Way is clear for Mark Rutte to become next NATO chief

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has announced that he no longer opposes Mark Rutte becoming NATO's new secretary-general. With Hungary's veto out of the way, the Dutch prime minister is set to become the alliance's next leader.

The election of a new secretary-general requires consensus among all 31 member states. Hungary was seen as the main obstacle to Rutte's appointment, succeeding Norway's Jens Stoltenberg.

According to Orban, Rutte confirmed that Hungary would not be obliged to participate in the alliance's activities in Ukraine if he becomes NATO chief, nor will Hungary have to contribute personnel or money. "In view of this commitment, Hungary is ready to support him," Orban said on X.

Orban had also asked Rutte to apologise for a remark he made in 2021, saying that Hungary "does not belong in the EU" if it passed a controversial law that violates LGBTQIA+ rights. In the end, Rutte did not have to apologise, but the Dutchman said that as NATO chief he would work hard to "maintain unity and treat all allies with the same level of understanding and respect".

Only Romania left

With Hungary's support, only Romania still stands in the way of Rutte's appointment. Romanian president Klaus Iohannis has put himself forward as a candidate, but no other country supports his candidacy. Dutch public broadcaster NOS has reported that Iohannis will soon withdraw from the race.

"I think it is now clear that we are very close to a solution," Stoltenberg said on Tuesday. "This is good news. I think Mark Rutte is a very strong candidate. He has a lot of experience as a prime minister."

Rutte's appointment could come very soon, as the US wants to speed up the process. President Joe Biden wants Rutte to be the next secretary general by July, in time for the NATO summit in Washington.


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US, UK, Germany and France support Mark Rutte as next NATO chief
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