Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has emerged as a frontrunner for the role of NATO's next secretary general, according to a report from Bloomberg, which cites Rutte's strong support from Washington as a key factor positioning his candidacy.
The Dutch and US governments have been in talks about Rutte's chances of becoming NATO chief when he said he was open to the job.
The decision on the appointment of the secretary general must be unanimous from 31 NATO members, but the opinion of the United States as the leader of the military alliance always has the greatest weight.
Rutte's rivals are Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins, but Bloomberg writes that they may face problems because the Baltic states are considered "too aggressive" towards Moscow.
The outlet claims that NATO wants to appoint a new secretary general at a summit in Washington in the summer of 2024.
Journalists note Rutte's experience deftly engaging the unpredictable Trump administration makes him well-suited to also manage future U.S. leadership, should Trump win the 2024 election. His established working relationship with the former president, who previously questioned America's NATO commitments, could help ensure solid cross-Atlantic cooperation regardless of domestic political dynamics.
According to one of the sources, apart from the United States, Rutte is likely to be supported by Turkey and Hungary, with whom he has good relations.
In 2014, Jens Stoltenberg became the NATO chief. Stoltenberg's term of office was extended in 2019 and 2022. On June 16, he once again emphasized that he does not want to remain the secretary general of NATO after the end of his term of office. At the same time, according to the media, Joe Biden allegedly personally persuaded Stoltenberg to remain at the helm of the alliance.
Earlier, the former British defense secretary, Ben Wallace, also applied for this position, saying that this is the job he would like.