15 JUNE 2009


Inevitably, Bernard Kouchner has been regularly linked with U.N. work. An inside joke during "Boutros-Boutros Ghali" time revolved around repeated requests by President Mitterand to locate a senior post for his partisan friend. He was labeled "Bernard-Bernard Kouchner."

Again, when President Sarkozy took over last year and persuaded the long-time socialist to desert his party and join as Foreign Minister, talk inside the Elysee Palace was that he will not be staying there for long. A possible option mentioned in case of an expected reshuffle was the post of U.N. Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping. However, the outcome of the municipal election last year did not allow for a change. A Sarkozy nominee, Alain LeRoy, who had ably handled the Mediterranean summit was given that job. Ambassador Ripost, who was initially the Quai d'Orsay candidate remained as head of the French mission.

Now there is revived talk about Dr. Kouchner leaving Foreign Affairs after the elections for the European Parliament in June. Likely ministers affected are three: Raihida Dati (Justice), Agriculture Minister Michel Bernier, and Kouchner. A likely option for Dr. Kouchner is that of Permanent Representative of France to the U.N. in New York. The post would be very attractive to someone quite at ease with the American media -- or any media for that matter, and the visibility that goes with the membership of the Security Council. Actually, the current Representative, Jean-Maurice Ripert, is a close associate of Dr. Kouchner, in addition to being an outstanding diplomat who comes from a distinguished U.N. family; his father was number 2 at the Secretariat under Secretary General Perez de Ceullar. But political requirements may dictate finding an agreeable opening for the ever-restless Foreign Minister by a similarly ever-restless President of the Republic.

Anyway, we'll find out in a month's time.