Kavan getting ready for UN post

Jan Kavan

The name of the former Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has recently been appearing in the media mainly in connection with an alleged murder plot involving Mr Kavan's former senior aide at the Ministry. But the scandal has overshadowed the fact that Mr Kavan is soon to assume a senior post in the United Nations. Last month, Jan Kavan was elected President of the UN General Assembly for the coming year. Before he assumes his role as President upon the opening of the 57th session on September 10, Mr Kavan is busy preparing for his new responsibilities. Pavla Horakova reports.

Jan Kvan, photo: CTK
In addition to his post as President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Kavan was until recently also a Czech representative to the convention on the future of the European Union and he remains a member of the lower house of the Czech parliament. Amid the recent scandal, many politicians in the country called for a thorough investigation of the affair and some also called for Mr Kavan to resign. Mr Kavan indeed decided to give up his EU post stating time pressure as th e main reason. Mr Kavan is spending a lot of time in New York now but has to return to Prague to take part in important sessions and votes in the Czech lower house. On one such occasion, I spoke to him and asked him about his activities ahead of the demanding task.

"At the moment I'm preparing for that role which includes setting up my team, acquiring through consultation experience and knowledge from my predecessors both from the Korean team but also from the earlier Finnish team. I went to New York, consulted dozens of important ambassadors, including the majority of representatives on the Security Council. And of course, I discussed it both with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and with his own secretariat because I believe the two secretariats should work very closely together."

Mr. Kavan, who is the first Czech to hold the post of President of the General Assembly, expects to boost the international prestige of the Czech Republic. He told me that his team had prepared detailed documentation on the Czech priorities for the year. Although Mr Kavan will officially announce the priorities of the Czech presidency on the 10th of September, he disclosed some of them to Radio Prague.

"The first one is international cooperation and development which really means a thorough consistent attempt to implement as much as possible from the Millennium Declaration, from the Monterrey Consensus and from the forthcoming Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development, and implement in particular those provisions which would lead to narrowing of the gap between the rich and poor countries. Because I do strongly believe that although poverty on its own is not the only ingredient responsible for fertile soil for international terrorism, for example, however, if you combine poverty with, for example, unsolved political problems for many years, feelings of frustration, powerlessness etc., you have a very fertile mixture for international terrorism."

Apart from the foremost task of the United Nations, which is the maintenance of peace and security, including conflict prevention and the fight against terrorism, Mr Kavan wants to make special efforts to make the work of the Assembly more dynamic, the ongoing process of United Nations reform more efficient, and the entire Organisation more coherent.