Romanian president announces bid for NATO leadership

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, left, shakes hands with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis after a media statement in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced over the weekend his intent to run for the position of secretary-general of NATO, throwing a wrench into the works of other NATO members hoping the current Dutch PM would get the job.

The announcement was first reported by Jennifer Jacobs, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News.

“Romania has notified other NATO members that it intends to nominate the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, as its candidate for NATO secretary general. It will complicate the other allies’ effort to install Mark Rutte as the next secretary general,” the U.S. journalist reported on X.

Until Iohanis announced his candidacy, it was largely assumed that the acting Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, was a shoo-in for the position.

NATO declined to comment on the Bloomberg report, but in a response to, NATO’s press office directed journalists to seek comment from Romanian authorities.

“We direct you to the Romanian authorities for any comment they may have,” said Daniele Riggio, press officer at NATO’s public diplomacy office.

The mandate of the current secretary-general, who is former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, expires on Oct. 1, after two consecutive terms and two one-year extensions due to the war in Ukraine.

Although Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has also thrown in her hat last November for the position, her campaign so far has been mostly restricted to social media.

The election of the NATO leader must be unanimous, and so far, the practice has been that the selection process was a bargaining point among member states behind closed doors without open rivalry. Until Iohannis’ announcement, press reports said Rutte had the support of most member states.

Although Stoltenberg’s mandate only expires in October, NATO is keen on having a new secretary-general before June’s European Parliament elections.

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