Whither the East Europeans?

The East European challenge to Asia’s “turn” in the regional rotation appears to have lost steam.

Both Poland’s Aleksander Kwasniewski and Latvia’s Vaira Vike-Freiberg have pubicly acknowledged that their chances of getting a Security Council nomination are slim. Both were rumored to be supported strongly by the U.S. Unfortunately, while the U.S. was backing East Europeans as deserving of a shot in the regional rotation, it was, in the same breath, denouncing the system of rotation. Perhaps not the best strategy for advancing your preferred candidates’ chances.

Aleksander KwasniewskiKwasniewski, who led Poland during the country’s support of the U.S. war in Iraq, suggested that “wavering White House support” could be due to the U.S. government’s difficulties there and falling approval ratings at home. “This (candidature) has turned into a shambles due to the situation in the White House,” Kwasniewski was quoted as saying by Poland’s PAP news agency.

Presidents Vike-Freiberga and HalonenDuring a visit last month by President Vike-Freiberg to Finland to discuss economic ties with her counterpart President Tarja Halonen – herself recommended for the top post – both recognized the virtual certainty that the next UNSG would be an Asian national.

A reporter asked the presidents whether they had decided which of them would be the next UN secretary general. Both replied by saying that it would be good if the next secretary general was a woman, but pointed out that Kofi Annan’s successor would probably hail from Asia.

Update: The response reported above did not reflect entirely the actual answer given by President Vike-Freiberg, according to her Press Secretary, Ms. Aiva Rozenberga. In a personal email, Ms. Rozenberga noted that, : 

“When asked about the possible next UNSG, President of FINLAND gave an aswer that is quoted in your web. President of LATVIA from her side said that she would like to see that a possible candidate of UNSG have to be seen first and foremost as to his/her`s personal qualities are and not the regional rotation aspect as the first principle. On the gender issue both presidents agreed that it is a time for a women at this high post as 60 years have passed without one and women are representing a half of a globe.”

One Response to “Whither the East Europeans?”

  1. […] In yesterday’s straw vote in the Security Council, Vike-Freiberga  placed third among the six candidates, with two opposing votes from permanent members of the Council, undoubtedly Russia and China.  Relations between Russia and Latvia are tense, and China has been insistent that it is Asia’s “turn” for the post of Secretary General, a position strongly supported by Russia and many other UN members. Thus far only one Asian has served as Secretary General, U Thant of Burma, who served from 1961 through 1971. Some have suggested that the Eastern Europeans have a turn, as all three European SGs have been from Western Europe , but this proposal never gained much steam.  http://www.unsg.org/wordpress/archives/76  […]

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