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UNITED NATIONS, August 1. /TASS/. The decision to elect Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary-General in 2006 was very correct, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin believes. In an exclusive interview to TASS he pointed out that the current executive chief of the world organization voiced some "rather bold ideas" on a number of issues of late and was "immune to pressures."
"When the UN Secretary-General was being elected in 2006, the correct choice was made," Churkin said. "It is extremely important Ban Ki-moon established an open dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Churkin said that telephone and personal contacts between Ban Ki-moon and the Russian foreign minister were frequent.
Russia’s UN envoy says he has no problems in contacts with the UN Secretary-General.
"He works a lot, and when he is in New York, he is easily available," Churkin said adding he was unable to recall just a single instance in which after a telephone request for a meeting with Ban Ki-moon he would not be told within thirty minutes when such a meeting might take place.
"As a rule it happens later in the same day. If necessary, on Saturday or Sunday. If it is urgent, he can be contacted by telephone, even when he is out of New York," Churkin added.
As a rule Churkin meets with the UN Secretary-General in private. Ban Ki-moon is an attentive listener and takes the partner’s opinion into account, the Russian diplomat added.
"Generally speaking, I must say that the UN Secretary-General voiced some very bold ideas on a number of issues of late, and his comments may annoy the powers that be. He is a person who can listen. That is very important. But he is immune to pressures. In a number of cases he experienced such pressures, he was being told what to do and what not to do, but he invariably acted in line with his own ideas," Churkin said.
"The way I see it, the one who holds the position of UN Secretary-General is expected to display leadership qualities in the modern world, but at the same time such a person is unable to stay aloof from this sinful world altogether. Not to mention the fact that the Secretary-General does the bulk of his work - political work - on the basis of the decisions the UN Security Council makes."
Churkin remarked that the UN Secretary-General’s was a very daunting job and for this reason debates were on already over when, how, and who will be elected next year to this position. It is presumed that the new UN top executive should for the first time represent Eastern Europe.
"Ban Ki-moon was elected when it was Asia’s turn. Now the East European group (in at the United Nations) is keen to ensure that there should be someone from Eastern Europe," Churkin said, adding that some representatives from that group had dispatched a special message to the UN General Assembly president.
"We support them, but I address my colleagues with a reminder from time to time that when the Asian group elected Ban Ki-moon, Latvia proposed its own candidature Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who was one of the six candidates," Churkin said.
"At present there are several decent East European candidates. To my mind they are worthy people capable of leading the UN. There is one lady among them - Irina Bokova. More women candidates may emerge. Last time, when Ban Ki-moon was elected, everything went smoothly. The discussion began in July and agreement was achieved in early October. I cannot rule out that this time it will be a more complex affair," he concluded.