With the end of Ban Ki-Moon’s tenure as UN Secretary General approaching and German Chancellor Angela Merkel facing difficult times at home, her name keeps popping up as a possible successor.
The idea surfaced again just as Chancellor Merkel was preparing for a delicate mission to Brussels this week to try to convince at least a few other European nations to help ease the burden Germany has been aching under since it took the unprecedented step of opening its doors to refugees.
An opinion piece in the New York Times by a former communications aide to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named her as the perfect choice to be his successor when his term runs out at the end of the year. The article, including a graphic featuring the famous Merkel’s rhombus with the world in its middle, listed all the reasons why “there is a compelling logic in favor of a Merkel candidacy.”
And what might those reasons be, you ask? Is it her overwhelming intellect? Her statesmanship? Her compelling personality? Here’s how the New York Times story, also linked above, put it:
With elections in Germany due next year, the newsmagazine Der Spiegelquoted colleagues of Mrs. Merkel’s saying that she does not wish for a fourth term. With Europe’s immigration crisis inciting resistance to her continued open-door policy, there is talk of a “graceful exit” for the chancellor.
No candidate could magically restore the United Nations’ prestige, but there is a compelling logic in favor of a Merkel candidacy. She is both female and, as someone who grew up in the former German Democratic Republic, Eastern European. More important, she has an intuitive understanding of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, who was based in Dresden as a K.G.B. officer when the Berlin Wall came down. While Russia’s annexation of Crimea sorely tested Mrs. Merkel’s patience, she continued to have regular telephone conversations with Mr. Putin. She could bring a unique ability to mediate between Russia and America.
Germany’s remarkable response under her leadership to Europe’s refugee crisis has also underlined Mrs. Merkel’s humanitarian credentials. At the height of last year’s wave of migration, the contrast between Mrs. Merkel’s willingness to accept desperate asylum seekers in their hundreds of thousands contrasted with the parsimonious response of Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, as well as with a growing xenophobia among some Eastern European leaders.
These people truly live on another planet.