Domenica, 16 Giugno 2024
the challenge / Romania

Romania bids for NATO leadership against Rutte

"I have decided to enter the competition, we must take on even greater responsibilities," said President Klaus Iohannis. The Dutch premier is endorsed by the US, Germany, France, and the UK, but unanimity is required

Mark Rutte officially faces a contender for the NATO leadership: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. "I have decided to enter the competition for the position of NATO Secretary-General," announced the politician, confirming circulating rumours. The Dutch Prime Minister remains the favourite in the race to get the Alliance's top job and replace outgoing Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Rutte is endorsed by major powers like the US, Germany, France, and the UK. But with unanimity needed for the appointment, the game is wide open, with the Baltic and Eastern European countries tired of seeing power always tilt in favour of the West and intending to make Rutte's life difficult.

"It is time" that Romania, which joined NATO in 2004, "takes on even greater responsibilities given the current security context," declared 64-year-old liberal and Europeanist Iohannis, considering it "a legitimate aspiration" for his country, which "has undergone profound transformations" since joining and "can contribute to shaping a new vision" in the face of the "serious and lasting Russian threat."

Bucharest has been at the forefront after Russian invasion of Ukraine for geographical and geopolitical reasons. Romania shares a 650-kilometer border with Ukraine and hosts a US ballistic missile defence system and a permanent 5,500-soldier NATO battalion. Bucharest has significantly improved its military apparatus and has held an important strategic position since the beginning of the war. This favourable position has given the European country the right to make demands. The challenge is also a form of payback for Romania, which has never forgiven Rutte for his staunch opposition to the country's accession to the Schengen Area.

Romania is not the only country standing in Rutte's way. Some Eastern European countries have expressed their dissatisfaction with yet another Western candidate, which, if chosen, would be the fourth from the Netherlands. Among these are Hungary, Estonia, and Turkey, which could make life difficult for Rutte and support Iohannis. Hungary's Viktor Orban, who has close ties with Russia, may view a candidacy from the Alliance's "Eastern flank" favourably. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas had expressed interest in the Secretary General position, but she never truly entered the race due to her country's geographical position at the border with Russia. Western countries feared that Vladimir Putin might perceive her candidacy as an aggressive move. Nato now counts 32 members, after Sweden recently joined the military alliance.

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Romania bids for NATO leadership against Rutte

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