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Türkiye to back Mark Rutte as next NATO chief

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Türkiye has decided to back the candidacy of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the next secretary-general of NATO, Turkish officials said.

Ankara told NATO it will support Rutte after the Dutch premier met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul last Friday, officials said.

“NATO’s southern wing needs Türkiye and its leadership,” Rutte told a joint news conference with Erdoğan after their meeting.

“Türkiye is a geopolitical actor with significant influence in the region. They’re working to help end the war in Gaza. They’re also making effort regarding the horrible war in Ukraine,” Rutte had remarked.

Erdoğan for his part had assured Türkiye’s decision would be within “the framework of strategic wisdom and fairness” regarding the new NATO chief.

Ankara expects the new head of the military bloc to “serve the needs and interests of allies” regarding counterterrorism and to take account of the “sensitivities of non-European Union member allies.”

For Türkiye, counterterrorism largely includes the fight against the PKK and its offshoots, a terrorist group that has led a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s, claiming more than 40,000 lives. It is recognized as a terrorist group in Türkiye, the United States and the European Union.

Ankara often condemns “relations” between the terrorist group and certain NATO members as “unacceptable,” “a threat against member states” as well as “against the spirit of alliance.”

It refused to ratify the membership bids of Sweden and Finland for more than a year until the Nordic nations met Turkish demands like tightened measures against terrorist groups.

Rutte is now seeking to replace Jens Stoltenberg as secretary-general of the 31-nation Western military alliance.

But he needs the support of every NATO member state to get the job and Hungary expressed opposition to his bid. There are currently no other publicly declared candidates.

Rutte has strong backing from Britain, Germany and the U.S.

Source: Daily Sabah

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