The next NATO Secretary General may be a woman. According to Politico, former Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, and current Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid are contenders for the post.
The current secretary general of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, has held the post since 2014. His mandate was set to expire in 2019, but NATO members agreed to extend it until 2022. And now the question of a successor is back on the table. Discussions on this issue have just begun. The candidacy for the post of NATO Secretary General is expected to be presented at a summit of NATO leaders in Madrid in late spring or early summer of next year.
The paper notes that the idea has been in the air lately that it is time to appoint a woman to this top civilian post. Besides, the complicated relations between NATO and Russia tilt the choice in favor of representatives of Eastern European states. Taking these two criteria into account, we can make a list of three names: Dalia Grybauskaite, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, and Kersti Kaljulaid.
According to Politico, the former president of Croatia has the best chance. She has already worked at NATO headquarters as assistant secretary general for public diplomacy (from 2011 to 2014), was both minister of Europe and Croatian foreign minister, and was instrumental in the positive consideration of some countries’ applications for EU and NATO membership. And serving as ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 to 2011 gave her a strong relationship with Washington.
As the media notes, choosing a secretary general from the Baltic states, such as Grybauskaite, might be seen as too hostile a move toward Moscow at a time when US President Joe Biden is trying to stabilize relations between Russia and the West. Kaljulaid, on the other hand, recently gave up her bid for the OECD chairmanship, for which she was much better suited by her resume.
It should be noted that the choice of a new secretary general is usually made within NATO in closed consultations among the leading countries of the alliance, in which the United States has the deciding word. The appointment is then formally approved by the North Atlantic Council.