Rutte set to take over as Nato Secretary General

On Thursday Romania became the last Nato member state after Hungary and Slovakia to announce its support for Mark Rutte's election as the alliance's new Secretary General. The Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was also in the running to succeed Jens Stoltenberg, who is stepping down after ten years in office. Europe's press is confident that Dutch Prime Minister Rutte is the right man for the job.

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De Telegraaf (NL) /

A master of compromises and coalitions

Rutte is the doer that Nato needs, De Telegraaf concludes:

“A Nato secretary general has to constantly involve all sides in the search for a solution in order to achieve compromise between the member states. That's child's play for Rutte. ... Rutte is effective at forging coalitions far beyond the borders in order to get things done. In the EU, for example, he played a key role in securing the migration deals with Turkey and Tunisia. And in the last few years he has forged coalitions for the delivery of F-16 jets and air defence guns to Ukraine.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

A windfall for the alliance

Rutte has the right qualities for a job that won't be easy, the Kleine Zeitung agrees:

“In addition to the ongoing challenge of the war in Ukraine, Rutte may face a major hurdle as early as November. If Donald Trump wins the election he won't just try to shift the burden of supporting Ukraine onto the shoulders of the Europeans, but will also keep attacking the principles of Nato itself. Rutte, however, could prove to be a windfall for the alliance. The man who has been dubbed Teflon Mark is not only seen as an agile negotiator but also as a Trump whisperer who already managed to prevent the worst mischief when the latter was US president.”

Denník Postoj (SK) /

All communication channels to remain open

Denník Postoj takes a look behind the scenes:

“He was given the green light back in the spring and his nomination was approved by the Big Four, i.e. the US, the UK, France and Germany. According to the Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, these countries didn't want to back Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, for example, for fear of her overly principled stance towards Russia. The main reason is to maintain open channels of communication not only with Putin, but also with Trump. Mark Rutte is ideally suited for this task.”

La Stampa (IT) /

A skilled negotiator

La Stampa looks ahead:

“Mr No, who was intransigent during the negotiations at the EU table, will now have to transform himself into the great mediator capable of building a bridge between Europe and the US. The king of the 'frugals', always ready to chastise the 'spendthrifts' in the south, will soon have to fly to Rome to persuade the Italian government to spend more on defence. ... Rutte cleared the highest hurdle after a personal meeting with Viktor Orbán. ... Orbán received a written commitment in which the future Nato secretary general had to recognise Budapest's 'valuable contribution' to the Atlantic Alliance. This letter is an example of what a skilful negotiator Rutte is - capable of doing anything to get the desired result.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

He has learned his lesson

Anna Słojewska, Brussels correspondent for Rzeczpospolita, defends Rutte from accusations that he is pro-Russian:

“Yes, it's true that Mark Rutte has said in the past that Putin is someone you can do business with. I don't praise him for that, it's embarrassing. But he wasn't the only one in the West who was wrong about Putin. He didn't have the same experience as us Eastern Europeans. But after the downing in 2014 of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with a large number of Dutch tourists on board he lost all illusions. And later he built up a coalition of F-16 suppliers for Ukraine, to a certain extent even going against the US.”

Deutsche Welle (RO) /

What's behind the Romanian farce?

Iohannis's now withdrawn candidacy raises many questions, comments Deutsche Welle's Romanian service:

“Was Klaus Iohannis's whole candidacy for the post of Nato secretary general just a chess game of the domestic diplomatic and intelligence system through which Romania was supposed to gain something? Was it a manoeuvre whereby the president would secure a key EU post in exchange for going along with this ridiculous game? Or was the president deliberately set up to fail? And above all, who is responsible for this game which has conveyed the impression that Nato did not speak with one voice here?”