Dutch leader Mark Rutte to be next NATO chief

What happened

Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is set to become the next secretary general of NATO after his lone challenger, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, dropped his bid Thursday.

Who said what

Securing the support of all 32 NATO members “took a very long time,” but “it’s an honor that it appears to have happened,” Rutte said. Romania, the last holdout, endorsed Rutte’s candidacy after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán dropped his opposition Tuesday.

Iohannas joined the race to lead NATO amid grumbling from Central and Eastern European members about the prospect of yet another Western European leader when the alliance’s biggest crisis was Russia’s Ukraine war, on NATO’s eastern flank. Rutte, who spent 14 years as Dutch prime minister, “is known for his pragmatism, his skill for building coalitions and his staunch transatlantic views,” Politico said. He has been “so adept at preventing political stains sticking to him that he earned the nickname Teflon Mark,” The Associated Press said.

What next?

NATO ambassadors are expected to formalize Rutte’s selection within days, before a July 9-11 summit in Washington, D.C. He would take over from outgoing Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in October. 

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