Former Bulgarian FM picked as new UN special Mideast envoy

After Serry, a new type of United Nations special Mideast envoy may be on his way to Israel.

February 5, 2015 20:05
1 minute read.
Nickolay Mladenov

Nickolay Mladenov. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/MFA BULGARIA)

A new type of UN special Mideast envoy may be on his way to Israel.

On Thursday the UN named former Bulgarian foreign minister Nickolay Mladenov as the replacement for Robert Serry. Serry had a very rocky relationship during his more than six years here, culminating in Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman saying last summer he should be declared persona non grata for allegations that – despite both Israeli and PA opposition – he worked inside the UN to transfer $20 million from Qatar to pay Hamas salaries.

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By contrast, Mladenov said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post in 2010 that European foreign ministers do not always have a fair understanding of what Israel is up against, and that Turkey reacted “a little bit too strongly” to that year’s Mavi Marmara incident.

In that interview, Mladenov said “many countries have lost the sensitivity to the difficult security environment in which Israel lives. We often say that ‘we recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns,’ but I sometimes wonder if we all know what stands behind these words.”

Mladenov added it was important for people to understand those concerns, and what it was like living in a place like Sderot under the Kassam threat, or “what does it mean to live in constant fear that somebody might decide to blow themselves up in the street, or what does it mean to live in the fundamental fear that there is a another country in the world that says it wants to destroy you as a country.”

Having said that, the Bulgarian diplomat added that providing security for one’s own people “doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t look a little bit beyond the horizon and see what is the framework in which you can resolve this conflict in the longer run,” and that it was important to consider the difficulties facing the Palestinians as well.

Mladenov is coming to his new position from Iraq, where he was the UN’s special envoy there. He served for three years as Bulgaria’s foreign minister, and two years as its defense minister.

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