Stoltenberg: from NATO opponent to alliance chief


Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is to remain at the helm of the NATO alliance for a further two years, extending his term until late 2020.

The Scandinavian has led the organisation since he took over as Secretary-General in October of 2014 for an initial four-year term.

A brief statement issued on Tuesday confirmed the decision had been reached by the allies to extend his term, emphasising the “full confidence” held in Stoltenberg and the importance of his role in leading NATO’s adaption to the new security challenges of the 21st century.

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was quick to praise Stoltenberg’s extension, taking the opportunity to again highlight Britain’s status as one of the few members meeting the 2% of GDP commitment to defence. Britain’s leading role in NATO will be strengthened in the new year as Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach assumes the position as Chairman of the Military Committee, the most senior military position in the organisation which rotates amongst the member states.

Confirming German support for the move, defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen said Mr Stoltenberg had “done excellent work modernising NATO and adapting its structures to a changed security solution”.

Not all feedback to the reappointment has been positive. Russia Today described his tenure as “gaffe riddled” highlighting recent controversies including a botched exercise in Norway which accidentally marked NATO member, and its President Recep Erdogan, as enemies.

Stoltenberg leads NATO in difficult times; renewed Russian aggression has put the alliance alert, while its entire existence remains jeopardised by increasing moves for European defence cooperation through the EU including the recently signed PESCO defence pact.

(Nadarajah Sethurupan)

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