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On 26 June 2024 the North Atlantic Council decided to appoint Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the next secretary general of NATO, succeeding Jens Stoltenberg. Ambassadors from the alliance’s 32 members took the decision at a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Rutte will assume his functions as secretary general from 1 October 2024, when Stoltenberg’s term expires after 10 years at the helm of the alliance.

The appointment became a formality after his only rival for the post, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, announced the previous week that he had withdrawn his candidacy, having failed to gain traction.

Rutte, a staunch ally of Ukraine and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, takes the helm of NATO at a challenging time. As well as dealing with the alliance’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO also faces the possibility of a second tumultuous period with Donald Trump as the US president. If Trump is elected president in November, then military support for Ukraine is likely to fall much more heavily on NATO’s European members

As well as being the longest-serving Dutch prime minister after a 14-year tenure, Rutte is known for cycling to work (he left the prime minister’s residence on 2 July, his last day in office, riding a bike), also taught sociology on Thursday mornings at the Johan de Witt College: a secondary school in The Hague.

Stoltenberg said of his successor, “Mark is a true trans-Atlanticist, a strong leader, and a consensus-builder. I wish him every success as we continue to strengthen NATO for the challenges of today and tomorrow. I know I am leaving NATO in good hands.”

Former Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte shakes hands with the current NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. Rutte will succeed Stoltenberg as the NATO chief in October 2024. (Photo: NATO)