The first time his term was extended was in October 2022 until September 30, 2023, due to the Ukraine crisis.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s term of office has been extended for the second time since last year due to his contribution in facilitating Sweden’s accession into the alliance as well as his role in guiding NATO’s response in the Ukraine conflict, Sputnik reported on Wednesday citing sources close to the matter.
The first time his term was extended was in October 2022 until September 30, 2023, due to the Ukraine crisis. Earlier this month, NATO extended his term for a second time until 2024.
This makes him the second-longest NATO Secretary General after former Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns who held the post from 1971 to 1984.
“First of all, negotiations are still ongoing on finalizing the ratification process for Sweden, and this is an issue to which Jens Stoltenberg has put a lot of effort, so the allies agreed that it would be the best for the alliance to extend his mandate so he can fulfill this task. Also, it is important for the alliance to support Ukraine as much as possible, and Jens Stoltenberg has shown great leadership and effort towards this direction, so the allies decided that it is better not to replace him, as the situation in Ukraine is ongoing, and negotiations on finalizing Swedish ratification are also ongoing,” the source said, adding there were two female runners-up for the position.
“It was Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia, and Mette Frederiksen, the prime minister of Denmark, with Frederiksen being the most prominent candidate of the two. However, this didn’t proceed,” they said.
Answering whether European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would be considered for the position again in 2024, the source said: “What I can say is that she is regarded as a very effective and successful European Commission president and she also has firsthand knowledge of the defense and geopolitical issues, as she was for a number of years the minister of defense of Germany. But it is up to the allies to decide and it’s still very early and unreasonable to speculate on this topic.”
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year, citing changes in the European security picture because of the Ukraine crisis. As Finland went on to become a member, Turkey, and Hungary stymied Sweden’s bid, with Budapest citing grievances over Stockholm’s criticism of Hungary’s prime minister and Ankara accusing Sweden of harboring what it considers Kurdish terrorists and, most recently, meddling in Turkish elections.
Erdogan stated that mere changes in Swedish law regarding terrorism are insufficient for Ankara to approve its NATO bid.
Back in May, shortly after Erdogan’s reelection, Stoltenberg said it was “absolutely possible” to decide on Sweden’s NATO membership before the alliance’s summit that was set for 11-12 July 2023, in Vilnius.
On July 10, Stoltenberg said that Sweden has agreed to assist Turkey with the process of becoming an EU member state and help with visa liberalization after Ankara said it will transmit Sweden’s NATO membership bid to the Parliament.
As of now, no details have been divulged regarding the ratification deadline.