can join us in this effort to support multilateralism and to make the biggest platform in the world where 193 countries with all their possibilities are here.

We might build from here and perhaps when we look at the future, we might perhaps be more selective with the priorities. But while being selective, I will absolutely make sure that the selection will not be against the countries or people in need. We must keep the priorities there and also perhaps build on some more contributions, some more possibilities for these groups in the world, because I think they were already in a difficult situation and COVID-19 unfortunately deteriorated their situation.

That is why I chose to adapt the theme for the 75th session. United Nations member countries, you know, chose the theme: ‘The future we want, the United Nations we need, reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.’ I decided to add to it ‘Confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action’. So altogether, I think it will be more meaningful, representing the situation we are facing. And I think it’s our duty to fight against the virus together.

Perhaps I stop here and do not continue in a monologue, and we continue by answering your questions. As I mentioned in the beginning, I will learn from your questions what is the feeling and pulse here. And perhaps you can be able to understand what my thinking is in that respect. So, thank you very much for joining us again. I’m looking forward to many meetings like this in the future.

Question: You said in your speech just now that since the start of this crisis, the critics of multilateralism have been more vocal. You warned that unilateralism will only strengthen the COVID-19 pandemic, and you said that it is our responsibility to strengthen people’s faith in multilateral cooperation and international institutions. How can you do that under the current circumstances? And you also talked about the divisions among nations and people. And I wondered, as a second question, if you had any comment on the status of what’s going on in the eastern Mediterranean involving your own country? Thank you.

PGA: When I mentioned that multilateralism is the panacea to all the problems in the world, I think multilateralism can best be implemented in the United Nations platform. And when you remove this platform and move to a virtual style, then you lose the person-to-person meetings, the coffee talks, or having lunch together, or when a meeting is held in the corridors to talk to each other. I think this is essential because nothing can replace this kind of communication. It helps people to understand what the others think, and it also gives the possibility to find out if there is a possibility for a compromise.

The other thing of course is when you lose the strength of these international organizations, mainly the United Nations. In a way, we had several months when we didn’t have any meetings or everything went virtual. So, in the world, people started thinking that in many other parts of the world, parliaments are functioning, leaders are meeting, foreign ministers are travelling. Why is the United Nations not meeting? I know perfectly well why the United Nations is not working. You had a horrible tragedy during the past month. I can understand it. But for ordinary people around the world, they just look at the results. They want to see the meetings going on, people on the podium speaking, documents distributed. They don’t care if there are 200 resolutions or 75 resolutions. They only care, looking at the picture, about seeing that their voice is presented there. So multilateralism versus unilateral movements can only be handled if we go back to physical meetings and finding compromises and giving messages and making those people feel that their voice is heard here, their problems are pronounced here, and solutions are discussed and perhaps delivered to them. So this is, I think, important.

Concerning priorities, you have most probably read my vision statement and also my other priorities. I, of course, give importance, first of all, to multilateralism. And from this perspective, the answer to your question is that whatever the cost is, respecting only the medical requirements, we have to have these meetings continue and these talks. There are also other difficulties. Some countries have interpretation and translation problems. Not every country has large delegations or the possibilities to do it themselves. Many of the member countries have difficulties with the documents and interpretation. There’s also, of course, civil society participation. I think civil society is the pillar of democracy, and we must, after some time, find a way that civil society is presented here, the stakeholders, the NGOs, those groups we have a tradition of seeing here. And so this will increase the strength of multilateralism. And then as success comes, accompanying the multilateralism, then the unilateral tendencies will think twice. If there is a strong possibility here, world public opinion will feel this wind and they will go for the UN or whatever the international organization is, and multilateralism. And when they see that projects are being achieved, then this of course will be the criteria.

I said I’m lucky because I started this month with the physical meetings taking place, and I think with all the high-level week summits and meetings, we’re going to show that the UN is back. It’s good that we are having this because many people were thinking, “Where is the UN?”. So, now we will say, “Here is the UN.” We are having the 75th anniversary summit. We are having the General Debate. We are having the first ever summit on biodiversity. We are going to have the high-level meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The Fourth World Conference on Women’s 25th anniversary will be there.

With these meetings, we will make it possible that messages again are pronounced and people will see that the UN is there. The important thing is, of course, as we have the tragedy behind us – and it is because of the tragedy that we didn’t have meetings – that we cross our fingers. Let us hope that all these high-level summit meetings will be held with success. without any health difficulties. Then we might be able to announce new steps forward, perhaps adding those missing elements for multilateralism and compromise, finding efforts, etcetera.

In that respect, we will also have two special sessions. One will be on COVID-19. When they asked me, “When shall we have this summit meeting with this special session on COVID?”, I said, “You should have had it last June. It’s already too late. You should have had it already.” So that’s why, in a way, I imposed my feelings that we should have it this year, not next year, because in politics, timing is important. When you don’t have it on time, then you lose the relation of this meeting to the people who are expecting something from it. And also, another special session will be held on corruption. As you know, this is a tradition, and we’re having that. And this is the way I’m looking to the 75th session of the General Assembly’s work.

Concerning, of course, your question on what’s happening in the part of the world where I come from, I think we must have a difference as of now. I have been in diplomatic service for about 39 years. And for the last nine years, I was the head of the Turkish Foreign Policy Affairs Committee of the Parliament. Of course, I would have some views coming from my background.

But I think as the PGA, I must be impartial. I will always look at the situations like this from a UN perspective and not from my country’s perspective. So of course, the Turkish Permanent Representative will be available any time you want him to give you better detailed answers. But I followed the recent developments, and this is not just for what’s happening between Turkey and Greece, but in principle, I think through dialogue and diplomacy, these kind of situations must be transferred into a peaceful point. Turkey and Greece are two NATO allies, members of the United Nations, and they have strong historic cultural and economic ties. So, my preference is, of course, to see peace and stability in the world, in the region and between countries. And this will always be my attitude as the PGA, not only because I want to be impartial, but I think the UN, by doing so, can have a chance to intervene and provide solutions to problems.

Question: When is the COVID-19 special session going to take place?

PGA: Well, yesterday the General Assembly has decided to pass the presidency of the special session from President Bande to me. So now there will be the modalities to be decided. But the date for the COVID-19 special session is planned to be in the first week of November.

Question: My question is about COVID-19 and the way the UN is handling it. Just this morning, the Secretary-General said that it was a stupid mistake for rich countries not to back the COVID vaccine. Could you tell us what your views are as you will be steering this ship during COVID? And on a slightly separate issue, if only one Head of State and that of the host country does come in person, is that a good message? What kind of message does that send?

PGA: Well, I think the General Assembly is the most representative body in the world. I have mentioned this in my previous statement. And COVID-19 is a global challenge that requires a multilateral response. So, I think here we must take into account whatever possibility we have in hand or we are going to have in the future. We don’t have the luxury to exclude any institution that is making progress. And we must support with all of our capacities these efforts to reach a vaccine to be presented to the public. But I think here there is a critical issue, which is this. If the vaccine is found and introduced, we must also make sure that it is distributed fairly and justly.

If we allow only a part of the world to benefit from the vaccine and leave the major portion of the world to a later stage, I think it will not be correct and it will not be just. So, the UN’s role and the General Assembly’s role actually comes into the picture at this point.

I personally will make it a priority in my statements, to make statements on this point. And also, of course, perhaps with the World Health Organization, some might think that they haven’t responded adequately to the crisis. Some think that they are doing whatever their duty is. But it is an institution, an organization, that we cannot spare. We have to make sure and also investigate and talk about that, whether there’s a missing element. If there is, we must try to correct it. But if there’s going to be a health problem, we should take advantage of using the expertise and experience of the World Health Organization. It goes for any other institution or company or whatever. We are in a situation where there is a run towards finding a vaccine. And I think that is going to be a major solution to the problem. So, we don’t have the luxury to say, “I can only have these, and I only want these.” And as the United Nations, we must also intervene and make sure that all these works are elaborated and taken into account.

Question: As you know, today in the White House, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed an agreement with Israel. Do you think such unilateral steps, which exclude the Palestinians, are helpful? And how do you think the General Assembly should play a better role on the peace efforts and having its own resolutions implemented?

PGA: First of all, establishing diplomatic relations is a sovereign decision of member countries. But second, achieving peace in the Middle East has been on the UN’s agenda since its creation. And such peace depends on a number of factors, including a just and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The settlement must be found through negotiations and on the basis of a vision of two States living side by side within secure and recognized borders, and in the framework of the relevant UN resolutions. I think the Palestinians have suffered for decades, and all they want is to live in peace and prosperity and on their own land, in their own sovereign State. I think there is no alternative to dialogue between the two States. So, I look from this perspective, and I think this is also the UN perspective looking to this situation.

Question: My question is about Security Council reform. This is an item which has been debated for years with no significant progress. Do you have any idea how to break the deadlock and to take the process forward, which is so vital for the effective functioning of the Security Council?

PGA: I think Security Council reform is very important, not only for the Member States, but also to the United Nations as a whole. Of course, it is a complex challenge that is closely linked to one of the main pillars of the organization: peace and security. There’s no doubt that the membership of the Security Council, as well as its working methods, must reflect the realities of the 21st century. This process is an intergovernmental one and thereby Member States-driven. This session, we will build on the meetings held during previous sessions. I hope that through active engagement of Member States and pragmatic approaches, we will be able to make meaningful progress on this difficult issue. And I’m committed to support this process in an impartial, objective and open-minded manner. I think one of the urgent issues we will have to decide is to appoint the facilitators for this process. I’m going to do that while consulting with countries, so that this decision of mine will be acceptable and it will help the process to go forward.

Question: Firstly, has any Head of State or Government confirmed their attendance at the high-level meetings in person, including President Trump or the Turkish President? And my second question will be on multilateralism. It has been shaken not just by a global pandemic with countries going their own ways, but also the US administration’s withdrawal from various UN bodies and international agreements. Are you concerned about the future of the United Nations? Do you think it could survive Donald Trump’s second term and without any reforms?

PGA: First of all, you haven’t perhaps followed the process of my election. I had a lot of meetings with the geographical groups and member country representatives and also in an interactive dialogue meeting, which took three hours and 40 minutes. But I have supported the idea, from the beginning, that physical meetings must come back, and that also included the high-level week.

In the beginning, I was afraid – perhaps I was mistaken – but I was afraid that the tendency was to have the high-level meetings in a visual format, but I opposed that. I said, “You can’t do that. If you do it, think about after one year, when I’m transferring the PGA duty to the PGA-elect. It will not be a meeting of pleasure and celebration; it will be the funeral ceremony of the United Nations. So, we came from this point to what we have achieved now for the high-level week.

In the beginning, I also advocated the idea that it shouldn’t be for the United Nations to say no to the leaders coming to New York. I said this was not the UN’s job to say this. It should be the host country or the local authorities. We organize the meetings. We agree on the modalities, and then if health conditions permit, then they come. And we were talking about this in June. I said, “Look, we have three months ahead. How can we know what will happen or what will be the situation in September?” So, let it be like this. The modalities from the United Nations do not encourage or discourage leaders to attend the meeting. So, it’s a hybrid type of meeting. In principle, the leaders, if they come, will take the podium and make their speeches. If not, there will be a video message. Some leaders, until 10 days ago, I know had registered their names to come physically to the meeting. I’ve seen some Presidents, some Prime Ministers, some Foreign Ministers, on some lists.

But afterwards, when the US Government and the local authorities enlarged the current [quarantine] time to 14 days, no matter what, without even a COVID test being acceptable, it made it impossible for any leader to come and physically be present in the General Assembly for those meetings. The 14 days started last week. So, anybody who hasn’t been here last week will not have the chance to speak at the high-level week. I don’t know what the host country’s preference will be. I haven’t heard any decision yet. I also follow the rumors that the President of the host country is considering to come physically and make a statement here, but it hasn’t been officially announced, and we will see what will happen.

Now, I served 39 years as a diplomat and almost 10 years as a politician. What I learned from politics is that the political wind and the body language and the electricity coming out is more important than anything else. An institution can only be considered as a powerful institution if this political wind is there. So, if the United Nations shows to the world that it is in a way doing its job very forcefully, and the wind is blowing in from all the world behind it, from behind to the front of the United Nations, then I don’t think any country or any person can think of abolishing this institution or lessening its strength. That is why I keep saying that we must have these meetings, to give a platform to the world’s countries, to civil society, to the stakeholders. And this wind must come. Now there’s no wind. Practically virtual conferences or virtual meetings don’t produce any wind. So, I think that after seeing what the result is from the high-level week, we will be in a better position to evaluate where the United Nations is.

But also there is a difficulty with the contributions to the United Nations of the countries in arrears. This huge organization should not have to be thinking about priorities, projects to reach the world and help people and countries in need, while also keeping one eye looking at the budget, where there’s not enough money to handle the daily work of the United Nations.

So, I think this will all be discussed. Discussing, sharing views, explaining is the panacea. So, we will have the chance to do that. And we will also have the chance to talk with the host country about its contributions and approach towards the United Nations. And personally, I don’t have any concern about it. I fully trust that the United Nations is irreplaceable, and it will be with us for another 75 years.

Question: Mr. President, I need a clarification about what you said about the special session on COVID. You said that it would be the first week of November. I understand from some countries that it would be at the beginning of December. And can you confirm also it would be in person and at the level of Head of State?

PGA: Well, the decision to transfer the presidency of the special session from President Bande to me has been decided yesterday. But the modalities will be, of course, discussed in the present format. There are the two facilitators who are working on achieving this special session. And the only date pronounced until now is the first week of November. Of course, the member countries will decide on how this meeting will take place, the date, and the modalities. But we have an advantage now that, until the end of August, we only had the possibility of having decisions with the silence procedure. And the silent process was really becoming something which didn’t help in making decisions. But a few countries, or even one country, could have stopped the whole process. So, we now have the advantage of dealing with things in the General Assembly, and the voting is back.

When we have voting, we will understand whether the majority of the General Assembly, the majority of the member countries, are in favor of something or they oppose something. Before the modalities paper is spread for a decision, I will make the necessary consultations and of course take into consideration all the member countries’ views.

But for the time being, I haven’t yet made that tour of consultations. So, I think according to the majority decision, we will decide on the date as well. And also we don’t know if it will be in-person or the same type of hybrid meeting as we are having for the high-level week. Again, there are two months ahead. According to the existing medical circumstances on those days, again we will check with the medical authorities and the host country to see if the leaders will participate in the meeting or not.

Question: What is your perspective of our current situation of nuclear disarmament? And what can you do to push forward nuclear disarmament as President of the General Assembly?

PGA: It’s, first of all, important to have an inclusive dialogue towards our seven-decade long journey to seek a nuclear weapon-free world. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of the overall nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. And I hope this treaty can serve as another pillar to safeguard and strengthen the international non-proliferation and disarmament architecture. The high-level week will also have a high-level meeting on this. I’m sure the statements and messages coming out from that meeting will also give us a strong platform where we can stand on and work on a better situation vis-à-vis disarmament and non-proliferation. But I think the important thing is again to have the United Nations be strong to achieve this and also take these messages and make it acceptable to the parties and go for a safer world in that respect.

Question: I just wanted to confirm what you said a minute ago, that you knew of about 10 Heads of State or Government who had indicated they wanted to come physically. But then, from what I think you said, the host country and local authorities said everyone coming must self-quarantine for 14 days? Was that a decision made specifically for the UN General Assembly session? And why did they not make the possibility of swabbing available?

PGA: I think especially the tri-state area is giving the best performance vis-à-vis the fight against this pandemic, even though the biggest tragedy was here. So, in a way, they are very much cautious about not letting any event harm the level reached today. I personally support the idea that leaders can come. Precautionary measures will be applied to them – one person or two persons will be in the General Assembly room. But the difficulty was not the leaders, but the accompanying delegations as well. We’re talking about it as it was in previous years; we’re talking about ten thousand people coming to United Nations Headquarters. It could have been lessened. But this concern and fear in a way might be the reason why this 14-day quarantine was imposed on everybody. Before, you know, it was that the diplomats or the essential workers were not included in it. But the new decision includes – If it is a President of a State, or a Head of State, whoever it is, they must have 14 days of quarantine, and a COVID test doesn’t help. So that is where we are.

Question: Can you tell us which leaders had indicated they wanted to come?

PGA: Well, I have seen a list. I can say that the Turkish President and the Foreign Minister officially informed the United States Government and UN Protocol that they are still there – because until the 11th of September, there was a deadline for countries to mention if their leaders were coming. I don’t know if some countries have kept their names on the list or not. I will check it tomorrow.

Question: I have two questions, Mr. President. First, there are so many items now which historically used to be discussed by the General Assembly and now they have been moved to the Security Council, such as development, children, women, poverty, youth. Did the Security Council leave anything for the General Assembly to discuss?

The second is about sanctions. Typically, a country that violates international law and UN resolutions is subject to sanctions. But there is one State only in the history of the UN that has been in violation and yet has not been ever subject to sanctions, which is Israel. Can you explain that?

PGA: First of all, on your first question, I will make sure that the three organs of the United Nations system, mainly the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and the Security Council, work in harmony. Also, ECOSOC is going to be a part of this balance in the UN system. Again, when one body doesn’t perform sufficiently, then other bodies take to the scene and try to do something about it. So, the examples you have given are actually examples of this balance as well. There are some issues which have to be dealt with by the General Assembly, but because the General Assembly was not able to meet because of this pandemic, etc., the Security Council took the responsibility and imported the issues to its own platform. So, I think here the coordination between the three organs will solve the problem. And of course, if the General Assembly is working heavily on doing what the mandate gives the General Assembly to do, then I will make sure that the issues which are on the list of the General Assembly will not be handled by the Security Council and vice versa. We don’t need to be in a race of doing more and more business and showing to the world that this body is more important, this body is hard working, etc. No, this is not the case. I think there is enough room for all the organs. I mean, if we work hard, then I think we will then talk about the time limits we are going to have. But here again, the answer to this question is coordination between the bodies.

And I will not have this coordination of pre-organized meetings on the first Tuesday of every month, where the Secretary-General, PGA and the Security Council chief meet and discuss. No, if we need to discuss things three times a week, we will do it if we need to. We will do it, and these meetings should not be shaking hands and just showing that we are meeting. No, we must come to the meetings with an agenda and we must put on the table what are the issues, who will do what, and what can the General Assembly do to help the Security Council. If the Security Council is not able to come to a decision in the UN Charter, there’s a possibility for the General Assembly to take it from there. Or we can also look to ECOSOC because it is a very important body and it has a lot of important issues. So, we will also check in on these issues on the table – what ECOSOC is doing generally, what the Security Council is doing. And of course, the Secretary-General is the engine and the transmission system, if I may say so. And so we will absolutely establish this coordination, and you will see the results very soon.

Concerning sanctions applied to countries, this is not because I’m replying to this question as the PGA, but if you go back, I have always supported the idea that sanctions don’t help. It doesn’t help any country to be punished. Actually, when you apply sanctions, the people suffer more than the country itself – or the leadership you are imposing the sanctions on; they do not suffer. But the people who you want to come to your side, because they are suffering, actually, they in a way join the country the sanction is applied to. Of course, here the important thing is if it is a UN-decided sanction, then we can talk about it. As the PGA, I can only say that. If there’s a Security Council decision, then we have to respect that. But sometimes without any UN decision or without any UN Security Council decisions, some sanctions are applied. So, we must perhaps discuss all these in meetings, which gives us the possibility to discuss these things. And of course, excluding Israel from sanctions is something the international system decides, the UN decides. So, we will also look at it, perhaps according to the previous words that were mentioned.

Question: Three quick questions. Earlier, you were talking about the World Health Organization. Do you feel that they were responsive and quick enough to declare a pandemic or were they too cozy with Chinese officials? Number two, you also talked about the physicality of a General Assembly. Do you think that there may not be a silver lining with the virtual format because it might allow some leaders like Kim Jong Un to actually address the General Assembly for the first time? And thirdly, why did you want the job in such a challenging year?

PGA: Well, if you go back to the World Health Organization, I think what I have said covers your question as well. I think that organization is the most suited to addressing global health crises. And again, I mentioned that if there is anything that is not done correctly, we can look into it, or we can have a new system for that. But I think if we go into this blame game on a UN institution, in a way, it doesn’t help us.  At the moment we need any expertise, any experience from any institution, whether it’s the WHO or whether it’s a company that’s trying to produce a vaccine. From that perspective, I’ll look into it. And I really would not like to go as the PGA into country-based blame games or appreciations. We must look from an objective point of view and make an objective evaluation – whether the system is helping us, or the system must be supported with new measures and new elements. That is valid for who or whatever the institution is.

Your other question was concerning participation in the UN. Again, it’s the country’s decision to decide on who’s going to make the statement in the General Assembly, the General Debate. We can’t say, “We don’t like this person, so he doesn’t speak. We like this person; he or she must speak.” This is not our job. We must leave it to the countries. And then perhaps this year it might be easier for some countries because there will be no visa requirements etcetera for a physical presence, so they might be able to use this platform for their messages as well. I believe that any country must speak about its problems and give its messages, whether we like it or not. It’s good to listen. And then perhaps the other countries might build on the messages to see if there can be a compromise, or something to work on together, or see if there is something the UN can do. So, in that respect, I’m very liberal. And I would be happy if all the countries are represented in the United Nations.

Question: Mr. President, welcome back to New York. It’s after 30 years that you were a Consul General right across the street and overlooking the General Assembly building for four years. You had a lot of experience with the General Assembly and then suddenly you got this job. Can you tell us about your personal feelings from those years and starting this job?

PGA: Well, I was the Consul General of Turkey from ‘89 to almost ’93, for four years, and many things have changed of course in New York in between. But some things didn’t change, like it was the father Cuomo who was the Governor and now it’s the son Cuomo. [laughter] And of course the United Nations has always been the main pillar of New York. The UN is New York, and New York is the UN. So, when I was here in January for the WEOG [Western European and Other Group] meeting where I was endorsed as the WEOG candidate, I took a picture from the same apartment I’m now living in – a night picture. And that picture and the same picture I took in August shows that the lights are almost half. And it makes me very sorry. The liveliness, people running around, restaurants and musicals, everyday life, the stressful traffic, was an attraction. I remember one person who told me when I was appointed many years ago, “Enjoy every minute and even like the garbage on the streets in New York. You will miss that also.” Everything is New York. I mean, you can’t say, well, these things are not liked and these are liked. It is, I think, a beautiful beauty here. You don’t see it anywhere else. And that is what attracts you.

I had my twin granddaughters born here. My son went to Manhattan College. And this opportunity gives me also the possibility of living in New York. I will enjoy whatever the conditions are. I will make maximum use of the restaurants on the street or whatever is possible. It is a love for the city and I think this keeps us all going on in this city.

I forgot to answer one question you asked, but it’s also related. Why did I want to become PGA in this very difficult moment? But it wasn’t me who decided. I wasn’t asking for it. I was a candidate. I was in Belarus last September for a Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, an official visit, and the phone rang.

The Foreign Minister said, “You have been decided by the Turkish Government to be a candidate for this job.” But the line wasn’t very good. We were travelling to a castle in Minsk and I said, “What? What is the job?” And I couldn’t hear what it was. So, after three hours, with all my anxiety, I was trying to understand to what job I was nominated. Then I learned it was this.

Of course, it is a huge responsibility. I can only be proud to be nominated by my country to this very important job. And I can only be proud that I was elected by 178 votes in the General Assembly, which gives a lot of power to me in my future endeavors. And I hope with my team and the General Assembly that we can leave behind a legacy as President Bande has left today, with the applause given to his performance. He did a wonderful job under these difficult circumstances, and I hope that I will, with my team, finish my duty with applause and no people saying that he could have done many things but he couldn’t do them or he didn’t do them. So let’s work together. Let’s support each other and let us reach a point where we will all be happy and we all benefit. And thank you very much for joining me today. I hope you will not hate me when we have so many frequent meetings like this.

But the important thing is I will tell you what I believe, and what I have in my information and my knowledge, if I may say so. And sometimes I will not speak even if I know the answer to the question. Sometimes you will see me speaking too much, but not saying too much. But this is how it works, and we will find a way to understand each other in the future.

Thank you very much.