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Rutte gains strong support from backers for next NATO Secretary-General, Bloomberg

Rutte gains strong support from backers for next NATO Secretary-General, Bloomberg Mark Rutte (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

Supporters of the current Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, insist that he becomes the next NATO Secretary-General. This could happen as early as this year, according to Bloomberg.

It is noted that the decision regarding the new NATO Secretary-General must be unanimous, and a Dutch politician is already a clear favorite to succeed the current Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg when his term expires in October.

However, some Eastern European countries still do not fully support Rutte.

Rutte will have to step down as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands

"Rutte made an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week when he urged European countries to spend more on defense, a common refrain from former US President Donald Trump who is a strong contender to reclaim the White House in November. Rutte also backed US and UK attacks against the Houthis earlier this month," the material writes.

The role of the NATO Secretary-General will be particularly crucial as Russia's war against Ukraine is expected to last for many years. The NATO Secretary-General will have to balance avoiding any direct side effects or wider escalation between the alliance and Russia while encouraging allies to provide military and financial support to Ukraine.

Rutte will conclude his 13-year term as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands after the Dutch government collapsed in July due to disagreements over migration policy. He will resign once a new coalition government is agreed upon, which will be led by far-right politician Geert Wilders.

Rutte has the support of NATO members

He is seen as a candidate who can manage Trump.

In October, Rutte stated that he was willing to take on this role. However, in Davos, he refused to comment on whether he is still running.

"Trump’s main issue was that we were not spending enough. He was right," Rutte said.

Despite broad support from major NATO countries, including France and Germany, NATO ambassadors have not officially endorsed Rutte's candidacy.

The issue of the new NATO Secretary-General is expected to be resolved this spring

Some Eastern flank countries seek broader regional representation in top positions in the organization.

Although the Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed interest in the role last year, their countries have not officially nominated them.

"NATO allies are still aiming to finalize the process this spring to avoid the role getting caught up in horse-trading around top jobs following the European Union elections," Bloomberg writes.

This schedule may be extended, but most allies expect the decision to be finalized by the NATO leaders' summit in Washington in July.

The United States supports Rutte

The media writes that the U.S. has twice approached Rutte with an offer to take on the role of Secretary-General. The last time, he declined, as he did not anticipate his government collapsing as quickly as it did.

Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of the transatlantic alliance for both Europe and the U.S., stating that Washington would remain an important ally regardless of the outcome of the U.S. elections.

NATO Summit in Washington

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană stated that Ukraine would be one of the priorities at the next NATO leaders' summit, scheduled to take place in Washington in July 2024.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak believes that more decisive actions are needed regarding Ukraine's NATO membership.