Norway’s Stoltenberg confirmed for NATO top job

Jens Stoltenberg [Arbeiderpartiet]

Jens Stoltenberg [Arbeiderpartiet]

NATO ambassadors chose former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as the next leader of the Western military alliance, NATO said today (28 March).

He will take over as secretary-general from 1 October, succeeding Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO said in a statement.

Rasmussen said on Twitter that Stoltenberg was “the right man to build on NATO’s record of strength and success”, and said the Ukraine crisis showed the need for NATO to have continued strong and determined leadership.

Stoltenberg, who served for nearly 10 years in total as Norway’s prime minister before losing power in elections last September, was backed by the United States, NATO’s dominant power, and Germany. British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that he also backed Stoltenberg.

Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who took office in 2009, is due to step down at the end of September, after a September 4-5 NATO summit in Wales which will mark almost the end of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan.

Stoltenberg is the leader of the Norwegian Labour Party, of social-democratic ideology, with observer status to the Socialist International. 

The Norwegian politician will take over at a time when NATO, seen by some as a Cold War relic, has gained new relevance because of Russia’s occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region [more].

NATO foreign ministers are expected to discuss at a meeting next week how they can reinforce NATO’s military presence in eastern European countries such as the Baltics and Poland which are nervous about heightened tensions with Russia.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Belgian defence minister Pieter de Crem, and former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, have previously been tipped for the NATO top job.


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