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UN: Romanian Foreign Minister Expects Eventful Security Council Agenda

Rozvan Ungureanu in New York on 16 September Romania chairs the United Nations Security Council next month. It will be a time of intensive discussions over Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, among other issues. Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu prepared by meeting his counterparts from Arab and Muslim states on the sidelines of the UN summit in New York last week. He told reporters he was encouraged by the growing cohesion on antiterror efforts at the summit, although he said member states need to follow through with genuine reforms to help the UN cope with a range of threats.

United Nations, 19 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu says assessing the UN summit is like determining whether a glass is half-full or half-empty.

He found the UN’s 60th anniversary summit helpful in galvanizing consensus on terrorism and development issues. But in an interview on 16 September, the summit's last day, the Romanian minister also said there were few concrete achievements to point to.

“It is true that in terms of formal practical results, the summit this year wasn’t so productive. There [were] just a couple of conventions that were signed by the heads of state, there was no overall agreement about the very definition of terrorism. Hot potatoes, hot issues were actually relinquished to the expert level again,” Ungureanu said.

In a special Security Council session, Romanian President Traian Basescu cast one of the unanimous votes approving a resolution calling on states to enact laws against incitement of terrorist acts. But both Basescu and Ungureanu pointed out that the UN remains deadlocked over a definition of terrorism, and thus cannot complete a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
"But we need to put stress on [the body's] efficacy, on its efficiency, and without this kind of quality all works within councils or committees referring to human rights is useless." -- Ungureanu

Likewise, the summit outcome document adopted on 16 September noted the responsibility of nations to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. But it deferred a decision on overhauling the discredited Human Rights Commission to the General Assembly, where Ungureanu said action must be taken.

“What should be done in this respect is to reinvent the institution within the UN. I don’t know whether it would go into something better. It’s a pending matter. But we need to put stress on [the body's] efficacy, on its efficiency, and without this kind of quality all works within councils or committees referring to human rights is useless,” Ungureanu said.

With leaders still speaking from the General Assembly podium on 16 Sepptember, Ungureanu admitted he was preoccupied with planning for his country's presidency of the Security Council in October. It will be the last time Romania chairs the powerful body during its current two-year term.

The council is likely to discuss Iraq, which has a referendum on its constitution planned for October, as well as Afghanistan, which is about to enter a new postconflict phase following parliamentary elections. Ungureanu met with the foreign ministers of both states on the sidelines of the UN summit.

Romania has nearly 900 stabilization forces apiece deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those countries already figure prominently in Romania's domestic planning.

So does the UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo, which will become a hot issue soon with the pending release of a report on whether to move ahead with final-status negotiations.

Ungureanu says with its Balkan ties, Romania can help facilitate dialogue on Kosovo and wants to make sure as many regional voices as possible are heard, especially Albania's. In the end, he said, the council will need to balance minority rights with the organization of a reliable local administration in ethnic-Albanian-dominated Kosovo.

"We have to accommodate Belgrade’s insights and politics and I think that we can then -- when taking into account everyone’s interests -- I think we can find a friendly compromise over the issue while respecting the basic principles, the basic human rights, liberties in Kosovo,” Ungureanu said.

The council next month could also take up the case of Iran's nuclear program, which will be discussed by the board of governors of the UN's nuclear agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), today (19 September). If IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei's next report to the board contains more troubling information about Iran's nuclear program, it may refer the matter to the Security Council, Ungureanu told RFE/RL (see Europeans Wait To Hear President Ahmadinejad's Ideas On Nuclear Dispute).

“Then almost certainly we’ll have the [Iran] file put up to the attention of the Security Council, and then we’ll have to see how can we wind up the situation in such a way that Iran will listen to the requirements of the international community. I think it is important from this point of view to have the real wording and honest discussion about the consequences of understanding what our expectations are and how they should come up to them,” Ungureanu said.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on 17 September proposed a partnership with private and public sectors of other countries on uranium enrichment. Western powers have rejected this idea in the past.