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UNITED NATIONS, October 25 (Itar-Tass) — Azerbaijan has for the first time in its history been elected non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. As a result of voting held at the UN General Assembly on Monday, Azerbaijan won 155 votes of more than two-thirds of the present in the hall and voting delegates of the UN General Assembly that comprises 193 member states. Slovenia that competed with it for membership from the group of East European countries, withdrew its candidacy after 16 rounds of voting, when the gap between the two candidatures widened to nearly 40 votes.
The election of non-permanent Security Council members began in the UN General Assembly on October 21. However, the delegates succeeded on that day to elect only four of the five non-permanent members that will replace Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria, whose terms expire on December 31, 2011. They will be replaced by Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo. The remained vacant seat from the group of East European countries was claimed by Baku and Ljubljana.
Despite the nine rounds of voting held on Friday, neither Azerbaijan, nor Slovenia managed to enlist the support of the required number of delegates. Although even then it was obvious that Baku is slowly but steadily gaining the upper hand. Thus, during the 9th round Azerbaijan won 113 votes, and Slovenia - 77. The Azerbaijani delegation was set to continue the election. This was met with an active resistance of Slovenia that was losing votes and France that hoped with its election to increase the European Union representation in the Security Council. Finally, President of the 66th General Assembly session, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (Qatar) due to the late hour declared the meeting closed and appointed a continuation of the election on Monday.
“Our campaign was always for Slovenia, for the values that we represent. We were never campaigning against any other candidate,” said Samuel Zbogar, Slovenia’s foreign minister, by way of announcing his country’s decision to withdraw. “We don’t approve (of) the way this campaign was held and we don’t approve (of) the way these elections were held. However, the current result speaks for itself,” he said. When contacted by CNN later to elaborate on the county's objections, the Slovenian Mission to the United Nations declined to elaborate.
Representatives from various countries lined up to extend their sympathies to the losing candidate. Slovenia entered the race for a Security Council seat some 11 years ago, CNN reported. Starting in January, the council will have as members seven of the nine nations known to have nuclear weapons: China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Absent will be Israel and North Korea.
The UN Security Council has five permanent members - Britain, China, Russia, the United States and France - and 10 rotating members that are elected for a term of two years. In contrast to the “Big Five,” they do not have the veto power.
The candidates for election are nominated by the so-called regional groups. The election is held by secret ballot.
The elected on Friday and Monday Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo will join the second “five” of non-permanent UN SC members - Colombia, Germany, Portugal, India and South Africa, whose terms expire next year.
“You know perfectly well what we feel, after 17 rounds of voting,” tired, but happy Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov, who led his country's delegation to the election in the Un General Assembly, told Itar-Tass. “Frankly, we expected that we will be elected,” he admitted.
Asked by Itar-Tass which theme will become central for Azerbaijan during its forthcoming two-year membership in the UN Security Council, Mamedyarov said that it was too early to speak about it. “We will carefully follow all the problems discussed by the UN Security Council,” he said.
At the same time, the Azerbaijani foreign minister stressed that “one of the most important elements for the UN Security Council is the maintenance of peace and security, as enshrined in the UN Charter.” “We consider this one of the most important issues,” he stated. Mamedyarov called sustainable development “another very important element to which Azerbaijan is committed.” “As a country that has attained major progress in the economic development we realise that we need to share our wealth with less developed countries," he noted. He named the protection of the environment among other important issues for his country. This issue, he said, “deserves more careful attention.” As for such phenomenon and multiculturalism, the minister said that in this sphere Azerbaijan “has something to share with other UN member countries, and not only within the framework of the UN Security Council, but also within the General Assembly.”