NATO secretary general receives Belgium's highest honour

On Friday, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg received Belgium's highest honour, the Grand Cordon in the Order of Leopold.

Stoltenberg has held the position since 2014, making him the alliance's second-longest serving secretary general. His term expires this year. He received the Grand Cordon from Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib.

"Under your guidance, NATO welcomed Montenegro, North Macedonia, Finland and Sweden into the alliance," De Croo said, adding that the countries joined "because of the aggression that Russia has shown over the last two years". 

In 2014, "dark clouds were gathering on our eastern borders", De Croo said, as Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and stirred unrest in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. A full-scale invasion of Ukraine followed in 2022. 

"The alliance has never lost its unity," De Croo said, adding that NATO must continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs. He thanked Stoltenberg for creating an alliance "ready for the future" and for consolidating NATO's deterrence and defence efforts.

Stoltenberg praised Belgium, a founding member of NATO, for its contributions to the alliance. NATO's headquarters have been in Brussels since 1967, and Belgium is also home to the SHAPE military headquarters.



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