European Western Balkans

Estonian journalist on Kallas as potential High Representative: She is not naïve, but some factors speak against her

Kaja Kallas; Photo: Government of Estonia

Erkki Bahovski, a seasoned journalist covering foreign policy from Estonia, states for EWB that it is “a really one million dollar question” whether the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will be fit for the position of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “Kallas is not naïve, but she might not be very strong in diplomacy”, he explains.

Citing the unnamed Brussels-based and EU diplomats, Politico web portal reports that Kallas would be a near-ideal choice for liberals as they pick a successor to Josep Borrell.

“Kaja Kallas has shown herself as an outspoken supporter of Ukraine. Her Soviet background (she grew up in the Soviet Union) and knowledge of Russian guarantees that she knows Russia, and this is something that the EU needs at the moment. Kaja Kallas is not naive, especially when it comes to trusting Putin. In addition, she reads books on history and politics and uses them constantly in her work”, Erkki Bahovski underlines.

However, Bahovski adds that “her domestic record is not very good – the European elections showed growing distrust with the government in Estonia where her Reform Party lost one seat in the EP (before they had two)”.

“A clear disadvantage is also the fact that Estonia is a very small country – when it comes to horse trading at the EU level (who gets what job) the representative of a large country has always an advantage, since the large country can give something in return. But it is not impossible – the current president of the EP comes from Malta which is even smaller than Estonia”, he states.

Bahovski stresses that the work of a High Representative needs not only strong statements but also good diplomatic work and clear mandate from the member states.

“I have some doubts here that Kaja Kallas might not be very strong in diplomacy. But let us see”, Erkki Bahovski concludes.

Kaja Kallas (47) has been the Prime Minister of Estonia since 2021, the first woman to serve in the role.  The leader of the Reform Party since 2018, she was a member of the National Parliament in 2011–2014, and 2019–2021. Kallas was also a member of the European Parliament in 2014–2018, representing the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

She has a bachelor’s degree in law and MA in business administration.

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