Dutch PM Mark Rutte can be appointed as new NATO Sec.-gen. as early as April

Dutch PM Mark Rutte can be appointed as new NATO Sec.-gen. as early as April The decision to appoint Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the new Secretary General of NATO will happen soon
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February 22, 2024 13:16
Dutch PM Mark Rutte can be appointed as new NATO Sec.-gen. as early as April

The decision to appoint Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the new Secretary General of NATO will happen soon, expects former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (2004-2009), Report informs referring to NL Times.

There can always be developments in the final moments, but Rutte has broad support, and “I assume it will turn out well,” De Hoop Scheffer said on Nieuwsuur.

“I think Mark Rutte has a very good chance of being appointed,” De Hoop Scheffer said. “There is a large, important group of countries that support Rutte’s candidacy, and I think we can expect the decision sooner rather than later.” He thinks the appointment could happen as soon as April 4, on NATO’s 75th anniversary. “Then NATO Foreign Ministers will meet in Brussels. That could be an opportunity.”

NATO officials told the journalistic platform Politico that Rutte has the support of two-thirds of NATO member states. They said that his name is the only one still mentioned after months of being considered the top contender for leadership of the alliance.

If Rutte is appointed as the new Secretary General of NATO in just over a month, he will have to decide whether to step down as the outgoing Prime Minister of the Netherlands. With the Cabinet formation talks having to restart earlier this month after Pieter Omtzigt pulled his NSC out of negotiations with the PVV, VVD, and BBB, it seems very unlikely that there will be a new Cabinet by April. Rutte hasn’t said what he intended to do, and there has never been a situation like this in recent Dutch history.

According to De Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary General’s most important task is keeping the NATO member states together. “That sounds easy, but it is incredibly difficult due to the divergent interests,” he said. “A Secretary General has relatively little power, but he must build authority, and Rutte has a huge advantage in this. The whole world knows him, and he knows the whole world. So he comes from a position with a lot of authority.”

The next leader “must turn NATO into a very robust NATO on the eastern border to prevent Putin from experimenting on NATO territory,” De Hoop Scheffer said. He referred to statements by NATO Admiral Rob Bauer, who recently said that member states should prepare themselves for a partial war economy focused on producing defense equipment instead of the market. A sensible choice, De Hoop Scheffer thinks. The war in Ukraine is close to European territory and could come closer, he said. And that needs a change in mentality.

As an example, De Hoop Scheffer mentioned scrapping the taboo on pension funds investing in weapons. “I think that is part of that rethink because we are in a different situation. That requires a complete policy change and a government willing to think along with us,” he said. “NATO is a political-military alliance, in that order. A NATO Secretary General can pull that cart together with the president of the European Commission because something has to be done.”

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