CAIRO: Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni is now the only Arab candidate vying for the position of UNESCO’s director general, when Algerian candidate Mohamed Bedgawy withdrew from the race.
On Tuesday, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci informed his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit that Bedgawy will no longer be competing for the prestigious position.
Aboul Gheit was optimistic that this would help Hosni garner support from the entire region, thus increasing his chances of winning, a foreign ministry press statement said.
The African committee for nominations held a meeting in the Libyan city of Sirte to announce its endorsement of Hosni’s nomination as the African candidate. The committee’s spokesman lauded Hosni’s potential and ability to run the UNESCO.
In an interview with Al-Shorouk newspaper, Hosni said he would step down as culture minister should he fail to win the UN post.
Hosni also condemned the recent campaigns launched against him.
He also denounced a non-Egyptian Coptic organization called “Free Copts, that accused Hosni of eliminating Coptic identity in Egypt since he became minister of culture.
“Ask Pope Shonouda about the church renovations that we [the Ministry of Culture] have made, Hosni said in the interview.
He also criticized Egyptian intellectuals who have attacked him, saying that they are oblivious to the cultural developments Egypt has witnessed during his tenure.
French newspaper Le Monde had published an article last May titled “UNESCO: The Shame of a Shipwreck, that condemned UNESCO’s consideration of Hosni as a candidate for the organization’s general director, quoting Hosni on statements it deemed “anti-Israeli.
In response, Hosni wrote an editorial in the same paper apologizing for his “anti-Israeli statements.
Hosni attributes the campaigns launched against him to the fact that “Jews do not want an Arab or a Muslim in this position because of the sensitive situation in Jerusalem.
Hosni assured that decisions related to the matter are going to be made by the UNESCO’s high board council that includes 58 representatives from different countries.
He said he will consider visiting Israel only after peace is achieved or if he is appointed UNESCO’s general director.
There are nine candidates competing for UNESCO’s general director that has been headed by the Japanese Koïchiro Matsuura for nine years since 1999.