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Mark Rutte may become next NATO chief

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the support of two-thirds of NATO countries to lead the military alliance later this year, Politico informed.

“After very intense rounds of discussions among the allies we are now at the point where over 20 NATO allies are prepared to support Prime Minister Rutte as the next secretary-general.”

Officials believe Rutte, who has been campaigning for the post since November, is the only candidate nominated by the governments of the alliance’s 31 members. Under NATO rules, the secretary-general’s candidacy must be elected unanimously, which means Rutte must also win the support of the remaining nations.

There is increasing momentum behind his candidacy.

Rutte is expected to replace Jens Stoltenberg, who has led NATO since 2014. US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith stated last week that allies should aim to “complete the selection process probably in the first quarter of this calendar year.”

Another senior NATO official claimed that about 10 countries were still abstaining from voting.

“We will continue to hear their questions and concerns. And we encourage… the Dutch mission at NATO to answer those questions.”

Countries are reportedly holding back their support for different reasons. Turkey demands that Rutte should not favour EU countries in the alliance, whereas Hungary does not endorse Rutte because of his harsh criticism of the country’s rollback of democracy.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas voiced interest in NATO’s top post, but alliance officials stated that she was not running as she had not nominated herself. The same goes for Latvian Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, who acted similarly last year to test the ground.

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