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NATO appoints Mark Rutte, outgoing prime minister of the Netherlands, as next secretary general

"It is a tremendous honor. Leading this organization is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I’m grateful to all the allies for placing their trust in me," he said.

Mark Rutte(Nick Gammon / AFP)

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On Wednesday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced the appointment of Mark Rutte, outgoing prime minister of the Netherlands, as the new secretary general of the international alliance.

Rutte's appointment was confirmed during a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, after his only rival for the post, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, withdrew his candidacy.

Rutte's road to NATO was not a smooth one, however. Hungary and Turkey initially opposed his candidacy. Hungary lifted its objection in early June after Rutte agreed that the country would have no future obligations to send personnel or provide funds for a new support plan for Ukraine, while Turkey withdrew its objection in April.

The new secretary general will be formally welcomed at a summit to be held in Washington, D.C., from July 9-11. However, it will not be until Oct. 1 that Rutte takes office and replaces the current Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, who has held the post for more than a decade.

Following the decision, Stoltenberg expressed confidence in who will become the organization's new secretary general. "He is a true transatlanticist, a strong leader and a consensus-builder. I wish him every success as we continue to strengthen NATO. I know I am leaving NATO in good hands," he said.

Rutte's remarks

Rutte called his appointment a "tremendous honor" and stressed the importance of NATO in collective security. On his social media, he said, "The Alliance is and will remain the cornerstone of our collective security. Leading this organi[z]ation is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I’m grateful to all the Allies for placing their trust in me."

International Reactions

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised Rutte's appointment, highlighting his leadership and experience as "crucial for the Alliance during these challenging times." Von der Leyen added: "I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the EU-NATO partnership."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also congratulated Rutte, writing online, "You will maneuver our alliance safely through rough weather. I'm looking forward to the cooperation."