NATO member state opposes Dutch PM’s bid to lead bloc

Aprilia Rine

NATO member state opposes Dutch PM’s bid to lead bloc

Mark Rutte once said Hungary should be out of the EU or down on its knees over gay rights

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will not have Budapest’s backing in his bid to become the next secretary general of NATO, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday. The Nordic politician is considered the frontrunner for the job.

Rutte has the endorsement of several heavyweights in the military alliance, including France, Germany, the UK, and the US. But the Hungarian government opposes the candidacy due to his vocal criticism of their country in the past.

”We certainly can’t support the election of a man to the position of NATO’s secretary general, who previously wanted to force Hungary on its knees,” Szijjarto said.

He was referring to remarks made by Rutte in 2021, after Hungary passed a law that prohibited the exposure of LGBT-themed content to minors.

The Dutch prime minister had argued that this was incompatible with EU values, saying Hungary had “no business being in the European Union any more.” Brussels’ goal should be “to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue,” he added, speaking ahead of an EU leaders’ summit.

While roughly two-thirds of alliance member states support Rutte’s bid, the secretary general has to be appointed by a unanimous vote. Budapest has demonstrated its willingness to leverage its voting rights in NATO by withholding the ratification of Sweden’s bid to join the transatlantic bloc for almost two years. President Tamas Sulyok signed the bill approving the accession on Tuesday.

The Dutch prime minister is serving his fourth term. Rutte announced his decision to depart from national politics last July. He currently holds office in a caretaker capacity, as MPs elected in November’s election have struggled to form a new government.

READ MORE: German chancellor ‘doesn’t look like a leader’ – ex-NATO chief

Jens Stoltenberg is set to step down as NATO secretary general in October after a decade in the position. His successor is expected to be chosen in July, during a leaders’ summit in Washington.

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