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Lithuania Says Next PGA Should Speak Russian, Accuses Serbia of Rule Breaking

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 -- The battle between Serbia and Lithuania for who will be the next President of the UN General Assembly has turned back from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, where Lithuania decided not to block Serbia, to the question of language.

  On February 7, Inner City Press exclusively reported that Lithuania had "broken silence" on the proposal for Serbia to take the lead of the OSCE in 2014-15. The next day Russia's Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin told Inner City Press this was "bad diplomatic practice," and that Serbia's Vuk Jeremic would be a strong candidate to "revitalize" the General Assembly.

  But later, another Serbian diplomat told Inner City Press that Lithuania's attempt to break silence had been rejected by the current Irish chief of the OSCE, while joking about the irony that Serbia's Jeremic is Western educated while Lithuania's Dalius Cekuolis went to the Institute of International Relations in Moscow.

  Lithuania, it emerges, has its side of the story, and we are happy to tell it. They argued to Inner City Press that the candidate of the Eastern European group for PGA should definitely speak Russian, as Cekuolis does but, they said, Jeremic doesn't.

Inner City Press on February 13 asked a Serbian diplomat about this and he laughed, asking "that is their argument?" and laughing again.

With class, Lithuania made clear at the OSCE that it was NOT engaging in any "tit for tat" (the phrase Inner City Press had used), and would not break silence on Serbia's bid to head the OSCE. Click here for that Lithuanian statement, which says in part:

"It is highly regrettable that one participating State aspiring to chair the OSCE has lately demonstrated the tendency to disregard rules and traditions as well as consensus building in another forum where compromise and consensus building are of no less importance. We refuse to give in to the logic of rules breaking and playing tit-for-tat. We also refuse to accept the logic of 'withdraw or else....' which some among this membership are trying to impose on us."

   They say they are taking the high road, and have offered an interview with their Permanent Representative and candidate Dalius Cekuolis.

(c) UN Photo
Ban Ki-moon and
Dalius Cekuolis, Vuk Jeremic not shown

  We'll look forward to that: in today's UN, there is not enough vetting of candidates, most recently leading to the appointment of Shavendra Silva, a General whose Division 58 is accused of war crimes in Ban Ki-moon's panel of experts report on Sri Lanka, as a "Senior Adviser" on Peacekeeping. The more interviews the better: watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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