Nato: Mark Rutte almost certain to be next Secretary General

Nato: Mark Rutte almost certain to be next Secretary General
Nato: Mark Rutte almost certain to be next Secretary General

Almost all NATO states have agreed on the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the next Secretary General. A Romanian opponent will withdraw, according to a report.

The next Secretary General of NATO will reportedly be the Dutchman Mark Rutte. After Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave up his opposition to the appointment of the outgoing Dutch head of government, the way is as good as clear for Rutte to succeed Jens Stoltenberg.

The only hurdle is the candidacy of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis for the top NATO job, which he has not publicly withdrawn until recently. However, Iohannis no longer has any relevant supporters and it is only a matter of time before he withdraws his application. The Dutch broadcaster reported on Tuesday, citing insiders, that Iohannis will withdraw his candidacy in the near future.

Orban gives in after letter from Mark Rutte

Slovakian President Peter Pellegrini also signaled support for Rutte on Tuesday. He said: “After consultations with both candidates, as well as with Prime Minister Robert Fico and the Slovak government, the Slovak Republic can imagine supporting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for the post of head of the alliance.”

Orban announced on Tuesday that Hungary was ready to support Rutte’s application. He cited a letter from Rutte in which he responded to Hungarian demands as the reason for his relenting on the personnel issue. One of the issues is that Hungary wants to be sure that it will not be pressured into participating in a planned NATO mission to coordinate arms deliveries to Ukraine. Orban’s government fears that the project could push the alliance into direct confrontation with Russia. The original reason for Orban’s blockade was Rutte’s critical comments on the rule of law deficiencies in Hungary.

The current contract of the incumbent NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg runs until October 1st. He has announced several times in the past that he wants to give up the post. Last summer, however, attempts by member states to agree on a successor failed. At the time, possible candidates to succeed Stoltenberg included Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the then British Defense Minister Ben Wallace.

Jens Stoltenberg retires after ten years as NATO Secretary General

However, 59-year-old Rutte quickly became the candidate preferred by many NATO members. However, there were states that were hesitant and critical, including Hungary and Slovakia. A consensus is required within the defense alliance for the appointment of a new Secretary General. This means that none of the current 32 NATO states may raise an objection to the candidate. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already publicly backed Rutte in February. Additional support also came from the USA and Great Britain at the time.

Stoltenberg has held the top job for almost ten years now. This makes him the second longest-serving Secretary General in the history of the alliance. The longest-serving Secretary General was previously the Dutchman Joseph Luns, who served from 1971 to 1984.

NATO plans to present Rutte as its new Secretary General at its anniversary summit in Washington at the beginning of July. If he succeeds Stoltenberg at the beginning of October, he would be the fourth Dutchman to hold this position since the transatlantic alliance was founded over 75 years ago.

Rutte has been head of government of the Netherlands for almost 14 years. However, his conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) lost the parliamentary elections in November to the right-wing populist Geert Wilders.

Source: Stern

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