Former cabinet minister Joseph Deiss is expected to become the next president of the United Nations General Assembly after being named as western countries’ candidate.
Deiss was chosen as the official candidate for the office of president for the 65th General Assembly by the western regional group of countries, whose turn it is to pick the next head from amongst its ranks.
His candidacy will be presented at the assembly and an official election is due to take place in spring 2010 in the General Assembly.
Deiss was chosen ahead of Belgium’s proposed candidate, Louis Michel. The former European Commissioner expressed disappointment that some European countries had chosen the Swiss over him since Switzerland is not part of the European Union and "has some problems with European values".
Deiss saw the role as a chance to show that Switzerland was “ready to commit itself to play its full role as a UN member and actor in global public life”, he told La Liberté newspaper in November. He said he hoped to bring “the qualities one attributes to the Swiss, that is precision, rigour, the desire to find solutions” to the role.
He told the newspaper that Switzerland’s recent anti-minaret vote had not been an issue during the electoral campaign among the 28 western group countries.
Until the formal election, Deiss and his team plan to continue their work of “talking to and meeting a maximum number of countries”.
The Swiss cabinet first put forward his candidacy in September. In a statement released on Tuesday, the cabinet said it “warmly welcomes this vote of confidence” by the western group of countries and said Switzerland was convinced it had presented an “outstanding candidate”.
The position is currently held by Libyan diplomat Ali Abdussalam Treki.
swissinfo.ch and agencies