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Five Challenges for the New NATO Secretary General

Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will face five challenges when he takes over as NATO Secretary General.

Izvor: Tanjug

Five Challenges for the New NATO Secretary General


The possible return of former American President Donald Trump to the White House, the issue of military support for Ukraine, European leaders sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin, complaints from the Eastern bloc, and the lack of money for defense, the list goes on and on.

Rutte's campaign for secretary-general ended yesterday when he secured the support of all 32 NATO allies.

Romania is the latest to announce its support after Romanian President Klaus Iohannis withdrew from the race to become the Alliance's new secretary-general on Thursday.

The mandate of the current Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, ends on October 1. Rutte will first face the possible return to power of former US President Donald Trump, who is skeptical of NATO, bearing in mind that the presidential elections will in the US to be held four weeks after Rutte takes up his new position.

During the campaign, Trump threatened to end US aid to Ukraine if he returned to the White House, which could deal a serious blow to the NATO ally's credibility in helping Ukraine defend against Russia, given that the US is by far the largest donor of military aid to Kyiv, states Politiko.

In addition, Trump's re-election will almost certainly disrupt NATO's plan to prepare Ukraine for future membership in the alliance, adds Politiko and recalls that Trump said of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he may be "the greatest trader of any politician who ever lived" because recently left the USA with 60 billion dollars, and upon arrival in Ukraine said that he needed another 60 billion dollars.

Another challenge for Rutte will be to support Ukraine because, as soon as he takes office, Kyiv will call him for help with the approach of winter.

In recent months, Russia has stepped up attacks against Ukraine's thermal power plants and dams, and Stoltenberg said the solution lies in more air defense systems that could protect energy suppliers as well as maintenance personnel working to repair damaged facilities.

In the case of Rutte's Netherlands, NATO countries are scrambling to deploy to build air defense systems. But Europe doesn't have that much to send, progress in the US has been delayed in Congress, and countries close to Russia are less than willing to give up their air shields at this dangerous time, notes Politico.

Rutte's third challenge will be forcing NATO members to pay for defense. This week, NATO celebrated a record number of 23 allies reaching the goal of allocating two percent of GDP to defense spending, but a third of the alliance is still missing that goal.

As the fourth challenge facing Rutte, it is stated that the countries on the border with Russia are not his biggest fans.

"They were angry at the low defense spending of the Netherlands, and they are upset because the main role in NATO has always gone to the western and northern European countries, even though the countries of the eastern flank have been in the alliance for a quarter of a century," indicates Politico.

Thus, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kalas did not enter the race for NATO Secretary General after being told that she would not receive the support of countries such as the USA, France, and Germany, and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis only received the support of Hungary.

Eastern flank countries are now likely to seek better representation at NATO's secondary level, i.e. the post of Deputy Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General.

And as one of Rutte's first tasks, as head of NATO, will be to appoint a deputy, he will face pressure to appoint someone from Eastern countries to that position, Politiko estimates.

The fifth challenge for Rutte will be European leaders who are sympathetic to Putin. "It is not only Trump who will have to be convinced by Rutte to keep NATO alive and well. Across Europe, NATO-skeptic and far-right parties that love Putin are flourishing," claims Politiko.

As an example, he cites France as a country on the brink of parliamentary elections that could lead to big gains for Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally, forcing Stoltenberg to plead with Paris to "keep NATO strong."

And the leader of the far-right Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, to whom Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy lost the election, previously said of Putin that he "applauds him as he applauds Trump for being leaders, standing there on behalf of the Russian and of the American people".

Rutte should not be afraid that his new job will be boring, concludes Politiko.


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