NATO Goes Dutch and Appoints Safe Foreign Minister as Secretary General
Castle, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)
NATO OPTED for a safe pair of hands yesterday when it handed Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Dutch Foreign Minister, the alliance's top job.
Mr de Hoop Scheffer, who replaces Lord Robertson of Port Ellen as Nato secretary general, has a mandate to mend relations between Europe and America. He is seen as a bridge builder who combines pro- American credentials with diplomatic experience in the EU.
The appointment was rubber-stamped by Nato ambassadors yesterday when it became clear that the only other candidate, John Manley, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister, had not won enough backing. The decision ends a difficult search for a successor to Lord Robertson who, during his four- year term of office, had to deal with international crises including the deep Nato split over the war in Iraq.
The divisions over Iraq put a new onus on finding a candidate thought capable of managing the divisions between the US and several of its European allies. Mr de Hoop Scheffer has impressed colleagues this year with his chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. …