Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg trounced speculation on Monday that he’s a candidate for top international jobs that may tempt him to resign his post as Norway’s premier before his term is up. He said he has no plans to leave the government he now heads.
Newspaper reports over the weekend and chatter among even his own Labour Party colleagues have suggested that Stoltenberg may be tapped to take on top posts at the United Nations, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“After Gro Harlem Brundtland, no Norwegian prime minister has combined the position with so many serious international roles as Stoltenberg,” Jan Egeland, himself a former top UN official, told newspaper Aftenposten on Sunday.
Stoltenberg currently co-leads the UN group trying to fund climate measures around the world, and will deliver his report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later this week. Stoltenberg also has played a leading role in funding efforts to preserve the world’s rain forests, vaccinate children in poor countries, boost maternal health care programs and streamline the UN system.
Even Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, widely viewed as Stoltenberg’s most likely successor to take over as head of the Labour Party and possibly prime minister, told Aftenposten that Stoltenberg probably could attract top job offers from the UN, the World Bank or the IMF. “All those institutions would see it as a strength to get Stoltenberg on their team,” Støre said, adding, though, that he didn’t think Stoltenberg would resign any time soon.
Stoltenberg himself tried to halt the speculation over any new top international post on Monday.
“I have no other plans than to continue as prime minister and run for re-election to the Parliament in 2013,” he told newspaper VG.
Stoltenberg, age 51, nonetheless has made a name for himself in top international circles and VG also quoted sources saying it was likely he would leave Norwegian politics if relegated to a new existence in the opposition, should the conservative parties win the next national elections three years from now.
Some have even speculated that with Stoltenberg’s penchant for dialogue, his social economist background and political experience, international connections and commitment, mediating skills, down-to-earth style and pure good looks and humour that he’d even be a good candidate for the post of UN secretary general.
“No, I don’t think about that,” Stoltenberg told Aftenposten, when asked if he’d like Ban Ki-Moon’s job. “I’m concentrating on being prime minister in Norway.”