NATO Appoints New Secretary-General

Mark Rutte, a Dutch politician, has received unanimous approval from all NATO members to replace Jens Stoltenberg as the organization’s leader.

Mark Rutte, the acting prime minister of the Netherlands, has been selected to become the next secretary-general of NATO. He will succeed Jens Stoltenberg, who has been in charge of the US-led bloc since 2014.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced his candidacy for the position in March, six months after Rutte began his campaign, but he informed the bloc on Thursday that he was withdrawing from consideration.

Only Hungary had supported Iohannis, but Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on Tuesday that he was now backing Rutte. Slovakia, another holdout, quickly followed suit.

NATO appears to have resolved the succession issue before the July summit in Washington, where the bloc will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Rutte is expected to assume his duties on October 2. However, not everyone is pleased with this news.

“I’m a hard NO on Rutte,” said Richard Grenell, former acting head of US national intelligence and a confidant of former – and possibly future – President Donald Trump. “The president of the United States in January 2025 will pick the NATO secretary-general,” Grenell added. 

“Mark Rutte spent 10+ years destroying our country. His promises are worthless. He’s a pathological liar and a warmongering globalist,” said Dutch political commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek after Orban’s endorsement of Rutte, adding that having him as NATO secretary-general “means serious trouble for humanity.”

Rutte’s critics have pointed out that during his 14 years of leading the EU’s fifth-largest economy, he failed to meet NATO’s target of having military spending account for 2% of the Netherlands’ GDP. Similarly, he did not campaign vigorously in Eastern Europe, where many would have preferred a more hawkish stance on Russia.

Stoltenberg has been at the helm of the bloc for a decade now, with his term extended four times due to disagreements about his successor. The Ukraine conflict in 2022 led to his term being extended through September 2023, which was pushed back again at last year’s summit in Vilnius. 

Meanwhile, Rutte remains the acting prime minister of the Netherlands. He stepped down from the Dutch government last July after his coalition collapsed over immigration policy. The winners of the December 2023 election have not yet formed a cabinet.