PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR

PRESIDENT MARKS HANDOVER OF G-77 & CHINA CHAIRMANSHIP

  • The President spoke this morning at a virtual ceremony to mark the handover of the chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China from Guyana to Guinea.
  • He said that, while COVID-19 has impacted all countries, it has not impacted them all the same. Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, stand to suffer the most in the long term, with many countries at risk of losing an entire generation’s worth of development gains.
  • Meanwhile, on COVID-19 vaccines, he said that, while everyone is relieved that they have begun to be rolled out, he intends to maintain a focus on #Vaccines4All – to keep track of achievements and outstanding needs, and to look for opportunities to close the gaps through multilateral action. He said he hoped the Group of 77 and China would join him in this regard.

PRESIDENT WELCOMES DECREE ON PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS

  • On Palestine, over the weekend, the President said he welcomed the decree by President Abbas to hold legislative, presidential and National Council elections. He said this was a significant step toward intra-Palestinian reconciliation and Palestinian unity.
  • He added that he looked forward to the successful holding of elections and exercise of the Palestinian people’s democratic rights.

NO SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT FOR PRESIDENT’S COVID-19 VACCINE

  • Asked if the President had secured his appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine because of a “special arrangement between city and UN officials”, the Spokesperson said that there had been no special arrangement and that the appointment had nothing to do with the President’s status in the General Assembly.
  • Rather, the President had applied to get the vaccine through New York State’s official web site because he had been eligible for it – just like any other person over the age of 65 living in New York.

PRESIDENT HOPES FOR JOINT LETTER ON SECRETARY-GENERAL SELECTION PROCESS TO BE SENT SOON

  • Asked if there would be any upcoming candidacies for the position of Secretary-General, including from the Eastern European Group, the Spokesperson said he could not speculate on what candidates may or may not be put forth by Member States.
  • The first step was for a joint letter to go out to Member States. In that letter, the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council would invite Member States to present candidates. Until that time, the Spokesperson could not say who might be presented or from which regional group they might come.
  • Asked when the deadline to send the joint letter was, the Spokesperson said there was no official deadline, but the President hoped to see it sent “sooner than later” so that the process could start soon. That is what the President had told his Security Council counterpart.
  • The Spokesperson said he understood that the President of the Security Council needed to secure all Security Council members’ approval on the letter before he could agree to the text. That is what the President of the General Assembly was currently waiting for.

PRESIDENT TO BRIEF ASSEMBLY ON HIS PRIORITIES THIS WEEK

  • Looking ahead, the General Assembly will hold an informal plenary meeting this Thursday, 21 January, in which the President will brief UN Member States about his priorities for the resumed part of the seventy-fifth session.