UN Envoy Nimitz Has UNspecified "Name" Talks, Admitted Saxo Bank Stake, Said UNaware of Greek Sub


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 8 – The UN has had an envoy on the so-called "name issue" between Greece and Macedonia or FYROM for years: Matthew Nimitz. Inner City Press has previously reported on his conflict of interest, but got the chance on January 17 to ask him about it. Nimitz admitted his long time employer General Atlantic's stake in Saxo Bank but said he was unaware of its Greek subsidiary. Assuming arguendo that's the case, Inner City Press then asked the UN's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric why the UN's "Ethics" office didn't even Google Saxo Bank and the parties Nimetz had been mediating between. UN transcript here and below. On May 8, the UN hit a new low, issuing its shortest read-out, of a meeting it had not even announced in advance: "Note to Correspondents on meeting of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia The meeting is part of ongoing United Nations efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the 'name' issue. New York, 8 May 2018." Nimetz should resign - and it seems his boss too. On April 23, the UN announced that "Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, will meet jointly with H.E. Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, and H.E. Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at the United Nations Office at Vienna on 25 April 2018." And on April 25 there, Nimitz said, "As you know these meetings have continued for several months now, intensifying the talks between the two parties under the auspices of the Secretary-General.

We met today with H.E. Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, and H.E. Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We have had quite a few meetings, so we know the issues very well. The two Ministers speak with authority. We discussed the open issues between the parties, dealing with the “name” issue. It was an intense discussion, very cordial in personal terms. Both sides are very dedicated to reaching a solution. The process will continue in the next weeks. Thank you very much."  On and on, like so many UN files. Back on March 20, the UN announced that "Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, will meet jointly with H.E. Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, and H.E. Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in Vienna on 30 March 2018. The meeting is part of United Nations’ ongoing efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the 'name' issue."Round and round. On February 12, the UN announced that "Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, will meet jointly with H.E. Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, and H.E. Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at the United Nations Office at Vienna on 13 February 2018. The meeting is part of United Nations efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the 'name' issue." On and on with Nimetz. On January 24, the UN without addressing the issue announced that "At the invitation of the Governments of the Hellenic Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, will travel to Athens and Skopje from 29 January to 1 February 2018. The visit is part of United Nations efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name” issue. " From the January 17 UN transcript: Inner City Press: at this Nimetz stakeout just now, I'd asked him about whether during his time with General Atlantic investment firm, he ever had a con… recused himself or had a conflict of interest.  And he said… he acknowledged that… that they had invested in something called Saxo Bank but said he didn't know they had a Greek subsidiary.  They do.  You can just go online and find it. So, what I wanted… what it made me won… think, it was good that he answered it, but who's in charge of looking at the potential financial conflict of interest of UN envoys like him? And I'm thinking of… there are a number of other ones. [Yemen, Burundi, Cameroon / UNOCA, UNOWA, etc.]  Is it self-regulation… Spokesman:  Obviously, all the envoys… all the envoys deal with the Ethics Office.  They are given advice.  They ask questions.  And, obviously, we expect… we expect them to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.  And I think Mr.  Nimetz was very open and transparent in answering this question, he also made the point that he no longer works for the company. Inner City Press: Right.  I agree, but it leaves me with the question, if he tells the Ethics Office, my firm at the time invests in Saxo Bank, who's the one that's supposed to just do a Google search to find the subsidiaries of Saxo Bank and find that one is in Greece? Spokesman:  Well, I think the… you know, I don't know about this particular case, but, obviously, our colleagues also look into each individual case." But that didn't, here.  When Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias spoke this week of resolving the issue this year, the reporting included no mention of the UN. So on January 4 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: the Foreign Minister of Greece, Mr. Kotzias, had sat down with reporters and said that the name issue he expects to be solved in 2018, saying this would remove a roadblock for former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Anyway, at least as written up, the interview doesn't even mention Mr. Nimetz.  And I'm wondering, can you give some description of what… I know he's been on this file for a long time.  What's he been doing recently?  And why would it be that the Greek Foreign Minister, in addressing the issue, the UN didn't even seem to be part of the picture? Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have to clarify what the Greek Foreign Minister would say.  That's really up to him.  For our part, Mr. Nimetz has been going about his work.  We've always announced whenever there are meetings conducted on the name issue, and we'll announce the next one whenever we have the time to give." How much is this costing? What with the conflict of interest? Now a week later on January 11, this: "Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, is scheduled to meet with Representatives of the Governments of the Hellenic Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at the United Nations in New York, on 17 January 2018. The meeting is part of the United Nations’ efforts to assist the sides in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the 'name' issue." Back in July 2017 amid the UN bribery case against Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng began, and following a UN Security Council visit to Haiti in which victims of the UN's cholera criticized the failure to follow though on individual reparations, Secretary General Antonio Guterres on June 28 announced that his Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Matthew Nimetz would travel to Skopje from July 1-4 and then to Greece. UNsaid was that Nimetz is an advisory director of General Atlantic, which has a stake in a Danish bank, Saxo Bank, with a Greek subsidiary. Isn't this a conflict of interest? How does it relate to Nimetz' July 3 announcement, typical of today UN, that  after meeting FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov he "does not expect any dramatic breakthrough on the issue during the coming months"? Inner City Press inquired about conflict of interest with Secretary General Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who said it has all been disclosed. And? Now on July 14, this: "At the invitation of the Government of the Hellenic Republic, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, is scheduled to meet with His Excellency Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs, in Brussels, Belgium, on 17 July 2017. The purpose of the meeting, which follows the visit of Mr. Nimetz to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia earlier in July, is to discuss the way forward in the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" issue." From the UN's June 28  transcript: Inner City Press: you said Mr. Nimetz, and I know he's been in the post a long time, but I've just sort of re-reviewed it, that he's going to Skopje and then may go to Greece.  He's still an advisory director to General Atlantic, where he's worked in the past, so it's a financial commitment that he has.  They actually have a stake in a bank that's in Greece, and I wanted to know -- from the outside, it seems like this might be problematic, I mean, or is it something that he disclosed to the Ethics Office?

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