Format of special session on coronavirus to be discussed shortly - UN envoy

Moscow, July 10, AZERTAC

Practical discussion regarding a special session on coronavirus of the UN General Assembly, initiated by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, will begin shortly, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said in an open interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman on Thursday.

The Russian diplomat emphasized that the pandemic had caught the world by surprise. "We were not ready for it," he said. "We have adapted to it with difficulty, but we don’t know yet all consequences - economic, political, social, medical and maybe even psychiatric," Nebenzya said. "If we knew that we would get back to normalcy in the foreseeable future, there would be no questions - we would gather in the hall of the General Assembly to hold such a meeting. But if this fails to happen, we must think how to ensure the integrity of the process from the procedural point of view," he added.

"This, in fact, is not a hitch but a question, and it has not been discussed in practical terms as of yet," Nebenzya said. "I think we will start doing this shortly," he added.

He reiterated that earlier, the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev was supported by the number of UN member countries required to organize the event. In the meantime, however, the pandemic itself stands in the way. "The modalities are at issue," he noted. "We have no experience in holding UN General Assembly sessions online. There are no sessions of the General Assembly at the moment. The sessions that take place are not official meetings of this main body of the UN, which is why the issue must be discussed," the UN ambassador added.

He believes there are possibilities for organizing the event. "I think, yes," he said in reply to the respective question. "Before or after a regular [session] - this is the question of the format. If this won’t be a special session of the General Assembly, but a high-level session - there is such a format that does not require a special procedure - then we can hold it shortly. But a special session of the General Assembly sounds more important and politically significant, of course. So we will think and, most importantly, focus on what opportunities and formats life will present," he added.

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