Home News Dutch leader clears final hurdle to become NATO secretary general

Dutch leader clears final hurdle to become NATO secretary general


Mark Rutte, the outgoing prime minister of the Netherlands, has mentored Netherlands offers $3 billion in military support Trump has been serving as NATO secretary-general since 2022, and on Thursday he received the final assurances he needed to serve as the alliance’s next secretary-general.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis Give up running for NATO leadershipRutte, 57, is almost certain to be formally elected to a four-year term as president of the Atlantic Alliance.

The appointment could come as early as next week, ahead of a high-level NATO summit in Washington in July. The Netherlands is one of NATO’s founding members, and Rutte would become the fourth Dutch official to serve as NATO’s top diplomat.

Even if that happens, he would not immediately assume responsibility for the 32-nation NATO alliance. Rutte has led the Netherlands since 2010 and remains prime minister in the country’s transitional government. Current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is currently expected to stay in office until the end of his term in October, said a diplomat who requested anonymity in accordance with protocol.

Rutte has increasingly echoed a key NATO message that supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russia is essential to preserving democracy and national sovereignty across NATO.

“This war is not only about defending the freedom of the Ukrainian people, but also about protecting the freedom and security of the Netherlands,” Rutte said during a meeting with the Ukrainian president. Government website home page“So we don’t abandon those who need it most.”

However, Mr Rutte is not seen as unwilling to deal with Russia or Moscow’s few allies in Nato, and some candidates from eastern Europe or the Baltic states have expressed interest in the top job.

“It’s a consensus organization, so you need to get 32 ​​allies on board,” said Camille Grand, a former NATO assistant secretary general and now a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “If you are seen as leaning toward a particular area of ​​the alliance, or as being too dovish or too hawkish, then things get complicated.”

“There was a concern that it was important to appoint someone who was seen as being in the middle of the coalition and not on the fringes of the debate,” Grande said. “So he ticked all the boxes.”

Mr. Grand knows Mr. Rutte and has worked with him since they were both at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “He has always been very mainstream in meetings,” said Mr. Grand. “He has never been provocative about anything but has always been very supportive of NATO, sometimes even criticizing his colleagues for not being loyal enough.”

Rutte’s criticism of Hungary in 2021 is seen as having nearly cost him the top job at NATO.

Hungary is a member of both NATO and the European Union, and its leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has angered officials in both organizations with some authoritarian policies and ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. In 2021, Mr. Orban’s government Restrict LGBT content The EU leaders are “deeply concerned” about the Prompted Rutte to announce Hungary “is no longer eligible to remain in the EU”.

That set off a three-year feud between the two men, with Mr Orban even suggesting he would not support Mr Rutte’s bid for Nato secretary-general, a post that requires unanimous approval from all members of the alliance. But Mr Orban backed down last week. As part of the agreement Hungary will not continue to provide NATO military assistance to Ukraine during the war, nor will it otherwise support NATO efforts.

In a letter to Orban on Tuesday, Rutte said he would respect the agreement “in his future term as NATO secretary-general.”

But Rutte did not apologize for his comments about Hungary.

“I have also noted that some of my remarks during my tenure as Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 2021 have caused dissatisfaction in Hungary,” Rutte wrote in the June 18 letter. “As a possible future NATO Secretary-General, my first priority is to maintain unity and treat allies with the same understanding and respect.”

NATO allies backing Rutte’s bid are trying to lock in support ahead of a July meeting in Washington. Romanian President Iohannis dropped out of the race as Orban’s concessions showed Rutte’s bid had broad support. On Thursday, Iohannis backed Rutte and announced Romania would deliver one of its much-needed Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine.

Mr. Rutte Announced last July He will not seek re-election in the Netherlands amid divisions in the government over immigration and refugee asylum.

In October, he told Dutch radio He found the job of NATO’s civilian chief “very interesting” and by February he had secured the support of the United States and European powers.

Mr. Rutte is unmarriedliving in the same house in The Hague He bought it as a student with friends and often ride my bike to work.

He is a fan of classical music and the band U2, and his favorite movie is the 1979 film “Hair,” according to a person familiar with the matter. Overview of 2015 In the English version of the Dutch News.

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