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Ban's Apology to Turkey After UN Staff Were Beaten Still Unexplained

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- Dissatisfaction with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon grew on Tuesday as his Office refused to explain why he apologized to the Turkish delegation of Prime Minister Erdogan even as UN Security officers lay injured, beaten by Erdogan's guards.

  Inner City Press, which exclusively on September 23 reported the fight and fall out, on September 27 put questions to Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky in writing and then at the noon briefing.

  By five o'clock none had been answered, except for a "no" to a request that UN Security chief Greg Starr hold a press conference on the scandal. Security source suggest that the person to brief is David Joseph Bongi.

  Before 11 am Tuesday, Inner City Press put five questions by e-mail to Nesirky, none answered or acknowledged six hours later:

Here are five question for this morning in addition to the ones pending:

1. Did the S-G himself come up with the idea of preemptively apologizing to Prime Minister Erdogan, or was this a recommendation of one of his advisers?

2. There are Security officers complaining that a more proper course of action would have been to conduct a full inquiry before making an apology. If the apology wasn't Mr. Ban's idea, whose was it? Mr. Nambiar's? Mr. Pascoe's? Mr. Starr's? Can these officials answer questions?

3. Will the UN Secretariat, or the Secretary-General, take any steps to advise Delegations to heed the instructions of security personnel?

4. Some DSS officers and UN staff believe that the SG owes them an apology for how he handled this incident. Is there any contrition on the part of the S-G or his advisers, or would you have handled this the same way again (e.g. a preemptive apology)?

5. Will there be an actual investigation of this incident, including the retaliatory actions against the officers by Management, and if so, who will conduct it?

Nesirky and his team, two of whom were cc-ed, never even acknowledged receipt of these questions.

Erdogan & Ban, previously, jostling & fast apology not shown

So at Tuesday's noon briefing Inner City Press had to ask:

Spokesperson Nesirky: Yes, Matthew?

Inner City Press: one question I sent you earlier today and then something else that’s just factual on this. You’ve said that there there is an attempt to look into avoiding this in the future, in whichever way it is. And I wanted to know if that involves in any way telling delegations to, you know, heed the instructions of UN Security or to not, it seems with the apology, the implication is that the UN Security were in the wrong, although they were the ones injured. So I wanted to know, is there some message going out to the delegations, I say this because people in UN Security say they said “stop”, they didn’t stop and that’s what happened. So is that viewed by you as part of something that the Secretariat could clarify to delegations, or is it just, if anything happens, UN Security is wrong, as it appears to some?

Spokesperson: What I said yesterday was that necessary action is being taken to prevent such misunderstandings in the future. And that action could take various forms. I don’t know at this stage what that could include. Clearly, liaising with delegations in the run-up to the General Assembly is an important part of such activities to prevent misunderstandings.

Inner City Press:  Factually, it seems that even the Turkish Mission and delegation acknowledge that they requested and received extra passes, that their delegation involved not only the Prime Minister, but a Deputy Prime Minister and five separate ministers and then a bunch of security. And so the question is: is it possible to know what other countries were given extra passes in this way, because it seems to some in Security to have contributed to the incident?

Spokesperson: Let me ask. Yeah?

Inner City Press: maybe you will answer this one. you didn’t say it was an apology, but the Turks have said in the Turkish press that it was, that he received an apology. And it seems to have taken place around 2:30 p.m. on Friday. So, given all the constraints that you’re under, to say, what did the Secretary-General know at that time that led him to say something that the Turkish side took as an apology? Did he speak to Mr. Starr? What was the basis of his information? even if you don’t want to say what the information was, what did he know at 2:30 p.m. Friday that led him to say something that was interpreted as an apology?

Spokesperson: Well, as I have said, we believe that this has been satisfactorily resolved. I confirmed yesterday that the Secretary-General did indeed meet the Prime Minister. And I don’t really have anything further on that...

Inner City Press: One, just more on that. Did Mr. Starr give a yes or no in terms of giving some kind of a press availability about UN Security as regards this incident and otherwise?

Spokesperson: Not explicit, but I believe it’s no.

  So UN Security sources suggest to the Press one David Joseph Bongi. They also tell Inner City Press there is an investigation, or "fact finding," but doubt any results will be made public unless the press keeps pushing. Keep Pressing, they say. Will do.

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Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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