PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR
ASSEMBLY ADOPTS U.N. BUDGET FOR 2021
- Last Thursday, 31 December, the General Assembly adopted the UN’s regular budget for 2021 – in the amount of 3.231 billion US dollars.
- The budget was adopted by a vote of 167 in favour to 2 against with 0 abstentions.
- Asked whether the President had any reaction to the “strong objections” by the United States to the UN’s budget, the Spokesperson said it was not for the President to comment on individual Member States’ positions. What was important for the President was that the budget had been adopted.
- Asked if the President expected any shifts in US attitudes towards funding the UN once a new administration was in place in Washington, the Spokesperson said the President expected all Member States to honor their commitments and pay their dues so that the UN could fulfil the important mandates it had been given.
PRESIDENT GETS LETTER FROM U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN ON U.N.-U.S. COLLABORATION
- The President was pleased to receive a letter from United States President-elect Joe Biden, following his reaching out to Mr. Biden about a possible phone call.
- In the letter, Mr. Biden said he looked forward to working with the President and the General Assembly on “addressing the range of challenges and opportunities for which global cooperation is paramount.”
- In relation to the letter, the Spokesperson was asked if the President expected any changes in US-UN relations. The Spokesperson replied that, while he could not predict the future, he knew that the President wished to see continued US-UN collaboration, and it was in that spirit that the President had reached out to Mr. Biden.
- While Mr. Biden understandably had a lot on his plate before his inauguration, his letter had stressed the importance his administration would attach to engaging with the UN and its General Assembly on cross-cutting issues that transcended national borders, including climate change and COVID-19. The President looked forward to working with Mr. Biden’s administration to address such issues.
PRESIDENT CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACKS IN NIGER & PAKISTAN
- This morning, the President strongly condemned the terrorist attack which recently claimed the lives of 11 innocent coal miners in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. He extended his sincere condolences to the families of the miners, as well as the Pakistani Government and people.
- Yesterday, the President also strongly condemned recent terrorist attacks in Niger, which led to the killing and injuring of many innocent civilians. He expressed his condolences to Niger’s Government and people.
WORLD BRAILLE DAY OBSERVED TODAY
- Today is World Braille Day, which was established by the General Assembly in December 2018. In a message, the President said, “Let us commemorate communication that helps some of the most vulnerable people connect.”
- He added that COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of making information available to all so that everyone can protect themselves and help reduce the spread.
TOP U.N. OFFICIALS SADDENED BY PASSING OF BRIAN URQUHART
- Yesterday, the President tweeted that he shared the Secretary-General’s sadness over the passing of Sir Brian Urquhart, who helped arrange and participated in the first General Assembly meeting in London in 1946.
- The President said that at the end of the day, the UN is made up of people. And Mr. Urquhart was among our Organization’s finest.
PRESIDENT TO GET COVID-19 VACCINE WHEN APPROPRIATE
- Asked whether the President had received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, the Spokesperson said he had not.
- He added that the President would get it at the appropriate time, based on the current procedures, guidelines and recommendations.
PRESIDENT’S NEXT PRESS CONFERENCE EXPECTED LATER THIS MONTH
- Asked whether the President would meet with the press soon, the Spokesperson said he would be discussing that with the President this afternoon and was hoping that a press conference could be held this month.
- He would announce further details as they became available.