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Rutte endorsed by Orban as next NATO Secretary General after agreeing to Hungary's opt-out of Ukraine support

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 18, 2024 6:49 PM 2 min read
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban talks with Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte on January 5, 2024. (Stephanie Lecocq/AFP via Getty Images)
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Hungarian Prime Minister endorsed Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's bid to be the next Secretary General of NATO, after Rutte said he supported Budapest opting out of NATO initiatives to support Ukraine, Orban announced on June 18.

Incumbent NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Hungary on June 12 for talks with Orban amid fears Budapest could derail future plans of support for Kyiv, having repeatedly obstructed assistance to Ukraine.

Orban told Stoltenberg that Hungary will not take part in any of the initiatives in support of Ukraine, but will not block them either. Stoltenberg said he accepted Hungary's position.

"Our next step this week was to ensure that this agreement can stand the test of time," Orban said on X on June 18.

Orban said that "after yesterday's meeting in Brussels, Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed that he fully supports this deal and will continue to do so, should he become the next Secretary General of NATO."

"In light of his pledge, Hungary is ready to support PM Rutte’s bid for NATO Secretary-General."

According to the Financial Times, Rutte and Orban met on the sidelines of an EU leaders' dinner in Brussels on June 17.

Twenty-nine NATO members have already backed Rutte as Stoltenberg's successor, with Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania long being the remaining holdouts.

Slovak President Peter Pellegrini also publicly backed Rutte's candidacy on June 18.

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