TALLINN – German public-service television broadcaster ZDF writes in its news portal about the possible candidacy of Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas for the post of NATO secretary general and finds that it is not overly likely, furthermore, some member states do not like the Estonian government leader's clear views on Russia.
Since the term of the current NATO chief, Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, ends at the end of September, the question of who will lead the now 31-member alliance is in the air. ZDF rhetorically asks whether NATO should have a female secretary general after 74 years of operation and mentions European Commission Preisdent Ursula von der Leyen and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as possible candidates.
According to the ZDF, Leyen, who is, among other things, a descendant of Baron Ludwig Knoop, the owner of the Kreenholm manufactory in the northeastern Estonian border town of Narva, has an extremely low probability of becoming the secretary general of NATO. Moreover, Leyen has ruled out her own candidacy.
ZDF considers the chances of Kaja Kallas to be modest, but not completely excluded. According to ZDF, Kallas stands out in Brussels with clear views regarding Russia. Kallas herself has told Politico that since Estonia has been a member of the EU and NATO for 19 years, the country must be on the radar screen for top positions.
"But does everyone in NATO want a falcon like Kallas, who usually finds harsher words against Russia than the rest, at their head? It would be a statement that not everyone wants to send," ZDF writes.
"Especially since, as a high-ranking diplomat from a western member state recalled, the term of office of NATO's deputy secretary general, Romanian Mircea Geoana, has just been extended. In principle, that would make the placement of another Eastern European woman at the head of NATO difficult," ZDF writes, citing the anonymous diplomat.
ZDF also mentions British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace as a possible candidate, whose candidacy the publication considers conceivable. Wallace himself admitted to TimesRadio in February that the position of NATO secretary general would be a great job.
Regarding the long-time prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, ZDF notes that Rutte's refusals of the secretary general's chair should not be taken seriously.
Regarding the possible continuation of the outgoing Jens Stoltenberg, ZDF admits that it would be an emergency option, but at the same time one that would suit very many people. ZDF adds that it may be difficult for Stoltenberg, who wants to return to Norway, to refuse if the president of the United States personally asks him to continue.
"Despite everything, an old rule applies in NATO: those who are named first do not turn out to be elected in the end. In addition, the member states must unanimously agree on the new leader. However, this leaves room for all kinds of deals and last-minute vetoes, which, for example, Turkey tried in 2009, when Stoltenberg's predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was elected," ZDF writes.