Mark Rutte was chosen by the alliance after the president of Romania withdrew; will succeed Jens Stoltenberg on October 1

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has won the race to become the new Secretary General of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). About to step down as prime minister, Rutte emerged as the consensus candidate after his only rival withdrew.

According to the British newspaper Guardian, Rutte is expected to be formally confirmed as NATO secretary-general in the coming days, taking up the role on October 1, when current head Jens Stoltenberg will step down from the role after nearly a decade.

Rutte’s appointment comes at a critical time for the Western alliance, marked by continued pressure on Ukraine and the possibility of former US president Donald Trump, known for his criticism of NATO, returning to the US presidency.

At 57 years old, Rutte secured the support of key NATO countries, such as the USA, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, thanks to his firm stance in support of Ukraine and criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. To win the position, which requires unanimous approval from NATO’s 32 members, he had to overcome hesitation from Turkey and opposition from Hungary.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán consented to the appointment after Rutte agreed that no resources from Hungary would be used for the alliance’s activities in Ukraine.

The withdrawal of Klaus Iohannis, president of Romania, from the dispute and his subsequent support for Rutte were decisive factors.

Known for his ability to avoid scandals and his direct approach, Rutte has led 4 consecutive coalition governments in the Netherlands. Under his leadership, the Dutch government provided €2.63 billion in military support to Ukraine and pledged a further €2 billion for 2024, emphasizing the importance of the Ukrainian victory for European security.

Rutte also played a crucial role in the decision to supply Kiev with F-16 fighter jets, a move that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described as “historical”.

He will leave the government of the Netherlands on July 2 after holding the position for almost 14 years. He resigned in July 2023. He will be replaced by Dick Schoof (independent).


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