Dutch PM Rutte Gains Momentum as Frontrunner for NATO Secretary General

World | February 22, 2024, Thursday // 11:18
Bulgaria: Dutch PM Rutte Gains Momentum as Frontrunner for NATO Secretary General @Wikimedia Commons

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has garnered backing from over two-thirds of NATO's 31 member nations for the role of the alliance's next secretary general, according to sources cited by Politico.

Senior diplomats in Brussels revealed that Rutte's candidacy gained significant traction following extensive discussions and negotiations, making him the primary contender thus far.

While NATO regulations mandate unanimous agreement for the selection of the Secretary General, pressure is mounting to finalize the decision before the upcoming summit in Washington in July, when Rutte is expected to succeed Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, who has held the position since 2014.

Despite Rutte's considerable support, a handful of countries remain undecided or hesitant, with Turkey expressing concerns about potential European bias and Hungary facing tensions due to Rutte's criticism of its democratic practices.

The Baltic states, meanwhile, are advocating for increased support for Ukraine's NATO membership, leaving their stance on Rutte unclear.

Speculation regarding potential candidates, including Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins, has circulated in the past, but Rutte's candidacy has emerged as the frontrunner.

Amidst Rutte's aspirations for the NATO leadership role, discussions in Bulgaria have suggested potential support for his candidacy, possibly linked to the Netherlands' endorsement of Bulgaria's Schengen Zone accession, which was confirmed in December 2023 after a prolonged blockade.

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Tags: NATO, Secretary General, Mark Rutte, Diplomatic Negotiations

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