The term of NATO chief Stoltenberg has been extended until 2024
The term of NATO chief Stoltenberg has been extended until 2024

Brussels: After struggling to find a replacement in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine, NATO members on Tuesday decided to extend the contract of alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg for another year.

The declaration comes one week before a NATO summit in Lithuania, where the Western military alliance's response to the conflict and Ukraine's bid for membership will take centre stage.

The decision by NATO allies to extend Stoltenberg's tenure as secretary general until October 1, 2024, left the 64-year-old with a sense of honour. "Our alliance is more crucial than ever in a world that is more dangerous."

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After failing to reach an obvious consensus, NATO's 31 member states decided to extend the term of the former Norwegian prime minister, who has led the alliance since 2014.

Former contenders for the position of NATO secretary general, such as British Defence Minister Ben Wallace and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, recently withdrew from consideration.

As a potential first female leader and a member of the European Union, Frederiksen seemed to fit the criteria of some European allies.

To emphasise a tougher stance against Russia, however, NATO countries on the alliance's eastern flank pushed for someone from their region to take the helm.
Wallace, a British candidate, was put forward, but many NATO allies wanted a former head of state or government in charge, and France insisted on someone from an EU nation.

Nearly a year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Stoltenberg's term was already extended, and he has the full support of the US and other significant allies.
Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, welcomed the most recent extension and praised Stoltenberg for his "strong leadership" during trying times.

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The NATO secretary general has received praise for his level-headed management of the alliance during a time when the continent of Europe is being rocked by the largest armed conflict since World War II.
This has required upholding steadfast support for Kyiv while also ensuring that the conflict does not escalate into a possible nuclear exchange between NATO and Russia.

In order to bridge the gap between Ukraine's demand to join NATO and the unwillingness of the dominant power, the United States, to provide a clear timeline for that process, Stoltenberg will have to walk a fine line again at the summit in Vilnius.

As the alliance undergoes its most significant reorganisation in a generation in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, leaders will give their approval to new defence plans and spending objectives.

The head of NATO will also attempt to persuade Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to drop his opposition to Sweden's application for membership.
Stoltenberg had emphasised time and time again that he was not actively attempting to extend his tenure as NATO's top executive.

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He did, however, leave the door open for the allies to request that he stay. By virtue of the extension, Stoltenberg will continue in charge until a summit in Washington in July 2024 that will commemorate the 75th anniversary of NATO's founding.

Some nations were hesitant to give him a one-year extension out of concern that selecting his successor would become entangled with the competition for top EU positions following the European elections in June.

Concerns have also been raised that the search for a replacement may be hampered by the lead-up to the US elections in November 2024.


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