Kersti Kaljulaid may run for office of OECD Secretary-General ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Kersti Kaljulaid
Kersti Kaljulaid

President Kersti Kaljulaid may run for the post of Secretary-General of inter-governmental body the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) next summer. The president's current term ends in October 2021, but given the current political realities, observers are saying it is unlikely she will run for a second term, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

Public relations advisor Taavi Linnamäe told ERR Friday that the president has said that her potential candidacy for the OECD top spot could be discussed, adding that it was early days yet.

"There are many more things to go through, because Kersti Kaljulaid will remain president until October next year and will focus on her work here, as she has done for the last four years," Linnamäe said.

"However, it is true that leaders of international organizations are being sought, and President Kaljulaid has agreed that her [OECD] candidacy suitability can be discussed," he went on.

ERR reports that the prime minister, Jüri Ratas (Center), has also spoken to several national leaders, as part of a lobbying process for her candidacy, and several other sources have said that serious background work is taking place to assess the possibilities.

Kaljulaid may also be seen internationally as a compromise candidate on an international stage where several major world powers have been squaring up against each other, ERR reports.

Kersti Kaljulaid represented Estonia at the European Court of Auditors 2004-2016, leaving that post to become president following a Riigikogu vote on October 3 2016. Estonian presidents are not elected directly by the people.

She has faced strong criticism from some quarters in politics, particularly from leading members of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), which entered office in April 2019.

Sitting presidents may run for one more consecutive term under the Estonian constitution. Toomas Hendrik Ilves served two terms in a row, 2006-2016.

Applications open September 1

The OECD Secretary-General post becomes vacant next summer when long-running current incumbent José Ángel Gurría will not seek reelection.

The selection process was started on August 1 this year, with OECD member countries able to nominate their candidate from September 1, through to the end of October.

The next Secretary-General will be elected by OECD member countries for a five-year term from June 1 2021. What could happen in respect of the remainder of the president's term in office as head of state of Estonia, as noted due to end in October, has not been reported yet.

The OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is seen as a "rich countries' club" since members are generally high-income economies, with a high level of human development.

José Ángel Gurría, who became Secretary-General in June 2006, is stepping down in part due to Mexico wishing to boost its chances of providing the next World Trade Organization (WTO) head, after current leader Roberto Azevêdo stands down at the end of this month.

From among Estonia's neighboring countries, Mari Kiviniemi, former Prime Minister of Finland, was OECD Deputy Secretary General 2014-2018.

In 2019, the basic salary for the Secretary General stood at €226,731 per annum, or approximately €19,000 per month, ERR reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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