A few thoughts on Tuesday’s sessions of the UN General Assembly

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While of course the most anticipated speeches of the general debate are yet to come, it has started yesterday nonetheless.

The report of the Secretary General brought no surprise, he was emphasizing the same issues he was talking about before. I liked how straightforward and articulate he was about the most important ones. Regarding Syria he warned once again that the serious and growing threat to international peace and security requires Security Council action.

I particularly liked his thoughts about recent uprisings, saying that “moderate majority should not be a silent majority”. That should be true to both sides: for non-Muslims who condemn the desecration of others’ religious beliefs, and for Muslims who know that innocent people musn’t be hurt for the action of a few evil ones. As the Secretary General put it, the moderate majority must find the way to empower itself and say ‘you do not speak in my name’.

I liked the speech of the President of the 67th Session. I find Vuk Jeremic’s visions for the coming year quite respectable, that this Assembly with his leadership will go down in history as “an Assembly of Peace”. I hope he’ll be right!

The ones who expected President Obama’s speech to be in most part the foreign policy version of a campaign speech were quite right. It’s no wonder as well, that his main focus was on recent violence against the US in the Arab world. I agree with most of what he said: on one part “there is no speech that justifies mindless violence”. On the other he defended the American ideal of the freedom of speech in quite a unique way: “People are going to call me awful things every day, and I will defend their right to do so.” It is all very well said, but I also seem to understand why the Arab world is still not going to be satisfied after all.

I was paying attention to Cyprus’ and Georgia’s speeches because of their internationally relevant inner security issues. They both focused their speeches on these, as expected. Georgian President Saakashvili’s speech was quite a passionate one, I thought, speaking up against Russia mobilizing military forces against his country.

French President Francois Hollande’s speech was significant, France being member of the P5 in the Security Council. Besides emphasizing France’s long known position on Syria, for me it was a surprise element when he stated that France is going to recognize the provisional government representing the New Syria as soon as it is formed.

I was disappointed by the speech of my own president though. I was expecting to hear about Hungary’s position on some of those important world issues, but instead, Hungarian President János Áder (or I shall say the Hungarian leadership) for some reason decided to talk about water security and sanitation the whole time (well, almost the whole time, first he praised our new Constitution in a few lines). Of course, these are important issues as well, absolutely fit the occasion, since water security is on top of the UN’s agenda, but for me, listening to many of the speeches, he could have stood out there and read the recipe of paprika chicken, it would have had the same relevance.

It made me wonder whether Hungary really doesn’t have a take on recent world issues? We really don’t care that much? It’s interesting that first about 20 minutes after the speech, and ever since then I’ve been looking for reports in the Hungarian media, and cannot seem to find any. 

As I recall, Hungarian presidents addressing the UNGA have always made it to the news in no time in the past years, while now, President Áder’s facial expression on a photo with the Obamas seem to be more newsworthy than his speech. That should mean something.

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