Hungary gives indirect support to Romanian president’s NATO bid

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
By John Cody
2 Min Read

Hungary appears to be supporting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis’ bid to become the next leader of NATO, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó hinted on Wednesday.

Speaking in Brussels following the first day of a meeting between the defense alliance’s foreign ministers, Szijjártó said, “Never before in NATO’s history has a Central or Eastern European member state given a Secretary General, so it is high time, especially given that the main security challenge is currently coming from this direction.”

The Hungarian minister did not name Iohannis, but others were quick to draw conclusions given Iohannis is the frontrunner from the region after announcing his candidacy two months ago.

“Hungary has always supported the strengthening of the eastern wing of NATO and hopefully this direction will also be reflected in the next secretary general,” Szijjártó told press.

On the fact that a significant number of member states clearly support outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for the post, Szijjártó added, “We, on the Hungarian side, cannot place our trust, not only at the highest level but at any level, in a man who has previously talked about bringing Hungary to its knees. I think that is understandable for everyone.”

He said there are still some member states that are hesitant, and the candidacy of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has created a new situation in this respect.

“We are happy that there is a candidate from Central Europe and, again, we think it is time to have a serious discussion on how it is that NATO has never had a secretary general from the Central and Eastern European region,” he added.

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