Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir officially assumed the presidency of UN General Assembly on Tuesday for its 75th session. 

“I am proud on behalf of my country, nation and person. I will work to exhibit an effective and distinctive Presidency,” Bozkir wrote on Twitter.

Bozkir is the first Turk to head the General Assembly. He will hold the post for one year.

In remarks at UN headquarters as he closed the 74th session of the General Assembly, he said the group has urgent priorities, including the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our masks remind us of the very serious threat we face. They remind us of the lives we have lost and the challenges we need to overcome. They remind us we are in this together,” he said.

Bozkir said critics of multilateralism have been more vocal since the onset of the disease and the pandemic has been used to justify unilateral steps and weaken the rules-based international system.

“The need for international cooperation has been questioned. These criticisms are not baseless but their conclusions are misguided. Make no mistake! No state can combat this pandemic alone. Social distancing will not help at the international level.

“Unilateralism will only strengthen the pandemic. It will move us further away from our shared goal,” he said and called for responsibility to strengthen faith in multilateral cooperation and international institutions with the UN at the center.

Bozkir was first elected to the Turkish legislature in 2011, following nearly 40 years in the foreign service which included posts in Germany, New York, Baghdad and Romania.

In the 2000s, Bozkir was Turkey’s Ambassador to the European Union and worked as a Deputy Secretary-General and Secretary-General for EU Affairs in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

He also served as Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs and chief negotiator for EU accession between 2014 and 2016.

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