Hungary opposes Mark Rutte's candidacy for NATO Secretary General

Hungarian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó
Hungarian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó

The Hungarian government opposes Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s candidacy for NATO Secretary General, citing his alleged past comments about bringing Hungary “to its knees,” Foreign Affairs Minister Péter Szijjártó said on May 27, Magyarnemzet reported.

“It is very difficult to imagine that someone who holds and supports such a position could be elected as the head of an organization where 100 percent trust is required,” Szijjártó stated.

“We have to be able to die for each other here, and it should be led by someone we can trust 100 percent.”

Read also: Netherlands PM Rutte likely to become NATO Secretary General by summer

Simultaneously, Szijjártó endorsed Romanian President Klaus Iohannis for the position.

While there is much discussion about strengthening NATO's eastern flank, “nobody seems to consider that if the threat comes from the east, perhaps the Secretary General should also be from the east,” he said.

Szijjártó also mentioned having a contentious debate earlier that day with his Lithuanian counterpart, Gabrielius Landsbergis, in Brussels, labeling him “one of the most pro-war” politicians among EU foreign ministers.

Read also: Biden throws weight behind Dutch premier Rutte to lead NATO – Politico

“No matter how much they shout at me or act aggressively, I remain a peacemaker…” Szijjártó added.

“We Hungarians advocate for peace and do not support any measures that would increase the risk of war escalation.”

“We want peace as soon as possible because only peace can save lives.”

Read also: Rutte's NATO ambitions challenged by Hungary over LGBT rights dispute

Hungary should not be part of the EU due to the enactment of a new law banning the discussion of LGBT topics in schools, Rutte said in June 2021, noting that the “long-term goal is to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue.”

NATO Secretary General elections

Klaus Iohannis announced his candidacy for NATO Secretary General on March 12.

Rutte was the front-runner for the position, expressing his interest in late October, Politico reported in early November 2023.

Latvian Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas have also announced their candidacies for the NATO Secretary General position.

The term of the current NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, ends in October.

Stoltenberg was initially set to conclude his tenure at the end of September 2023, but due to a lack of consensus on his successor, NATO members requested he extends his contract.

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