Sunday, June 15, 2008

UNESCO candidate from Egypt says ready to visit Israel

The election for the next Director General of UNESCO will take place next year. The position of Director General is always important for an organization in the United Nations system, but the Director General of UNESCO was given especially great authority (at the behest of the United States) when the organization was created. The next Director General will, it is hoped, continue the reforms initiated by D.G. Matsuura, but will also provide a charismatic and informed leadership as the organization moves to confront new challenges in international education, science, culture and communications.

The change in administration in the United States in 2009 will mean that new U.S. leadership wil be asked to act quickly to seek to assure that the new Director General is acceptable to United States interests.

Since there is an informal consensus among member nations that the position should rotate from region to region it seems likely that the next Director General will be elected from an Islamic nation, and the Egyptian Minister of Culture, Faruq Hosni, has been seen as a strong candidate. Minister Faruq is walking a fine line to satisfy the more radical constituents in his own and other Arab nations but also to demonstrate he is sufficiently moderate to suit the rest of the world.

He recently stated in an interview with an Israeli reporter that he would be willing to visit Israel:

"If you invite me, if you send me an invitation, I will come," he told Israel's mass-circulation newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

But Hosni warned that such a visit should be "carefully prepared, up to the last detail," because of the outcry it would create in Egypt.

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