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Hungary refuses to back Dutch PM for NATO chief

Hungary new president Tamas Sulyok
Source: Pixabay

Hungary’s foreign minister on Tuesday said the country would not support Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to become the next NATO secretary general.

Rutte is largely believed to be the frontrunner to lead the alliance and replace current NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, after the United States, Britain and Germany expressed support for his potential candidacy.

Hungary, however, would not support Rutte, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters when asked, saying Budapest’s backing would be “bizarre”.

“We definitely cannot support the election of a person to the position of NATO secretary general who previously wanted to force Hungary to its knees,” he said.

In 2021, Rutte said Hungary should not be part of the EU after the central European country passed a law banning the promotion of LGBTQ content to minors.

For the past two years, the NATO alliance has navigated a challenging security enviroment in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A successor for Stoltenberg — the former Norwegian prime minister who has overseen NATO for a decade — is expected to be announced before a July summit in Washington.

No decision is confirmed until consensus is reached on one candidate, according to NATO rules.

Rutte, 57, is currently serving as prime minister in a transitional capacity after the party of far-right leader Geert Wilders won the most seats in the Netherland’s general election last November, but has yet been able to form a government.

Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban hailed “winds of change” after Wilders’ win.

Orban’s government last month became the last to approve Sweden’s bid to join NATO, ending more than a year of delays that frustrated other alliance members.

Hungary is also the only EU member state that has maintained close ties with the Kremlin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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