NATO finalizes Stoltenberg succession, keeping Rutte as main favorite

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NATO finalizes Stoltenberg succession, keeping Rutte as main favorite

NATO is leading the succession process for Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who has been in office for ten years, with all attention on Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is today the only official candidate in the race for the post and has the majority of votes. Support for the successor to the former Prime Minister of Norway.

After three extensions of his term, the last two forced by a lack of candidates and Russian pressure with the war in Ukraine, Stoltenberg is living out his last months as head of NATO and will meet with Washington’s allies in July. It’s a summit. The stage in which relays are staged.

However, NATO partners plan to achieve the necessary consensus for this decision as early as the spring, that is, a few months before the summit, at which the organization will celebrate its 75th anniversary, allied sources said. In this way, it aims to close the debate before the summit and prevent the position of Associate Secretary General from becoming a bargaining chip in the negotiations between senior European officials after the European elections in June.

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Rutte, who has always been in the polls and publicly ran for the post late last year, is currently the only candidate in the race and has a “significant” number of confirmed endorsements, multiple affiliated sources say. The Dutch Prime Minister will already have the support of the United States, the United Kingdom and the main European allies, although NATO works by consensus and there are still a number of partners who have not given their ‘yes’ to the Dutch leader – it will For example, the case of Hungary and Turkey–.

Within the military organisation, importance is given to a strong profile in deterrence and defence, which is supportive of Ukraine and realistic with Russia. While the contribution in the field of defence, which is one of the great areas of work, is also taken into account. The Netherlands will spend 1.65% of GDP on military spending in 2022, down from 2%, but this is offset by being a country with an important Atlanticist tradition and which has already led NATO on three occasions .

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In fact, the longest serving Allied Secretary General is Dutch politician Joseph Luns, who led NATO in the 1970s and until the mid-1980s. Dirk Stikker, between 1961 and 1963, and more recently, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, from 2004 to 2009, are other Dutchmen who have been heads of military coalitions.

Baltians and women

The Baltic countries, which had laid claim to the post in recent months, notably current Foreign Minister and former Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, now appear to be falling off the shortlist. These countries argue that after 20 years of joining NATO and the European Union, the time has come for a politician from a former Soviet country to hold senior positions like NATO Secretary General.

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In any case, the Atlantic Alliance initiated the succession debate with the aim that the next political leader, for the first time in its history, would be a woman. The prime ministers of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, and of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, appeared as the main favorites in the internal pool, sources confirmed, which also included the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, who had Washington’s approval. . ,

Ultimately, all previous processes to choose Stoltenberg’s successor failed due to a lack of strong candidates – only former British Defense Minister Ben Wallace made a concrete move in 2023 – or a favorite who won the unanimous support of allies.

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