Orbán supports Rutte’s bid to head NATO despite his previous attacks against Hungary

Hungary's condition for supporting the Dutch PM is to be left out of the war in Ukraine

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shakes hands with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, from left, at the start of the EU Africa Forum in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

Hungary is ready to support the candidacy of outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for the post of NATO secretary general, in light of Rutte’s pledge to fully support the agreement that no Hungarian personnel will participate in NATO’s activities in Ukraine and that no Hungarian funds will be used to support them, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote on social media platform X.

In his message, the Hungarian prime minister recalled that an important agreement had been reached with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following last week’s European Parliament elections, in which the majority of Hungarians voted for peace.

“After yesterday’s meeting in Brussels, Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed that he fully supports this deal and will continue to do so, should he become the next secretary general of NATO. In light of his pledge, Hungary is ready to support PM Rutte’s bid for NATO Secretary General,” Orbán wrote.

Mark Rutte also assured the Hungarian prime minister that his goal as NATO secretary general will be to treat all allies with the same level of understanding and respect. Rutte’s letter to Viktor Orbán on Tuesday is also available on X.

Originally, there were doubts Orbán would support Rutte, due to Rutte’s belligerence towards Hungary in the past.

In 2020, as top officials from the European Union met in Brussels in an attempt to agree on an economic recovery package for member states in the wake of the first wave of COVID-19, the Dutch prime minister held up negotiations by insisting for some time that EU funds be tied to a new “rule-of-law” mechanism, Remix News reported.

“I don’t know what’s the personal reason for the Dutch prime minister to hate me or Hungary, but he is attacking us so harshly and making very clear that because Hungary, in his opinion, does not respect the rule, it must be punished financially. That’s his position. Which is not acceptable, because there is no decision about what is the rule of law situation in Hungary,” said Orbán at the time.

During a Dutch parliamentary session, Rutte pledged in 2020 that the new rule-of-law conditions would not be watered down under any circumstance. The Dutch prime minister claimed that the compromise deal was already the “lower limit,” and accused Orbán of limiting LGBT rights, freedom of the press, and the rights of smaller parties to participate in elections.

Slovakia also backs Rutte

Slovakia will also support the candidacy of outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for the post of NATO secretary general, Slovak President Peter Pellegrini was quoted as saying by the Slovak public news agency TASR on Tuesday. The Slovak president delivered this statement to Slovak journalists in Brussels after a meeting of EU heads of state and government.

There are two known candidates for the post of NATO secretary general so far, the Dutch prime minister and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Following discussions with the two candidates and talks with Prime Minister Robert Fico, Slovakia considers Rutte to be the candidate it will support, said Pellegrini.

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