Prime minister: My being nominated next NATO chief 'extremely unlikely'

Kaja Kallas.
Kaja Kallas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has called a tip which appeared in the New York Times over the weekend and which mentioned her name in connection with the candidacy for the next NATO Secretary General an "extremely unlikely" outcome.

The New York Times mentioned Kallas among other possible candidates, to replace Jens Stoltenberg, whose extended term ends in fall 2023.

Speaking to islands radio channel Raadio Kadi Tuesday, the prime minister said: "The New York Times can write about anything. But the likelihood of an offer like this being made to be is extremely low."

"When I got into politics, someone told me that you should never deny any 'mystical powers' attributed to you, so I won't do that now. However, it's actually extremely unlikely that such a proposal will be made to me," she reiterated.

Of other topics discussed on the show, the prime minister said she is worried about a current decline in political culture standards and the questioning of the work of democratic institutions in the Riigikogu's debating chamber, likely an oblique reference to recent allegations about a senior Reform MP over alleged inappropriate photos, reportedly relating to a child custody battle.

Kallas said: "When I was elected to the Riigikogu [for the first time] in 2011, I observed then that things could be done better and with a basic courtesy. I put together the MPs' code of ethics, one the first sentences of which was that an MP should act respectfully towards others. However, now, things are very, very bad. The political culture has deteriorated."

Disrespect of the state's most important chamber, ie. the Riigikogu's Great Hall, the airing of dirty laundry there and a lack of meaningful dialogue means democracy is in fact being undermined, she added.

"My concern is the undermining of various democratic institutions. Various lawsuits are brought into the Riigikogu hall. If you are not satisfied with a court decision, then it seems all you have to do is to bring it to the Riigikogu hall and start waging a personal vendetta. However, this represents an undermining of our country," Kallas went on, likening her role as prime minister in today's Estonia to that of a family doctor - whereby people always come with their worries, rather than joys

The prime minister also talked about the coronavirus pandemic, telling Raadio Kadi that she did not believe that restrictions along the lines of those in place much of the time from early 2020 to early 2022 would make a return, largely due to a likely societal rejection of that, though this would depend on the situation and public responsibility in staying home when sick.

With around 16 weeks left until the advance voting period begins for the March 5 general election, the prime minister said that while the mood was busy, it will become more so as the various parties and candidates strive to stand out from the pack more.

The prime minister said she has told her coalition partners, meaning the Social Democrats and Isamaa, that they should also consider life beyond the elections, noting that no one party in Estonia can get an absolute majority at the Riigikogu, meaning the burning of bridges is futile. "Perhaps it is necessary to form coalitions, and not worth ruining personal relationships during the campaigning period."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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