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Next UN Head Touts Impartiality as Analysts Remain Cautiously Optimistic

© AFP 2023 / Jewel SAMADUN Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres speaks during the ceremony for the appointment of the Secretary-General during the 70th session of the General Assembly October 13, 2016 at the United Nations in New York
UN Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres speaks during the ceremony for the appointment of the Secretary-General during the 70th session of the General Assembly October 13, 2016 at the United Nations in New York - Sputnik International
With newly-elected UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres due to succeed Ban Ki-moon on January 1, 2017, Sputnik decided to look into the new UN chief's political image.

Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama at G20 Summit in Hangzhou, September 2016. - Sputnik International
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The candidacy of Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, was approved by the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

Guterres was Portugal's PM from 1995 to 2002, also serving as President of the Socialist International between 1999 and 2005.

Additionally, he was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.

But to hold the position of UN Secretary-General, it is important to combine relevant work experience with such traits as impartiality, according to RIA Novosti.

In this regard, the news agency said, Guterres seems to be eager to demonstrate that he is independent during his upcoming work as UN chief.

"I can say that I worked as UN High Commissioner for Refugees for ten years, something that stipulates being at the center of all world political crises and dealing with all parties to any conflict. I'm sincerely convinced that that I could always stick to the key values — impartiality, neutrality and independence," he told RIA Novosti.

He added that he believes in his being respected by "various parties in all circumstances", because he said "he has never been a tool used by some people against others."

"I have never been an instrument used by one of the parties for political purposes. And I would like to preserve this spirit during my new job," he added.

"For me it is more important to give clear guarantees that the UN Secretary-General takes this post to serve the world and to respect the UN Charter," he pointed out.

Meanwhile, many Russian experts have expressed cautious optimism about Guterres becoming the new UN Secretary-General.

Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, said that Guterres will effectively fulfill his duties as the new UN chief but that any breakthrough decisions during his work are unlikely.

In this vein, Lukyanov pointed to the protracted and covert procedure of electing the UN Secretary-General, which he said is accompanied by bargaining between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

He also stressed that "none of the heads of the great powers is interested in the UN Secretary General being too independent and too strong."

As for Guterres, he was approved by everyone, including Moscow, Lukyanov said, referring to Guterres's extensive experience in the UN structures and Portugal being a country which is "neutral enough."

"I think that Guterres could well be an effective manager rather than a vivid political figure. However, Guterres has experience that allows us to hope that he will cope with his new work, including issues related to reaching a consensus," Lukyanov said.

At the same time, he warned that Guterres will unlikely be able to bite off more than he can chew because "everything is in disarray and no UN Secretary-General can resolve it all by himself."

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Speaking to Sputnik earlier this week, Guterres, for his part, expressed hope that Russia and the United States could demonstrate their firm commitment to ensuring peace and making effective efforts to fight terrorism.

Pointing out that the UN Secretary-General is "not the leader of the world" but a chief administrator, Guterres nonetheless affirmed his intention to facilitate reconciliation between Moscow and Washington.

Antonio Guterres also told Sputnik that he welcomes renewed negotiations on Syria this weekend, noting the need to bring together the key figures in the conflict.

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