Will NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg stay in office after all?

As of: 06/15/2023 7:02 PM

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg wanted to resign in September after nine years. But the question of succession was not resolved at all. Therefore, Defense Secretary Pistorius called for an extension of the contract.

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius spoke in favor of extending the mandate of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. If the alliance cannot agree on a successor, the Social Democratic Party politician said at the start of a NATO meeting in Brussels, he “of course supports the extension, especially since I value the cooperation.” Pistorius is the first senior coalition politician to publicly support the Norwegian.

Stoltenberg wanted to stop in September after nine years. But for that to happen, the 31 member states would have to agree on a successor to the NATO summit in Vilnius in early July — and so far there is no sign of such an agreement.

Stoltenberg did not want to interfere

Stoltenberg himself does not want to get involved in the difficult search for a successor. The decision in this regard rests with the Member States. The 64-year-old left it open as to whether he would stay longer than planned even if the Allies made an offer to that effect, stressing only that he was not seeking a contract extension.

As reported by Swedish Radio, US President Joe Biden has already asked Stoltenberg to continue in office. However, this has not been officially confirmed. At the NATO meeting in Brussels, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin explicitly thanked Stoltenberg for the work he had done: “Thank you for your leadership,” said Austin. “It is truly amazing leadership that you are showing here. We are grateful for your service to NATO and for the sacrifices you make.”

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Stoltenberg’s mandate was extended three times

Stoltenberg’s contract as NATO Secretary General has been extended for another year, until September 30, 2023 in March 2022, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Indeed, the former head of the Norwegian government had already wanted to stop last year and return to his homeland. Stoltenberg’s mandate has already been extended three times.

A European diplomat confirmed to AFP that Stoltenberg loomed for another extension at the Lithuania summit on July 11-12. According to her, the heads of state and government are likely to ask Stoltenberg to remain in office until the NATO anniversary summit in Washington in the summer of 2024. There, Allianz celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Frederiksen Wallace as alternatives?

Recently, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and British Defense Minister Ben Wallace have been considered as possible candidates to succeed Stoltenberg. However, both are not without controversy among the member states. The argument against Wallace in EU countries is that he was never a head of state or government and does not come from an EU country. Frederiksen’s opponents point out, among other things, that an important NATO position should not be filled again by someone from a Northern Alliance country.

Frederiksen herself said she would “absolutely” support an extension of Stoltenberg’s term. Stoltenberg was simply privileged to be at the helm of NATO for many years. If she can get him to continue, she thinks it’s “a really good solution”. When asked if she would be interested in the job, she replied that she was happy as Prime Minister of Denmark. “No, I’m not on my way to NATO.”

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With information from Stephan Ueberbach and Helga Schmidt, ARD Studio in Brussels


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