Mark Rutte set to be next NATO chief after securing Romania’s backing


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is to be named the next Secretary General of NATO after  Romania the last member to give its vote  agreed to back his candidacy.

Mr. Rutte will take the helm as the transatlantic defense military alliance balances Russian aggression and doubts about U.S. support.

The appointment was confirmed Thursday ahead of a summit scheduled to be held in Washington early next month, marking the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis had also put himself forward to be Secretary General, the leader of  the Brussels-based organization, but the Romanian government has now offered its support to Rutte, according to a press release.

The incumbent, Jens Stoltenberg, has been in the post since 2014 and had been due to stand down last year but agreed to stay on.

The wrangling appears to be part of a wider bid from  East European candidates for top jobs at top European institutions. Estonian PremierKaja Kallas, also  vied  for the top NATO job but subsequently withdrew and is now a frontrunner to be the EU’s foreign policy chief.

Mr. Rutte had to win support from Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who did not want to be forced to support Ukraine.

Mr. Rutte has led the Netherlands since 2010, managing a difficult  coalitions, and is set to step down on 2 July. .

Last weekend, he attended the Ukraine summit in Switzerland, from which he promised the Netherlands will „continue to support Ukraine any way we can. For as long as it takes and with all the backing that is necessary.”

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