Baltic States Endorse Dutch PM Rutte as NATO Secretary General in “Trump Whisperer Win”

This July, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is expected to announce its new Secretary General after the exceptionally long 10-year term of Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg took the post in 2014 and served two full terms, however, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine he was appointed to stay on for two additional one-year stints.

Dutch PM Wins Out Amongst Western and Baltic Members

The competition between announced candidates is fierce as the former-Soviet Union nations and Turkey are sure to present their own candidates and interdict Western European candidates if their interests are not sufficiently regarded. The front-runner currently is Dutch Prime Minister Rutte who, today, has secured the backing of two Baltic States: Estonia and Lithuania.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was a favorite to stand for the position due to several states’ intent to appoint the first woman Secretary General. However, she endorsed Rutte along with Lithuania President Nauseda. President Nauseda made this statement with Rutte standing alongside in Vilnius:

“I have known Dear Mark for several years and this was one of those politicians who recognized the russian threats very early on, who adapted and changed his attitude towards Russia very strongly, and who is extremely sensitive and aware of the threats to NATO’s eastern flank.”

The Trump Calculus

Rutte has been a favorite of Western NATO member states due to his reputation as a “Trump Whisperer” after saving a derailing meeting between the NATO leaders in July 2018 when U.S. President Trump demanded that member states raise their spending to 2%. It was Rutte who famously saved the meeting by assuring President Trump that the spending had been raised and will continue to do so. If President Trump is re-elected in the November 2024 presidential elections, NATO partners will most likely face enhanced scrutiny from that administration to meet spending goals.

The East’s Candidate

However, the NATO alliance does have its own rancorous block to the East, keep in mind that Turkey held up the nomination of a previous secretary general and now that there is competition with Romanian President Iohannis, there could be a severe deadlock in unanimous selection for the new secretary general. Hungary has already flatly stated that it will not support Rutte’s candidacy due to his critical comments of the Hungarian government. The pros of an Iohannis candidacy are that Romania did exceed its spending goals and significantly assist Ukraine through U.S-basing agreements. This is juxta-posed to the Netherlands which has still not met its 2% threshold.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that: “We certainly can’t support the election of a person to the position of NATO’s secretary-general, who previously wanted to force Hungary on its knees,” earlier this month. If the Turkish government joins Hungary in backing Iohannis or another candidate, the alliance could relive the uncomfortable memory of Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession, although this time NATO would not have a Secretary-General.

However, the securing of the majority of the Baltic States, the Quad, and several other nations is significant. The Baltic States have a special place in NATO due to their close proximity to the Russian Federation, historical wars with the Soviet Union, and the hosting of several NATO formations on their soil. There is no formal process for nominating secretary generals, rather in a collective forum the member states vote on declared candidates.

Tessaron
Tessaron
United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.

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