Former Norwegian prime minister is new secretary general of Nato

Jens Stoltenberg assumes role in October

Following weeks of speculation, NATO confirmed this afternoon that 55-year-old Jens Stoltenberg will assume the role of head of the defence organisation in October. Photograph: Reuters.

Following weeks of speculation, NATO confirmed this afternoon that 55-year-old Jens Stoltenberg will assume the role of head of the defence organisation in October. Photograph: Reuters.

Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 15:59

Suzanne Lynch, European Correspondent in Brussels

Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg has been named as the new secretary general of Nato, replacing the outgoing Danish head, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Following weeks of speculation, Nato, which is headquartered in Brussels, confirmed this afternoon that the 55-year-old will assume the role of head of the defence organisation in October.

Mr Stoltenberg, who was prime minister of Norway before losing his bid for a third-term in office last October, received the backing of Nato heavyweights, the US, Germany, and France, with British prime minister David Cameron publicly backed his candidature earlier this week.

Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sidorski, who has been increasingly making his mark on European foreign affairs, had been in the running but appeared to withdraw his candidature yesterday evening, tweeting that Mr Stoltenberg “will indeed by a good Nato Secretary General”.

The announcement of the new Nato secretary general is the first in a series of appointments that will be made in the coming months as the current tenure of the European Commission and European Parliament comes to an end. The positions of European Commission and European Council presidents, and head of the EU’s foreign affairs wing, the European External Action Services (EEAS) will all be vacant following the European elections in May.

While Norway is not a member of the European Union, it has been a Nato member since the organisation’s foundation in 1949. The outgoing secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is also an ex-prime minister of a Nordic country.

Mr Stoltenberg takes over at a potentially pivotal time in the organisation’s 65-year history. Forged in the shadow of the second World War, the organisation has in recent years become involved in “out of area” engagements in areas like Libya and Afghanistan.

However the current conflict in Ukraine has place a renewed emphasis on the organisation’s Cold War roots, possibly giving the organisation a new focus as it begins to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.