Latvia's Krišjānis Kariņš sets out his stall for NATO Secretary General job

Having confirmed a couple of weeks ago that he is interested in the upcoming vacancy at the head of NATO, Latvia's current Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš laid out his stall in a lengthy interview with Latvian Radio, December 7.

After batting away more questions about his use of private jets while serving as premier – while admitting that he should have been more upfront about it at the time – Kariņš got onto the subject of how realistic his chances of becoming NATO Secretary General are.

"The role of the NATO Secretary General is not to personally dictate the direction of NATO. The NATO Secretary General's role is to bring together 31 – soon 32 – different countries with a united purpose. Of course, he has his own view of what the purpose should be, but he has to speak in the name of all those countries," said Kariņš.

"That person has to somehow bring together very different views, to form a joint consensus. That is what I have done in domestic politics and foreign politics during all of my career," said Kariņš in what sounded like a well-rehearsed speech. He talked up his achievements in managing a diverse colaition government for more than 4 years and said that too was a case of bringing together diverse views in a common purpose – precisely the qualities he had just described as being necessary in a NATO Secretary General.

Furthermore, at EU level meetings Kariņš said he had often been one of the main voices seeking consensus, citing in particular an instance during which he had attempted to persuade the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the wisdom of giving Ukraine a path towards eventual EU membership.

"All the decisions-makers about the NATO Secretary General, I know personally – I have worked with them," said Kariņš.

Asked what benefit Latvia would derive if he did become NATO Secretary General, Kariņš said it was a good and necessary question and suggested that if a confrontation between NATO and Russia was ever going to happen, it would likely be on the territory of the Baltic states, which would only give him additional determination that NATO should be as strong and united as possible "so that such a war could not happen."

As previously reported by LSM, as well as Kariņš, outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Estonia's Kaja Kallas have both expressed interest in the high-profile, high-pressure job after a fourth extension Stoltenberg's tenure ends in October 2024.

Choosing a new Secretary General needs to be a unanimous decision of all 31 NATO member states. By tradition, the post is held by a European rather than an American, but Kariņš has dual U.S. and Latvian citizenship.

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important