Allies welcome Mark Rutte's appointment as next NATO chief

Allies welcome Mark Rutte's appointment as next NATO chief

Outgoing Dutch prime minister will take over as secretary general of military alliance on Oct. 1

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) - Leaders and politicians on Wednesday welcomed Mark Rutte's appointment as NATO’s next secretary general.

NATO announced early Wednesday that the outgoing Dutch prime minister was formally confirmed as chief of the military alliance, replacing Jens Stoltenberg who remained at the helm for a decade.

Rutte was the sole candidate after Romanian President Klaus Iohannis withdrew from the race to head NATO last week.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak congratulated Rutte, who will take charge on Oct. 1, on his appointment as the 14th NATO chief.

I am confident you will continue @jensstoltenberg's outstanding work in keeping NATO strong and united, as we work to strengthen our collective defence and support Ukraine’s fight for freedom," he wrote on X.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the alliance "has rarely been as important as it is today."

"Your experience, your security policy expertise and your diplomatic skills are in the right place. A good choice for freedom and security," he added.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said Rutte's "steady hand and long experience will be highly valuable."

The Nordic country's foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, expressed his full confidence and called Rutte's appointment "excellent news" for the alliance.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Rutte is an "excellent leader" for a strong and united NATO.

"His leadership and experience will be invaluable in guiding NATO through current and future challenges," said Hadja Lahbib, the Belgian foreign minister.

NATO's outgoing chief Stoltenberg also wished success to Rutte. "Mark is a true transatlanticist, a strong leader and a consensus-builder," he posted on X.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, said Rutte's leadership and experience will be "crucial for the Alliance during these challenging times."

"I trust that your commitment to EU defence & EU-NATO cooperation will further boost our strategic partnership. EU-NATO common work is a pillar for European & Transatlantic security," said the bloc's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

Following the announcement, Rutte said: "It is a tremendous honour to be appointed Secretary-General of NATO. The Alliance is and will remain the cornerstone of our collective security."

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