Reuters International

Slovakian Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Lajcak addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - The Slovak government on Wednesday nominated Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak as a candidate for secretary-general of the United Nations.

Lajcak, 53, is a third-time foreign minister in the leftist government led by Prime Minister Robert Fico and served as both the High Representative and the EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The current U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon steps down at the end of the year after two five-year terms. Some predict there could up to 15 candidates by the time the Security Council holds its first informal straw poll in July.

Under an informal tradition of rotating the top post between regions, it is Eastern Europe's turn.

When the United Nations kicked off the race for the job in December, the world body's 193 members were encouraged to put forward a woman candidate. A man has held the position since its inception 70 years ago.

Moscow-educated Lajcak, who oversaw the 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum, has on occasion tempered Fico's anti-immigrant stance in Europe's migration crisis, but also objected to a quota system for distributing asylum seekers among EU member states.

Speaking privately in April, some diplomats said former Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark were favourites after each nominee was quizzed for two hours by the General Assembly.

(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Jason Hovet and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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