TALLINN-RIGA-VILNIUS - The question of who will represent the Baltic states on the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, has caused a wave of speculation in the first week of the new year.
Latvia's Prime Minister Einars Repse said that he planned to nominate his country's candidate for commissioner for government approval by March only after approval from Brussels has been received for the candidate.
An aide to Repse suggested last week that candidates for the post could be named by mid-January, but that Repse was eager to play it safe and wait for the green light from Brussels first.
"This is the tradition in force," Repse explained.
The PM added that he might not fly to Brussels to inform of the nomination, saying only that "we should start dropping the trend of moving our bodies across Europe hear and there."
In Lithuania, Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas was far less circumspect, saying he would put forward Finance Minister Dalia Grybauskaite as the Baltic country's future European commissioner.
"I shall put forward Dalia Grybauskaite, as I see her prepared for this job," Brazauskas said in an interview on public radio. "I discussed it with the president and speaker of Parliament," he added.
European Commission President Romano Prodi, who hammers out the line-up of the EU executive with EU member states, has said that he wants at least three women among the commissioners the 10 incoming countries will send to Brussels after the bloc's enlargement on May 1.
Grybauskaite, a 47-year-old graduate from Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) University was appointed by Brazauskas as Finance Minister in 2001 when he took over as prime minister.
In Estonia, no official statement has been made so far, but the daily The Financial Times wrote in its Jan. 5 issue that Estonia's probable candidate for the post of commissioner would be Chairman of the Reform Party and former Prime Minister Siim Kallas.
An EU news portal likewise tipped Kallas for the position.
Kallas himself was reluctant to talk about his possible nomination. "I won't comment on anything until the official procedures begin," he told the paper.