I would like to express my deep disappointment at a number of cases in which Albania abused its prerogatives as President of the Security Council.

The President called a Security Council meeting on 28 June following a request from Ukraine. This has been a matter of protracted discussion among the members of the Council on the application of rule 3 of the provisional rules of procedure. There are multiple examples of situations in which a request for a meeting was filed by a Member State, but no meeting was called for by a member of the Council and thus none was convened. In such cases, the President should consult the members of the Council. This was not done. In the event that the President was applying rule 1 of the provisional rules of procedure, then the President should also have consulted the members of the Council. This was not done either. Only after a reminder that, as President, Albania does not rule the Council alone, the Albanian delegation informed other members of the Council that it and the United States supported the request of Ukraine.

During the above-mentioned meeting on Ukraine, held on 28 June, the President of the Security Council granted virtual participation to Mr. V. Zelenskyy under rule 37 of the provisional rules of procedure. This runs counter to established practice, and the principle that all Member States invited to address the Council in accordance with rule 37 should do so in person was ignored. By allowing Mr. V. Zelenskyy’s participation by video link under the pretext that “this is an exceptional case that would not constitute a precedent for future participation of Member States under rule 37”, the Albanian President in fact repeated the practice of the United Kingdom while it held the presidency for the month of April, when Mr. V. Zelenskyy also appeared before the Council by video link. We would like to draw attention to the fact that such “exceptions” are made only for one Member State and that, under previous presidencies, such requests from other Member States were declined. To our knowledge, during its presidency in the month of June, Albania also denied participation by video link to at least one Member State, but not to Ukraine. Such an approach demonstrates that Albania exploited its prerogatives as President in a biased manner.

We would like to stress that Mr. V. Zelenskyy’s virtual participation should not be viewed as a precedent for the future work of the Council and strongly call upon future Presidents not to misuse the rules of procedure.

Yet, during the meeting held on 28 June, another breach of Security Council practices was committed. After concluding his address, Mr. V. Zelenskyy announced a minute of silence. The Albanian President did not react to this call. However, any such actions of the Council, including the observation of silence, should be called for by the President and after consultations with the members of the Council. It was the second time during the Albanian presidency that a moment of silence was introduced without prior notice.

It is worth mentioning that, sadly, all this happened against the backdrop of the open debate of the Security Council on the implementation of the note by the President of the Council on working methods (S/2017/507) held on the same day. We also cannot help but recall that Albania is the Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions. Knowing that open debates continue through more than one meeting, and given the number of Member States wishing to take the floor on the matter, the Albanian President nevertheless decided to squeeze in the meeting on Ukraine. Rather than postponing the second part of the open debate to a later date (and this was the understanding from the beginning, since the provisional programme of work allowed it) or scheduling the meeting on Ukraine after the open debate, the Albanian President forced the remaining delegations on the speakers list for the open debate to rush owing to time constraints. We believe that those delegations could have been treated with more respect.

Unfortunately, today the Albanian presidency was again marred by the choice of the President of a civil society briefer for the Security Council meeting on Syria, held on 29 June. It is unacceptable that the briefer used foul language, insulted Member States and addressed unfounded accusations. His actor-like behaviour obviously did not contribute to the discussion of an important matter and rather cast doubt on the real intentions of the President when inviting him. This is a clear indication that we need to reconsider our approach to the question of the presence of civil society representatives at Council meetings in order to exclude such incidents.

I would be grateful if the present letter could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.