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Rutte can become NATO Secretary General – Romania abandons blockade

Rutte can become NATO Secretary General – Romania abandons blockade
Rutte can become NATO Secretary General – Romania abandons blockade

Who will succeed Jens Stoltenberg as NATO Secretary General? Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was considered for a long time. But not everyone agreed with that – until now.

The way is clear for the appointment of Mark Rutte as the next Secretary General of NATO after months of blockade. Romania was the last member of the alliance to announce on Thursday that it would give up its opposition to the outgoing Dutch head of government being given the top post.

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis withdrew his own candidacy, the presidential office announced on Thursday in Bucharest. At the same time, Romania now supports Rutte’s candidacy, it said. This was decided by the country’s Supreme Defense Council (CSAT), which is chaired by Iohannis.

Hungary, Slovakia and Turkey had already taken this step recently. For a long time, these three countries, together with Romania, were the only NATO states that still blocked the appointment of 57-year-old Rutte as Jens Stoltenberg’s successor.

Romania and Hungary blocked Rutte as Stoltenberg’s successor

Hungary recently gave up its resistance after Rutte agreed to Hungarian demands. One of the issues was that Hungary wanted to be sure that it would 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 a direct confrontation with Russia.

Until recently, Romania had its own candidate for the top job, President Iohannis. However, alliance circles suspected that Iohannis was primarily interested in being offered some other top international position as an alternative. The Romanian’s second term in office ends in the autumn and he will then no longer be able to run for office in Romania.

Jens Stoltenberg second longest-serving NATO chief

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 again. At the time, possible candidates to succeed Stoltenberg included Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the then British Defense Minister Ben Wallace.

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.

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 publicly backed Rutte in February. Additional support also came from the USA and Great Britain. Alliance circles said on Thursday that it was very likely that Rutte could be officially presented as Stoltenberg’s successor as early as next week.

Rutte is considered to be an extremely experienced foreign policy maker. He was most recently head of government of the Netherlands for almost 14 years, longer than anyone before him and thus one of the longest-serving in the EU.

Note: This post has been updated.

Source: Stern

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