December 03, 2008 (The date of publication in Russian)

Grigory Tinsky


Contenders for NATO General Secretary post abuse alcohol and tell racist anecdotes about Obama

Spiegel Magazine has published an article on possible designation of Poland's ex-President Alexander Kwasniewski, or incumbent Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski for the post of NATO General Secretary. This sensation immediately pervaded all the Polish mass media.

The tenure of current NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer expires in 2010.The name of his successor is expected to be publicized already in spring 2009 at the ordinary NATO summit.

The choice of a Polish candidate for this position seems to be, on the one hand, perfectly rational, and on the other hand, rather problematic. Rationality of this choice is determined with Poland's special relations with the United States, dominating in NATO. The cadre initiative, obviously, is supposed to facilitate the process of decision-making within the North Atlantic Alliance – as Poland, as a EU member interested in receiving European donations, can become a kind of bridge between Europe and America. Ambiguousness arises from the justifiably applied label of "America's Trojan horse in Europe". It is even hard to imagine how useful a Pole could be in the position of the UN General Secretary.

From the practical viewpoint, the solution of this issue will depend on the role of the Polish government in promoting a candidate "of its own". Prime Minister Donald Tusk is likely to endorse the candidature of Radoslaw Sikorski, who may otherwise become his rival in the next national presidential elections, scheduled also for 2010. However, after telling an anecdote about Barack Obama's grandfather who had allegedly eaten up a Polish missioner in Africa, may become unwanted by the White House that still plays the leading role in NATO cadre decisions.

Alexander Kwasniewski, who played an important role in Poland's entry in NATO, is also not quite impeccable in personal behavior. His name has lately surfaced in the center of scandals, associated with alcohol abuse. In his interview to the Polish TV, Kwasniewski confirmed that a number of European foreign ministers had inquired him of his plans to run for the high position. A diplomatic Kwasniewski replied that a Pole's designation for such a responsible post would be very prestigious for his nation – and exactly for that reason he would say "no", as he does not consider his post as a dream of his life. Still, he modestly admitted that both of the discussed candidatures would perfectly fit the General Secretary's post. He claimed that the issue is "at the stage of overture".

Beside the Poles, the post of NATO General Secretary is contested by Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark's Defense Minister Soeren Gade, and Britain's ex-Defense Secretary Desmond Browne. The first discussion of the candidatures is supposed to take place at the December meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers.

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