Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejcinovic-Buric was elected the new Secretary-General of the Council of Europe by secret ballot held in the CoE Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on Wednesday evening.
Pejcinovic-Buric won 159 votes, while the other candidate, the Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, won 105. The two were shortlisted by the Committee of Ministers earlier this year. Apart from them, the other two candidates in the first round were former Lithuanian premier and lawmaker, Andrius Kubilius as well as a former Greek foreign minister and parliamentary deputy, Dora Bakoyannis.
Pejcinovic-Buric will succeed Thornbjorn Jagland, whose second term in this post expires in October.
Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister and foreign minister, became the 13th Secretary General of this international organisation in September 2009 and was reelected in 2014 for the second term.
Pejcinovic-Buric is only the second woman in history at the organisation’s helm and the first person from Central and Southeastern Europe to fill this position.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday that Croatia had made a good impression during its six-month chairmanship of this organisation last year. “I think we earned the image of a country that can make a contribution.”
Pejcinovic-Buric, who became the Croatian Foreign Minister in June 2017, is fluent in French, English, and Spanish.
The Council of Europe was established in 1949 as an international organisation whose aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Croatia joined the Council of Europe in 1996.