Heard in Europe

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met recently with former Commission President Romano Prodi. The get-together was seen in the context of the need of finding a successor to current Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, 89, who recently hinted he would retire as early as in January.

Surprisingly, Renzi told Prodi that he could count on his support to become the next UN Secretary General, replacing Ban Ki-moon, whose second term expires on 31 December 2016. Thus Renzi made it clear that Prodi should not have ambitions for the Italian Presidency.

According to sources, Prodi didn’t take the offer well, and privately said that he was offered something he could not obtain.

But if Prodi could be a candidate, so should be Barroso, who was asked this question recently and didn’t discard this option. But this too seems to be a long shot.

The race for the UN is not yet officially open. Normally the next UN SecGen should come from Eastern Europe, the only of the UN regional groups which has never had one [see list of former SecGens].

According to the French Daily Le Figaro the favourite is Irina Bokova, the current Director General of UNESCO. “This Bulgarian diplomat fits the job description, as she is both US- and Russia- compatible, and as a militant Francophone, she will have the support of Paris”, Le Figaro wrote.

Among the other names circulating are of the current President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite, but it is highly unlikely that Russia would accept her candidacy, because of her hawkish positions in the context of the Ukraine crisis. The name of former President of Slovenia Danilo Türk is also mentioned. A second Bulgarian candidate could also join the race: Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva. Undoubtedly Georgieva could count on US support, but it is rather unlikely that Moscow would give way to someone seen as a professional wage-earner of Western institutions.


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