Proof that at the UN diplomats often do not think

Indian Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krish...

Image via Wikipedia

When making his speech at the UN Security Council, the Indian External Affairs minister S. M. Krishna started by reading the speech of the Portuguese Foreign Minister instead of his own. It took three whole minutes before another member of the Indian delegation stopped him and asked him to start again!!

One wonders how long the Minister would have continued before realising it was not his own speech. One wonders also if his colleagues were sleeping if it took them 3 minutes to realise what was happening. Of course UN speeches are so full of platitudes and phrases “signifying nothing” that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish one speech from another.

Another confirmation of my belief that the UN is not a place given to thought but serves only for reading out prepared positions by rote (prepared by others of course). Neither politicians / ministers, diplomats or their speech writers come out with much credit.

India Today has the story:

While delivering his speech at the UNSC, Krishna read out portions of the Portuguese foreign minister’s speech instead.

The occasion was significant as it was the Indian foreign minister’s first speech at the UNSC after New Delhi entered the coveted body on January 1 as a non-permanent member after nearly two decades.

Krishna was scheduled to speak after his Portuguese counterpart Luis Amado at a session on Friday on ‘Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Interdependence between Security and Development’. Portugal has also been elected to the UNSC for a two- year period.

As soon as the minister started speaking, almost everyone present realised that he was reading from Amado’s speech, as a few lines were out of place. Krishna apparently did not realise his mistake and went on.

“On a more personal note, allow me to express my profound satisfaction regarding the happy coincidence of having two members of the Portuguese Speaking Countries, Brazil and Portugal, together here today,” the minister said as a horrified Indian contingent watched. “The European Union is also responding in this manner in coordination with the United Nations.”

It was after three minutes that India’s permanent representative to the UN, Hardeep Puri, intervened and asked him to start afresh.

Clearly embarrassed, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Saturday tried to play down the minister’s gaffe.

It insisted that the “mistake” was not so crucial because the initial paragraph of all formal addresses contains ” certain salutations and courteous references and he had used such expressions from the address of the previous speaker”. Sources in the MEA said it was a “genuine” mistake. Amado had delivered an extempore speech and its written summary was distributed to all other 14 ministers of the UNSC members and five invitee ministers.

Krishna spoke immediately after Amado and he mixed the text of his own speech with the summary of what the Portugese minister had said. The copy of Amado’s speech in a folder did not bear either his name or the name of his country. Hence, the ” honest and inadvertent mistake”, a source said.

A former foreign minister, who did not wish to be named, put the blame on the Indian diplomats and ministerial staff present. “They should have alerted the minister within a few seconds. It was their responsibility to ensure that he had the correct speech before he began,” he said. Apart from Puri, other Indian diplomats present included MEA additional secretary (international organisations) Dilip Sinha and adviser to the minister Raghavendra Shastry. All of them were sitting right behind Krishna.


Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: