HomeWorldTurkey says it backs outgoing Dutch prime minister Rutte's candidacy for NATO...

Turkey says it backs outgoing Dutch prime minister Rutte’s candidacy for NATO chief

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has told its NATO allies that Ankara will back the Netherlands’ outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s candidacy for the military alliance’s secretary general position, a senior Turkish official said Monday.

The official said Turkey notified NATO allies’ diplomats in Brussels on Monday. The decision comes three days after Rutte traveled to Turkey to seek support from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his bid. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish government protocol.

Incumbent NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister who has been NATO’s top civilian official since 2014, is nearing the end of his term. His mandate had been extended several times as the alliance sought to keep a steady hand at the helm after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

NATO members Turkey and Hungary had earlier expressed reservations about Rutte’s candidacy, and Erdogan made no commitments during a joint news conference with Rutte on Friday.

NATO officials and envoys want the nomination for Stoltenberg’s successor wrapped up by the end of April, before competition for top European Union jobs begins in earnest around the June 6-9 elections.

They are keen to avoid having the potentially divisive issue mar the alliance’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington in July.

NATO secretaries-general are responsible for chairing meetings and guiding sometimes delicate consultations among member countries to ensure that an organization that operates on consensus can continue to function. They also ensure that decisions are put into action and speak on behalf of all members.

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