UN appoints new Middle East envoy

Current UN envoy to Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, will replace Robert Serry as Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

The United Nations has appointed a new envoy to the Middle East. Former Bulgarian defense minister and current UN envoy to Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council on Thursday to replace Robert Serry as Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, 42, has a reputation as a pro-Western and pro-democracy politician. From 2005-2007, he worked as a consultant to the World Bank, International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute in Afghanistan, Yemen, and other Middle Eastern countries. He then sat on the European Parliament, where he served as the first vice chairman of the EP delegation for relations with Iraq, and also participated in a delegation to Israel. He was appointed defense minister of Bulgaria in 2009, then served as foreign minister from 2010-2013, when he was selected to head the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.

The responsibility of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process is to represent the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, in dealing with the Palestinian Authority, as well as to serve as an envoy to the Quartet of mediators in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that Mladenov “brings with him extensive experience in public service and international affairs.”

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (L) and UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry, help Palestinians from the village of Turmus Aya during the annual olive harvest. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/FLASH90

Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad (L) and Robert Serry help Palestinians during the annual olive harvest. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/FLASH90

Mladenov replaces Robert Serry of the Netherlands, who has held the position since 2007. Serry’s reputation among Israelis was badly damaged this past summer, when he failed to personally condemn the kidnapping of 3 Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion, but did express concern over the methods used in Israel’s search for the victims, who were eventually found murdered. Just weeks prior to Operation Protective Edge, he was accused by the Israeli Foreign Ministry of working within the UN to transfer $20 million from Qatar to Hamas to pay salaries, leading Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare Serry persona non grata. Serry has generally been considered highly partial, issuing frequent condemnations of Israel while ignoring Palestinian violence.

Read  UAE calls emergency UN Security Council meeting, 'condemns Israeli operation' in Gaza

Israelis have reason to be hopeful that the new envoy will view their country with a friendlier eye. Mladenov was foreign minister of Bulgaria during the 2013 terrorist attack in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas, which killed five Israeli vacationers and a local bus driver. Bulgaria declared Hezbollah responsible for the bombing. When asked by reporters if he felt that the EU ought to blacklist Hezbollah, Mladenov replied, “Given the fact that we’ve already made quite firm statements about where we believe the responsibility for that attack lies, I think the answer is quite obvious.”

By World Israel News staff