Hungary Lifts Blockade Against NATO Secretary General

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.19 - 2024 11:51 AM CET

Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /
Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /
Mark Rutte's path to becoming the next NATO Secretary General is now clear.

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After months of blocking, Hungary has abandoned its opposition to the appointment of outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the next NATO Secretary General.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced the decision on Tuesday, following a letter from Rutte addressing Hungary's concerns.

Orbán cited Rutte's letter as the reason for the change of heart.

As reported by Der Spiegel, Hungary wanted assurances that it wouldn't be pressured into joining a planned NATO mission to coordinate arms deliveries to Ukraine, fearing it could lead to direct confrontation with Russia.

With these concerns addressed, Hungary has now lifted its blockade.

Remaining Hurdles

The only remaining obstacle is the candidacy of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

According to alliance sources, Iohannis no longer has support and is expected to withdraw his application soon.

In addition to Hungary, Slovakia, initially one of the critical NATO states, has also signaled support for Rutte. Slovakian President Peter Pellegrini indicated on Tuesday that Slovakia would back Rutte's appointment.

Transition and Support

Current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's contract expires on October 1.

Stoltenberg, who has served for nearly a decade, is the second-longest-serving Secretary General in NATO's history.

He announced his intention to step down multiple times, but member states previously failed to agree on a successor.

Stoltenberg stated in Washington on Tuesday that it was clear a deal was imminent, calling Rutte a strong candidate. He expressed confidence that the alliance would decide on the successor soon.

For a new Secretary General to be appointed, consensus among the 32 NATO member states is required, meaning no objections can be raised. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz publicly backed Rutte in February, with additional support coming from the USA and Great Britain.