Hungary 'Ready To Support' Dutch PM Mark Rutte For NATO Chief: Orban


(MENAFN- IANS) Brussels, June 19 (IANS/DPA) Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that he is willing to endorse Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's bid to become the next Secretary General of NATO.

"Hungary is ready to support PM Rutte's bid for NATO Secretary General," Orbán said on Tuesday on X, alongside a copy of a letter from Rutte promising to respect an agreement between Orban and the current Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, that Hungary will not be required to contribute to Ukraine's war effort.

Rutte needs the unanimous support of all 32 NATO countries to succeed Stoltenberg, but Orban has so far withheld Hungary's support.

Rutte's letter, dated Tuesday, notes that remarks he made in 2021 "have caused dissatisfaction in Hungary. My priority in a possible future capacity as NATO Secretary General will be to maintain unity and treat all Allies with the same level of understanding and respect".

EU leaders have accused Orban's government of undermining the rule of law in Hungary, and European Union courts have also ruled against Budapest.

Rutte and Orban met on Monday ahead of a dinner for EU leaders in Brussels, after which Rutte told reporters that he would soon be sending a letter to Orban.

Rutte told members of the press that the Hungarian premier had not asked him to apologise and that they were focused on the "future".

Slovakia's new President, Peter Pellegrini, also said on Monday that his country would back Rutte, Slovakian national news agency TASR reported.

In Washington on Tuesday, Stoltenberg said: "Normally, I don't say anything about my successor, because it's not for me to select my successor. But with the announcement by President or, sorry, Prime Minister Orban today, I think it's obvious that we are very close to a conclusion in the Alliance, for Allies to select the next Secretary General. And I think that's good news."

"I think Mark Rutte is a very strong candidate. He has a lot of experience as Prime Minister. He's a close friend and colleague, and I therefore strongly believe that very soon the Alliance will have decided on my successor, and that will be good for all of us, for NATO and also for me," he added.

However, Rutte still needs to win the support of Romania, where President Klaus Iohannis has put his name forward to be the next NATO Chief.

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IANS

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