News / Europe

Norway's Stoltenberg Named Next NATO Chief

Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg addresses the media in Oslo, after NATO ambassadors chose him to be the next head, March 28, 2014.
Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg addresses the media in Oslo, after NATO ambassadors chose him to be the next head, March 28, 2014.
Reuters
NATO chose former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as its next leader on Friday at a time when the Western military alliance must deal with a resurgent Russia following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.
 
Stoltenberg will take over as secretary-general of the 28-nation grouping on Oct. 1, succeeding former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has led NATO since 2009.
 
Stoltenberg, the first Norwegian to occupy NATO's top post, will take over at a time when NATO, seen by some as a Cold War relic, has gained new relevance because of concerns about what the Ukraine crisis says about a newly assertive Russia.
 
“Stoltenberg's Norway is seen as a very serious defense player and has always taken the challenge of Russia very, very seriously. I think there is a little bit of a signal there,” said Daniel Keohane, a defense expert at the FRIDE thinktank.
 
Stoltenberg will take over at a turning point in NATO's history.
 
The urgency of the Ukraine crisis means that the alliance, which is due to end combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of this year, is likely to refocus back onto its core task of defending its member countries.
 
NATO foreign ministers are expected to discuss next week in Brussels how they can reinforce the alliance's military presence in eastern European countries such as the Baltics and Poland, which are nervous that they are vulnerable.
 
Challenge
 
Stoltenberg will also face a challenge in trying to persuade European countries to reverse, or at least end, sharp cuts in defense spending that many of them have adopted in response to the financial crisis.
 
Stoltenberg, who served for nearly 10 years as Norway's prime minister before losing elections last September, was backed by the United States, NATO's dominant power, and Germany. British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that he also backed Stoltenberg.
 
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, regarded as another potential candidate for NATO leader, said on Twitter on Thursday that Stoltenberg would be “a good NATO secretary-general. Poland will support him.”
 
Others in the frame to succeed Rasmussen were Belgian Defense Minister Pieter de Crem and former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini.
 
Stoltenberg is considered a skilful economic operator who got Norway through the global financial crisis relatively unharmed as the government used its massive stored oil wealth to boost spending, create demand and keep unemployment low.
 
His governments backed NATO's military campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya. During his time as prime minister, the country also began to place orders for Joint Strike Fighter aircraft from U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp to replace an aging fleet of F-16s.
 
Stoltenberg was Norway's prime minister when far right militant Anders Behring Breivik went on a bombing and shooting spree in 2011 that killed 77 people.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs