Australia not ruling out European for IMF post: minister
Australia is not ruling out another European leader for the International Monetary Fund, the country's foreign minister said Friday, insisting a successor to Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn should be chosen purely on the basis of merit.
"The first and only criterion here should be merit. We want someone who is technically qualified, with support from across the world, not in any particular region," Australia's chief diplomat, Kevin Rudd, told reporters in Oslo.
"There could be candidates from Australia, there could be candidates from the Asia-Pacific, there could be those from the Americas, they could come from Europe," he said at a joint news conference with his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Stoere.
The IMF has been headed by a European since 1946 and countries across Europe have moved to keep their lock on the institution's top job after Strauss-Kahn said early Thursday that he would be stepping down to battle allegations of sexual assault in New York.
Many of Europe's leading figures have lined up behind front-runner Christine Lagarde, the respected French finance minister who, like Strauss-Kahn, has an intimate knowledge of Europe's debilitating fiscal problems.
But rising powers like Brazil, China and India have moved quickly to prevent a fait accompli with counter-calls for a more transparent selection process so that their interests can be better represented.
Asked specifically about his opinion of Lagarde, Rudd said he knew her well and said she was "a highly competent person."
He added however that "there a number of other highly competent people whose names have already been put forward and probably a range of further competent people whose names have not yet been put forward."
While rejecting that geographical criteria should play a role in the choice of the next IMF chief, Rudd did stress the growing importance of Asian economies.
"It's important that we are mindful of shifting global geo-economic realities and the fact that in the decades ahead, 40 percent of global GDP will come from the Asia-Pacific region," he pointed out.
A possible Australian candidate would be discussed by his government at the beginning of next week, Rudd added.
Stoere agreed that the next head of the IMF should be chosen on merit alone.
"It must be made clear that the requirements (for the position) should rest on qualification and trust in order to take on a function that was already difficult and that is even more so now, in light of what has happened in recent days," the Norwegian foreign minister said.
© 2011 AFP