Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is tipped to become the European Union’s next foreign policy boss, but her tough stance on Russia may raise doubts as to whether she can represent views from across the bloc. EU leaders’ informal talks on Monday, their first since the European Parliament election, focus on the appointments for the bloc’s top jobs, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen expected to secure a second term and EU diplomats saying Kallas is in line for the foreign affairs role.

Kallas, who turns 47 on Tuesday, has made her name as an eloquent critic of neighbouring Russia and its expansionist aims since she became Estonian prime minister in early 2021. An uncompromising voice in the EU and NATO for unconditional support to Kyiv and for containing Moscow, she led her country of 1.4 million people to become among the highest per-capita military donors to Ukraine. Kallas has been wanted in Russia since February for her role in removing Soviet-era monuments in her country.

Born in Tallinn, she is the great-granddaughter of the first Estonian chief of police as the newly independent country emerged from the Russian Empire after the First World War only to be absorbed into the Soviet Union in 1940. Kallas’ mother was only six months old when her family was forcibly relocated to Siberia in 1949 along with 20,000 other Estonians. “Russia hasn’t changed,” she said last year on marking an anniversary of her mother’s exile. “This evil lives on in Russia.”

Unassuming and open, Kallas is well regarded abroad, though not all of the bloc’s countries share her dogged defiance of Russia. Above all, Hungary’s Viktor Orban has maintained friendly ties with Moscow even after its invasion of Ukraine. However, her popularity at home suffered when local media revealed last year that her husband was involved in a business which continued its operations in Russia even as Kallas publicly criticised all who did so.

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Source: Reuters

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