Politico picks Estonia’s Kaja Kallas as one of the most influential people in Europe

Politico, the American-born international current affairs magazine, has picked the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, as one of the most influential people in Europe.

According to Politico, Kallas is the fifth most influential person among the “doers” in Europe. The magazine published the name of the overall most influential person in Europe in the evening of 7 December – Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine; and the first in the “doers” list, Robert Habeck, the economy and climate minister of Germany.

“Ursula von der Leyen didn’t name any names when she said, ‘We should have listened to those who know Putin.’ But the European Commission president likely had Kaja Kallas in mind. Few European leaders have been as forceful, articulate and consistent as the Estonian prime minister in laying out the threats posed by the authoritarian in the Kremlin. And at a time when Western European countries are rethinking their Russia strategy, the brutal invasion of Ukraine has vindicated Estonia’s approach to Moscow,” the magazine writes.

“Kallas, 45, has long been aware of the threat Russia could pose, including to energy security. So when the taps were being turned off, Estonia was ready. During the sanctions debate, the Estonian leader, whose mother was deported to Siberia by the Soviets, has been one of the loudest and most effective voices,” according to Politico.

“A year before Moscow invaded Ukraine, she was already calling for sanctions on Russian officials over human rights violations like the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. She’s also been hawkish on China, advocating for alternatives to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, as well as more generally.”

A former of European geopolitics

“Being able to say ‘I told you so’ has given Kallas greater influence in Brussels, as well as globally. ‘We are being listened to, which is great,’ she told Politico earlier this year. An excellent communicator, she frames European geopolitics in stark, moral terms, applying a pathos more ostensibly powerful leaders like Germany’s Olaf Scholz have struggled to imitate.”

The Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas meeting with the German chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on 25 April 2022. Photo by Bundesregierung/ Steffgen Kugler.

Kaja Kallas, 45, is the chair of the Estonian Reform Party and has been the country’s prime minister since 26 January 2021.

Ahead of Kallas in the Politico’s “the doers” list are Christine Lagarde, a former French finance minister and managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s supreme allied commander and commander of U.S. forces in Europe; and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.

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