Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, has opposed the candidacy of the outgoing Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, to take over as NATO General Secretary in October, citing Budapest’s lack of trust in him and the need for NATO to focus on the eastern flank.

Rutte, a pro-EU politician, is widely regarded as the favorite among most NATO member states and whose candidacy has already been endorsed by the US, UK, France and Germany, among others.

Szijjártó cited Rutte’s 2021 comment to “bring Hungary to its knees” in response to Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws as the reason for Budapest’s opposition.

“It is very difficult to imagine that a person who formulates and maintains such a position will be elected to the head of an organization where 100 percent trust is of fundamental importance.


“Here you even have to die for each other, it must be led by a person in whom we can trust 100 percent,” Szijjártó said during a press conference, as reported by Hungarian news outlet Magyar Nemzat.

He added that if the threat comes from the bloc’s eastern flank, the post should be held by someone from the region and voiced his country’s support for Romanian President Klaus Iohannis instead.

However, Szijjártó also emphasized that Budapest – which has maintained a friendly relationship with Russia and China – is “pro-peace,” and reiterated the country’s rhetoric that peace should be achieved “as soon as possible” presumably in reference to the war in Ukraine.

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“We Hungarians are pro-peace, and we do not support any measure that would increase the risk of war escalation even more. We want peace as soon as possible, because only peace can save human lives,” he said.

At present, Rutte’s candidacy has received support from more than 20 out of 32 NATO members, including Turkey, which voiced its support at the end of April.


Since the post is appointed by consensus, Rutte would still need to secure support from all member states, including Hungary and Slovakia, which many consider to be Kremlin-friendly.

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