TALLINN - The Brussels-based news website Politico has named Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid as one of the potential successors to NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the end of the latter's term in September 2022.
According to information available to Politico, some officials, diplomats and analysts in Brussels and other allied capitals are saying that after 72 years it is high time for the alliance to appoint its first woman to the top civilian job. Others say that given the continuing face-off with Russia, selecting an Eastern European would send an important signal to Moscow. Considering the said two imperatives, three names quickly shoot to the top of the list of prospective candidates: former presidents Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia and Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania; and current Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, the website reported.
Some NATO-watchers said that choosing a secretary-general from the Baltics, particularly Grybauskaite of Lithuania, could be seen as too hostile toward Moscow, at a time when US President Joe Biden is trying to stabilize relations between Russia and the West.
Kaljulaid's chances could be boosted by Estonia being one of the few NATO member states fulfilling the target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. Romania is another NATO ally that meets the 2 percent threshold, potentially giving President Klaus Iohannis a shot at the secretary-general position, according to Politico.
The portal said that the position of secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) seemed to fit far better with Kaljulaid's resume, however, as prior to becoming president in October 2016, she had served for 12 years as Estonia's representative on the EU Court of Auditors.
Kaljulaid's term of office as president ends this fall. While she has affirmed her preparedness to stay on for a second term, the Social Democratic Party is currently the only parliamentary party to have expressed support to her candidacy for the post.