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Kersti Kaljulaid withdraws OECD candidacy

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid has withdrawn her candidacy as Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), her office reported Tuesday afternoon.

The president, whose candidacy was declared last October and who recently got through to the second round of the competitive process, said: "The OECD is a consensual organization, and the main aim was to choose for the next Secretary General the candidate, who has the widest support. Consultations with different OECD member states have led to the conclusion that for several countries me taking the position after the end of my term as President of Estonia would not be the best solution in these turbulent times. Therefore I will withdraw my candidacy."

The president thanked the staff of the foreign ministry, former Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and the members of his cabinet for their efforts in supporting her candidacy for the post, to replace Angel Gurria, whose term ends in June.

"This is the first time for Estonia to actively pursue an international position of such weight and as a country, we have learned a lot from the process," the president said.

"I believe that these consultations have also helped us nudge the agenda of OECD and create a better understanding of the challenges created by the digitization of societies to the world economy and countries," she went on.

Headquartered in Paris, the OECD, which Estonia joined in 2010, brings together countries committed to democracy, human rights and the market economy. It is often seen as a club of wealthy nations. It has 37 member states at present.

Candidates for the position of the next Secretary General were proposed also by the Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, the U.S. and Greece.

Leaves second presidential term on the table

Kaljulaid expressed her gratitude to all countries that had supported her candidacy, adding that there were no weak candidates left in the running.

The move leaves the way open for a potential second term for Kaljulaid as president. The next presidential election process starts in August, with the new Reform-Center coalition saying it has no united presidential candidate in mind as of yet. The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) has declared its support for her reelection to a second term. 

The change in government has also led to speculation that a second presidential term may be more realistic for Kaljulaid, given antagonism between her and the previous administration primarily focused on the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), which is now in opposition.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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