Following first reports in January, countries are now beginning to jockey for position in the race to be the next Secretary General. There are many different stories starting to surface, and the early names are not necessarily those now making the running.
One who is, and who has heavy-weight European backing, is Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen. According to Sueddeutsche Zeitung "Britain, France and Germany will back Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to succeed Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as secretary-general of NATO" (translation by Reuters).
Early mentions of Norwegian Minister of Defense Anne-Grete Strom-Erichsen have dropped off, with her colleague, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, being touted as a good possibility. While former UK Defence Minister Des Browne has been mentioned, he would be a surprise choice coming so soon after Labour Party colleague Lord Robertson.
However, following a Washington Post report, speculation mounted that the United States (while the Obama administration has not yet made a decision) is sounding out Allies on the possibility of appointing Canadian Defence Minister Peter Mackay.
The Canadian Chronicle Herald wrties of him that:
Mr. MacKay is lobbying for the job as the political master of the defence alliance, but the job has always been held by a European and most observers think they are unlikely to want to give up the post.
It’s a job that involves subtle European diplomacy and behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, which a young Canadian might not be expected to do as well as a seasoned European. Also, Mr. MacKay would be seen as more hawkish and closer to the Americans than many European allies, and if he got the job, that would be one fewer job that the Europeans could trade among themselves.
And media reports suggest the reaction in Europe was not entirely positive when Mr. MacKay recently toured Europe, pressing allies to do more in Afghanistan.
There is likely a lot of horse-trading to be done, as the Secretary-General has traditionally been a European. But there isn't long to go. Current Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer leaves office this Summer, and a new appointment must be made at the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit at the beginning of April.