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Hungary against election of Rutte as NATO Secretary-General - Politico

Hungary against election of Rutte as NATO Secretary-General - Politico Photo: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (Getty Images)

Hungary does not support the candidacy of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for the position of NATO Secretary General, which will become vacant later this year, according to the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó.

Politico notes that Budapest's opposition adds uncertainty to the succession plan for the top position in the Alliance. A third of the 31 NATO member countries have not yet declared their support for Rutte, despite endorsements from the United States.

The Dutch Prime Minister has been a long-time critic of the current Hungarian government. In 2021, Rutte condemned the new anti-LGBT legislation introduced by Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, stating that the country "no longer has a place in the European Union." At that time, the Dutch politician remarked, "The long-term goal is to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue."

"We certainly can’t support the election of a person to the position of NATO’s secretary general, who previously wanted to force Hungary on its knees," stated Szijjártó.

The comments were made a few days before the meeting between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Donald Trump in the United States.

The source notes that London, Paris, and Berlin have pledged to support Rutte's bid to join NATO. With a reputation as a "Trump whisperer," Rutte is seen in some circles as an ideal partner in the event of the former NATO-skeptic president's victory in the US elections in November.

Politico also pointed out that a group of countries on the eastern flank, close to the Russian border, remains uncertain about Rutte's candidacy but for different reasons.

"The Baltic countries are unhappy about Rutte's lack of commitment on Dutch defense spending, while Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is displeased with the Netherlands' long-standing resistance to his country's joining the Schengen zone. Last month, Iohannis told allies he has decided to challenge Rutte," Politico stated.

Candidates for the NATO Secretary General position

The term of the current NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, concludes on October 1, 2024.

Member countries of the Alliance have been discussing various options for the new head of the organization. Among the potential candidates was former UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace, but his candidacy did not receive support from the United States.

There were also rumors about appointing the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as the NATO Secretary General.

On February 22, Politico reported that US President Joe Biden supports the appointment of Mark Rutte as the NATO Secretary General after the end of Stoltenberg's term.

Sky News reported that the United Kingdom also supports Rutte's candidacy.