BELGRADE – It was normal that Serbia back a Serbian’s bid to become the new UN secretary-general, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Wednesday after the Serbian government decided to support Vuk Jeremic’s candidacy for the post.

Asked why the decision had taken so long, Dacic told the N1 television that he could not say that the matter was under consideration for a long time, noting that he and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, as well as Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, had spoken with Jeremic on several occasions.

“It is normal that Serbia back our man who has a chance of assuming the post. I see nothing spectacular about that,” Dacic said.

Jeremic, who has served as Serbian foreign minister and UN General Assembly president, said Tuesday that it is a great honour and privilege to represent one’s country in the international race to become the UN secretary-general, thanking the prime minister and the government of Serbia for putting him forward for the post earlier in the day.

“We will be representing our country on the top international stage – it is an exceptional opportunity,” Jeremic told Tanjug in an interview, thanking the prime minister and government of Serbia for putting him forward for the post earlier on Tuesday.

Candidates for the new UN secretary-general on Tuesday appeared in first-ever hearings held at the UN headquarters to pick the world’s top diplomat in a more transparent process.

Over the next three days, eight candidates will address the UN General Assembly, with the name of Serbian diplomat Vuk Jeremic also expected to be included in the agenda.

Montenegro’s former foreign minister Igor Luksic spoke first, followed by former Bulgarian foreign minister and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres.

Former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic, Slovenia’s former president Danilo Turk and Natalia Gherman, the foreign minister of Moldova, will speak on Wednesday.

The head of the UN Development Programme and former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark will speak on Thursday alongside former Macedonian minister Srgjan Kerim, the AFP reported.

According to the UN website, there will be time left for a ninth contender.

The new UN secretary-general takes office on January 1, 2017.