Internal disagreement over Stoltenberg's successor in NATO

Internal disagreement over Stoltenberg's successor in NATO

one of them? Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Klaus Johannes (centre) and Mark Rutte in The Hague in June 2023. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP/NTB

NATO's 32 member states have not yet been able to agree on a new Secretary-General after Jens Stoltenberg, who will leave his post in the fall.

A few months ago, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was the favorite to take over from Stoltenberg as of October 1.

But then, Hungary voiced strong objections to Rutte. Before Easter, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced himself as a candidate for the highest position of trust in NATO.

When NATO countries' ambassadors met in Brussels on Tuesday morning, it quickly became clear that the process of agreeing on a new Secretary-General would take additional time.

This was confirmed by VG from sources at NATO headquarters.

USA wants roti

The United States remains fully supportive of Mark Rutte. This was confirmed by the US Ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, after the NATO Council meeting on Tuesday.

“But we have deep respect for Yohannes’ candidacy, and we wish him the best of luck,” Smith said at a press conference.

Rutte also received support from Great Britain, France, Germany and from Norway:

-We have a very good relationship with both Holland and Mark Rutte, and a good impression of him. But if you say anything more, it might look like we chose it, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told VG in November.

Support from several

Estonia and Lithuania also celebrated their support for Rutte on Tuesday, according to the German news agency DPA.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spoke to Mark Rutte by phone on Sunday, was not clear: Turkey will choose the secretary-general based on its own needs, according to a statement from the president's office.

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Erdogan directly told Rutte that the next Secretary-General must combat terrorism and must meet the additional needs of non-EU NATO countries.


There were expectations at NATO headquarters that member states could agree on Stoltenberg's successor before the April meeting of NATO foreign ministers, which begins in Brussels on Wednesday.

While this is unlikely to happen, it may be delayed longer until the EU elections in June and the NATO summit in Washington in the summer.

If the countries have not yet reached an agreement by the time of the summit, the heads of state and government will likely have to go to Stoltenberg and ask him again to extend the working agreement with NATO.

Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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