of France Gives Economic Read of Iran Sanctions, Ban's Sri Lanka
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 4 -- "The United States for historical reasons
has almost no economic relations with Iran," French Ambassador
to the UN Gerard Araud said on Thursday night, explaining the U.S.
push for sanctions on Tehran. In a dig at the U.S. position, Araud
paraphrased a French philosopher, that "you are always ready to
accept the sacrifice of your neighbor."
high painted wood ceiling of his country's consulate across from
Central Park, Araud said that because of the invasion of Iraq
purportedly to find weapons of mass destruction, now the "legitimacy"
of Russian and Chinese support is needed for the next moves on Iran.
Araud urged against a "black and white" view, saying for
example that "economic interests are good reason" for a
said the the
UN is only a player where no one else wants to go. In the "Middle
East conflict, the UN is hardly doing anything," he said. He was
France's Ambassador to Israel. "If
and when there is a peace process," he continued, the UN will be
called in to provide the legitimacy of a Security Council vote, he
said. Until then it can continue its humanitarian work in Gaza.
asked Araud to assess the the action or non-action of the UN,
specifically the Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon, on the slaughter of
civilians in Sri Lanka in 2009. You know the reason, Araud said, in a
manner that more than one observer later described as angry. "The
Secretary General can't go against member states" which did not
want to intervene.
a UN Secretary
General is not entire the slave of the member states: he or she has
an independent moral duty and diplomatic role. And if Ban Ki-moon
couldn't do anything, why did he travel to Sri Lanka and then issue
proclamations that he would follow up on accountability for war
crimes, and reconciliation?
there was a sense of relief that the Sri Lankan government killed off
the LTTE. The price for civilians was high, he said, perhaps too
Araud on Planet UN
was speaking, refreshingly candidly,
after his country's consulate's screening of a pro-UN documentary by
French filmmaker Romuald Sciora. As it turned out, Inner City Press
has already seen and reviewed the film, Planet UN, click here for the
review. But after this screening, James Traub lobbed questions to
Araud and Sciora. When Inner City Press asked about Sri Lanka, Sciora
merely said that he "agrees with Ambassador Araud."
told Inner City Press that the book version of Planet UN is more
nuanced. His introduction begins with a day in 2003 he spent with UN
official Staffan de Mistura, most recent named top UN envoy to
Thursday de Mistura complained loudly at the
stakeout in front of the Security Council about Press
coverage of his
hiring of the Secretary General's son in law, and the role his may
have played in the Secretary General naming him to the Kabul post.
this son in law also served in India's Peace Keeping Force in Sri
Lanka, policing Tamil lands, which some connect to his father in law's
later inaction -- but that's another story.)
asked the UN spokesman if de Mistura could come to answer questions
on the record later on Thursday. No, was the answer, he would not be
answering questions. And from Planet UN, so it goes.
* * *
UN, Russia Slams MOU with NATO, Georgia "Technically"
on Council Agenda
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 2 -- Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, in
an increasingly rare on the record session with the Press, trashed
the UN's "semi-transparent" memorandum of understanding
with NATO while praising the "CIS Symphonic Orchestra" and
a road safety resolution sponsored by the Russian Federation.
the MOU "semi-transparent," Inner City Press asked
Ambassador Churkin if he had seen the whole agreement and if so, why
not release it? Churkin laughed. "You underestimate our
persistence here," he said, adding that Russia saw the MOU the
day it was signed. Video here,
from Minute 23:09.
said, was the NATO's Secretary General has been misrepresenting this
"modest document... out of proportion," most recently at
the Munich Conference. Churkin said Russia had been "unpleasantly
surprised at the way it was done." It was done under UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
asked Churkin about Mr. Ban's naming
of Finland's Antti Turunen as
his Representative for Georgia, replacing Johan Verbeke of Belgium
does this mean that Georgia is still on the Security Council agenda?
"Technically it is," Churkin replied.
He said that
will represent the UN at the Geneva talks, and that his appointment
has the subject of a letter of information from Mr. Ban to the
President of the Security Council which didn't require a reply.
Finland's Stubb and Russia's Churkin, Turunen to
Georgia not shown
earlier on Tuesday Inner City Press asked WHO's Etienne Krug, does
the drive for better roads simply lead to more driving and pollution?
Inner City Press asked -- video here,
from Minute 8:39 -- but Krug
said that the UN is also in favor of more and safer public
Press also asked about the UN's own drive
practices. Krug said that road accidents are the leading cause of
death of UN staff worldwide, and that the UN should improve its
practices. But will it?