Karins is suitable candidate for NATO secretary-general - Rinkevics

  • 2023-11-23
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - As a former prime minister with experience in the European Parliament, Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) is a suitable candidate for the post of NATO secretary-general, President Edgars Rinkevics said at a news conference Wednesday. 

Asked what the election of a Baltic candidate to the Alliance's top post would mean for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Rinkevics said that the Baltic countries' work and investments in boosting their defense is a good basis for a representative of the Baltic states to become NATO secretary-general for the first time in the Alliance's history.

"Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the strengthening of NATO's eastern flank, the current events in the region related to the bolstering of allied forces, and the fact that the Baltic states and Poland spend well over 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense are, in my opinion, good arguments for a representative of the Baltic states to become NATO secretary-general," Rinkevics said.

The president noted that there have already been several discussions on the successor to the current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, including earlier this year, when NATO member states decided to extend Stoltenberg's term in office until October next year.

"The discussions are just beginning and will take a long time. I think all the candidates are worthy. I also plan to discuss specific issues with Karins. I think that healthy competition is a driving force not only in companies, but also in governments and international organizations," Rinkevics said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) informed that Latvia has started informal consultations on a possible nomination of its candidate for the post of NATO secretary-general.

Silina explained that the procedures for selecting a NATO chief are not strictly regulated. Informal negotiations, which are not a highly regulated process, have started at the level of NATO ambassadors. Latvia has informed its colleagues that it has a candidate to lead the organization, which is the basis for the starting informal negotiations.

Silina noted that Latvia has never nominated a candidate for NATO secretary-general, so this is an entirely new experience for the country. We will seek support and see - if we have a chance and clarity about the process, we will take formal decisions about the nomination, Silina added.

According to the prime minister, Latvia could formally nominate a candidate for the post of NATO secretary-general because "we have a strong candidate" and none of the new NATO countries has ever led the Alliance, which would send a good signal geopolitically. In Silina's assessment, Karins has good experience in running a government, experience in the European Parliament and knowledge of international processes.

The Baltic countries would benefit from a NATO leader from any of the Baltic countries, the Latvian prime minister added.

As reported, Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) is looking to join the list of contenders to succeed NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, a second top politician from the Baltics to express interest, Bloomberg reported earlier.

"Provided Latvia would decide to stand for the candidacy of the secretary general, Dr. Krisjanis Karins is ready to join the competition," according to a statement shared by Karins' spokesman on Sunday.

The 58-year-old Karins resigned as prime minister in August as his party sought to form a new government.

According to the statement, he would offer "to contribute to the alliance with his leadership experience as prime minister, clear understanding of Russia's threat, strong stance on Ukraine, and proven track record as an international consensus builder."