FM denies buying support in UN vote

FM denies buying 
   support in UN vote

November 17, 2008, Monday/ 18:29:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has denied claims that Turkey paid the membership dues of poor UN countries to buy their votes in an election last month for new non-permanent members of the Security Council.Babacan, responding to a formal question from an opposition deputy, said press reports that Turkey has helped some countries facing the risk of losing their voting rights in the world body by paying their unpaid dues were not accurate.

According to the UN Charter, a member state loses its right to vote in the General Assembly if it falls behind in the payment of its dues by an amount equal to its assessments for the two most recent years, unless the assembly decides that non-payment is a consequence of factors beyond the state's control.

Turkey won a seat at the 15-member UN Security Council in an election last month. Competing against Iceland and Austria for one of the two seats reserved for the Western Europe and Others Group, Turkey won the race by a wide margin, getting votes from 151 out of 192 countries. Turkey, which last held a seat on the Security Council in 1961, received 151 votes and Austria got 133, while Iceland was defeated with 87 votes. A two-thirds majority, or 128 seats, was needed to win.

Observers have widely attributed the success to Turkey's growing influence in regional politics and an intense lobbying campaign for the election. Babacan said in his written statement that Turkey has pursued an active policy not only in its relations with the neighboring countries but also in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Latin America.

He said Turkey had been lobbying effectively for election to the UN Security Council since 2003 as part of a definite schedule but denied paying other countries' dues to win their votes.

Babacan also touched on relations with Sudan, whose leader, Omar al-Bashir, was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity over Darfur, and said Turkey and Sudan had signed a series of agreements when the controversial Sudanese leader visited Turkey in January. The trade volume between the two countries was nearly $200 million by the end of 2007. He said the government wanted to expand ties with Africa to increase trade, explore new markets, locate alternative suppliers for raw materials and find allies in issues of international politics.

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