Czech Republic quits UN Security Council election, Croatia prevails

United Nations Security Council

What seemed to be a matter of fact turned into a defeat for Czech diplomats at the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. The Czech Republic's bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council of the UN ended without success. Czechs withdrew their candidacy into the Security Council after the second voting round results indicated that an increasing number of countries supported Croatia, the other candidate for the post.

The elections held at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday turned bitter for the Czech Republic as the country failed to secure a non-permanent seat at the organization's Security Council. Czech diplomats had been directly competing with Croatia to occupy the post for a two-year term beginning in 2009, and after the second round of voting, they withdrew the Czech candidacy. Martin Povejsil, the political director at the Czech Foreign Ministry, admits that the outcome was unexpected.

"We yet have to look into that in more detail and analyze it to draw solid consequences. The fact is that something went wrong in the very first round because there the difference was practically two countries that slid away from the Czech Republic in favour of Croatia. Consequently, the tendency was set then by the second round, which was natural. So I would say that after the first round of voting, the result was not surprising anymore. A real surprise to us was the result of the first vote which was a very narrow victory for Croatia."

Mirek Topolanek in New York, photo: CTK
In the first round, the Czech Republic received 91 votes, while Croatia got 95. Neither of the candidates managed to obtain the required two thirds of all the votes, and the election procedure went to the second round. There Croatia prevailed with 106 votes, compared to 86 votes for the Czechs. That made the Czech representatives withdraw their candidacy altogether. Wasn't it perhaps too early to give in? Martin Povejsil again.

"No, I don't really think so because if you just look at the results of the first and second rounds, we could see a clearly increasing difference between the two rounds. Extending the voting procedure would only make it longer but our estimate was that it would not change the tendency."

Before the election, both Croatia and the Czech Republic claimed to have secured the support of some 100 countries represented at the General Assembly. This was actually impossible because the Assembly only has 192 members and it was the Czech Republic that was over-optimistic. Looking at the possible reasons of the defeat, Martin Povejsil denies that Czech candidacy could have been harmed by the a speech given by President Vaclav Klaus at the General Assembly last month in which he questioned the widely accepted belief that mankind is responsible for global warming.

"The reasons behind these elections results are probably deeper that this. Some of them appear at first glance already. It is a fact that the Croatians started an active and intensive campaigning much earlier than we did. That's one fact. The other one is that Croatia made adequate benefit of the fact that it is a country that has never been represented on the Security Council. That, of course, in the big, general perception among UN member states is a very strong asset. As for other reasons, I think that we need a deeper analysis."