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UN Envoy Nimitz Heads to Vienna Feb 13, Admitted Saxo Bank Stake, Said UNaware of Greek Sub

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 12 – The UN has had an envoy on the so-called "name issue" between Greece and Macedonia or FYROM for years: Matthew Nimitz. Inner City Press has previously reported on his conflict of interest, but got the chance on January 17 to ask him about it. Nimitz admitted his long time employer General Atlantic's stake in Saxo Bank but said he was unaware of its Greek subsidiary. Assuming arguendo that's the case, Inner City Press then asked the UN's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric why the UN's "Ethics" office didn't even Google Saxo Bank and the parties Nimetz had been mediating between. UN transcript here and below. On February 12, the UN announced that "Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, will meet jointly with H.E. Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, and H.E. Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at the United Nations Office at Vienna on 13 February 2018. The meeting is part of United Nations efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the 'name' issue." On and on with Nimetz. On January 24, the UN without addressing the issue announced that "At the invitation of the Governments of the Hellenic Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, will travel to Athens and Skopje from 29 January to 1 February 2018. The visit is part of United Nations efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name” issue. " From the January 17 UN transcript: Inner City Press: at this Nimetz stakeout just now, I'd asked him about whether during his time with General Atlantic investment firm, he ever had a con… recused himself or had a conflict of interest.  And he said… he acknowledged that… that they had invested in something called Saxo Bank but said he didn't know they had a Greek subsidiary.  They do.  You can just go online and find it. So, what I wanted… what it made me won… think, it was good that he answered it, but who's in charge of looking at the potential financial conflict of interest of UN envoys like him? And I'm thinking of… there are a number of other ones. [Yemen, Burundi, Cameroon / UNOCA, UNOWA, etc.]  Is it self-regulation… Spokesman:  Obviously, all the envoys… all the envoys deal with the Ethics Office.  They are given advice.  They ask questions.  And, obviously, we expect… we expect them to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.  And I think Mr.  Nimetz was very open and transparent in answering this question, he also made the point that he no longer works for the company. Inner City Press: Right.  I agree, but it leaves me with the question, if he tells the Ethics Office, my firm at the time invests in Saxo Bank, who's the one that's supposed to just do a Google search to find the subsidiaries of Saxo Bank and find that one is in Greece? Spokesman:  Well, I think the… you know, I don't know about this particular case, but, obviously, our colleagues also look into each individual case." But that didn't, here.  When Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias spoke this week of resolving the issue this year, the reporting included no mention of the UN. So on January 4 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: the Foreign Minister of Greece, Mr. Kotzias, had sat down with reporters and said that the name issue he expects to be solved in 2018, saying this would remove a roadblock for former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Anyway, at least as written up, the interview doesn't even mention Mr. Nimetz.  And I'm wondering, can you give some description of what… I know he's been on this file for a long time.  What's he been doing recently?  And why would it be that the Greek Foreign Minister, in addressing the issue, the UN didn't even seem to be part of the picture? Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have to clarify what the Greek Foreign Minister would say.  That's really up to him.  For our part, Mr. Nimetz has been going about his work.  We've always announced whenever there are meetings conducted on the name issue, and we'll announce the next one whenever we have the time to give." How much is this costing? What with the conflict of interest? Now a week later on January 11, this: "Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, is scheduled to meet with Representatives of the Governments of the Hellenic Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at the United Nations in New York, on 17 January 2018. The meeting is part of the United Nations’ efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the 'name' issue." Back in July 2017 amid the UN bribery case against Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng began, and following a UN Security Council visit to Haiti in which victims of the UN's cholera criticized the failure to follow though on individual reparations, Secretary General Antonio Guterres on June 28 announced that his Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Matthew Nimetz would travel to Skopje from July 1-4 and then to Greece. UNsaid was that Nimetz is an advisory director of General Atlantic, which has a stake in a Danish bank, Saxo Bank, with a Greek subsidiary. Isn't this a conflict of interest? How does it relate to Nimetz' July 3 announcement, typical of today UN, that  after meeting FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov he "does not expect any dramatic breakthrough on the issue during the coming months"? Inner City Press inquired about conflict of interest with Secretary General Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who said it has all been disclosed. And? Now on July 14, this: "At the invitation of the Government of the Hellenic Republic, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, is scheduled to meet with His Excellency Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs, in Brussels, Belgium, on 17 July 2017. The purpose of the meeting, which follows the visit of Mr. Nimetz to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia earlier in July, is to discuss the way forward in the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" issue." From the UN's June 28  transcript: Inner City Press: you said Mr. Nimetz, and I know he's been in the post a long time, but I've just sort of re-reviewed it, that he's going to Skopje and then may go to Greece.  He's still an advisory director to General Atlantic, where he's worked in the past, so it's a financial commitment that he has.  They actually have a stake in a bank that's in Greece, and I wanted to know -- from the outside, it seems like this might be problematic, I mean, or is it something that he disclosed to the Ethics Office?

Spokesman:  I think everything has been disclosed. 

  And? On June 27 Guterres headed to Washington on June 27. But UNlike the US, the UN did not disclose the dinner for Guterres hosted by Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. And now for June 28, while the US states that Rex Tillerson will meet Guterres at 1:10 pm, the UN has said nothing. It's "Daily Schedule" for Guterres is still dated June 24. The UN is UNtransparent and corrupt, a censor. The UN states: " The Secretary-General will travel to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, 27 June. This visit is part of the Secretary-General's ongoing outreach to Washington and other capitals. He is expected to meet with Democratic and Republican leaders, as well as with members of the foreign affairs and appropriations committees of both the House and the Senate. He will also be meeting with senior members of the President's cabinet." Tillerson will be at the Kuwaiti dinner. Who else? And given the composition of Guterres' previous US Congressional meetings (click here for Inner City Press coverage), who will he be meeting with? This should be disclosed. When Guterres held a press conference on June 20, Inner City Press about the UN having brought cholera to Haiti under his predecessor Ban Ki-moon but now reneging even on what Ban belatedly proposed for individual reparations. Inner City Press mentioned upcoming protests in Haiti that it will be covering from there, June 22 and 23. Guterres announced that he was just then - minutes later the announcement went out - naming as a new special envoy on Haiti Josette Sheeran, formerly the director of the UN World Food Program and now the head of the Asia Society. Video here. Transcript here and below. He seemed to say the UN was never going to compensate individuals or families impacted by the cholera the UN brought. On June 21 Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to clarify. UN Video here, from Minute 16:21. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: this was something that the Secretary-General said on the record when I asked him about the seeming change in the cholera in Haiti plan.  And he said that that policy was announced by his predecessor and had two dimensions; one is fighting cholera, and the other is the possibility to support communities impacted.  It was devised not as individual support.  And just, since then, I went back and actually looked at the November A/71/620 document, and there’s a whole section on individual support.  It was called track 2B.  So I just wanted to--

Deputy Spokesman:  And I was here at the time.  And I remember the discussions that the former Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, had about this.  And, at that point, it was not determined whether it would be individual or community-based.  Even at that point, I believe the discussion was towards community-based.  So that’s something that’s… a process that’s been crafted.

Inner City Press:  I wish I’d had that document in front of me when he answered, because there are many people that are in Haiti that have seen the new announcement made by Amina Mohammed as a retrenchment, as a taking back of that before even consulting people.  Mario Joseph and others have put out a press release; they’re protesting on Thursday.  So I wanted to just get your quote before that protest, that at one time the idea of individual reparations to people harmed by cholera was in a UN document as being considered and it’s now not being considered at all?

Deputy Spokesman:  I wouldn’t say that it’s not being considered at all.  And I wouldn’t say that initially it was something that was devised as the primary idea.  This is something that’s been under consideration.  It remains under consideration, but the primary focus, for reasons that were described at the end of last year and again at the start of this year, have been community-based.  And if you look at what Ban Ki-moon said in December, again, it mentions the community-based approach.

  But the UN document in November 2016 has a Track 2B, individual. Here's the beginning of the press release for the protests: "Port-au-Prince: Haitian cholera victims and their advocates called on the UN Security Council to deliver on the promise of a new, victim-centered approach to cholera during its visit to Haiti this week, by meeting directly with victims and committing to funding the $400 million initiative before MINUSTAH --the peacekeeping mission that caused the cholera epidemic—pulls out in October. 'The UN’s apology and promises were promising in December,' said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) that has led the fight for justice for cholera victims. 'But seven months later, with only a pittance raised for the so-called "New Approach" and not a single promised consultation with the cholera victims, they look like empty public relations gestures. It is time for the UN to deliver.' The 15-member Security Council is in Haiti from June 22-24 to finalize the transition from MINUSTAH to a new mission focused on supporting justice that will be known as MINUJUSTH. The BAI announced two protests during the visit: one at the UN logistics base in Haiti on Thursday at 11 am, and a second one in Champs de Mars on Friday at 11." We'll have more on this: Inner City Press will be accompanying and covering, in as much detail as possible, the UN Security Council's visit to Haiti from June 22 to 24. Watch this site.

Footnote: on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, to which Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric does NOT "lend" the briefing room and which has never and will never ask for a journalist to be thrown out or restricted, Inner City Press urged Guterres to more routinely take questions, for example on his way in and out of the Security Council. We'll see.

From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: Matthew Lee, Inner City Press. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, thanks for the briefing. Glad to have it. Stakeouts would also be useful when you speak to the Council.  But I wanted to ask you about cholera in Haiti. As you may know, while you were away, your deputy gave... gave the speech, and many people in Haiti interpreted it as a... as a pulling back from the idea of compensating victims of the cholera that was brought. Maybe they misunderstand it, but they put out a press release. There's a protest planned there on Thursday during the Council's visit.  So I wanted to ask you, I know that Member States haven't come forward with what they might have, but are you going to put more time in? Do you think that the idea of actually compensating the people whose family members were killed by cholera is still alive?

Secretary-General:  First of all, in relation to Haiti, the policy that was announced by my predecessor had two dimensions. One is fighting cholera, and the other is the possibility to support, namely, to support communities impacted. It was devised, not as individual support, but community support for the communities impacted.  As you mentioned, there has been little voluntary funding for these projects. So we have presented a proposal for the amounts that were not spent in the previous mission in Haiti and that should be given back to countries, for countries to be ready to accept not to receive those amounts back in order to be able to fund the cholera programme.  And, at the same time, we have just appointed Ms. Josette Sheeran as my Special Envoy for Haiti, centred, of course, in the fundraising for cholera. She was, as you know, the World Food Programme leader a few years ago. She is now President of the Asia Society, and she accepted, with a salary of $1 per year, she accepted to be fully engaged in fundraising for a programme that, indeed, until now, has received very little support but that is very important from the point of view of the people and from the point of view of the credibility of the UN. 


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