NATO prolongs chief Stoltenberg's term for 2 more years

AP News
Posted: Dec 12, 2017 9:45 AM
NATO prolongs chief Stoltenberg's term for 2 more years

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO extended Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's tenure for two more years at the head of the world's biggest military alliance on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg has held the post since 2014 and his term has been marked by a spike in security challenges, including a resurgent Russia and foreign fighters returning to Europe from Syria and Iraq.

NATO said in a statement that the 29 NATO nations decided to prolong the former Norwegian prime minister's term until Sept. 30, 2020.

It said the allies "congratulate the Secretary-General and have full confidence in his ability to continue his dedicated work to advance NATO's adaptation to the security challenges of the 21st century."

British Prime Minister Theresa May lauded Stoltenberg as a "true champion of the NATO alliance."

She said "he has made sure that NATO has stood strong but not stood still, meeting Russian aggression in eastern Europe while reforming to face developing threats such as cyberattacks and hybrid-warfare."

Last week, the German government backed a two-year extension of Stoltenberg's term.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Stoltenberg had "the full support of Germany," adding that he had "done excellent work modernizing NATO and adapting its structures to a changed security situation."

She also praised his strong support of closer cooperation between NATO and the European Union, which have 22 member states in common.

Stoltenberg took up the position just after Russia had annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and the Islamic State group had seized cities in Syria and Iraq, inspiring a new, more brutal form of terrorism that would wreak havoc in European capitals.

For the NATO secretary-general "2014 was a turning point," he told The Associated Press during a trip to Poland in late August for talks with top officials and to thank some of about 4,000 NATO troops stationed in eastern Europe to deter an increasingly aggressive Moscow.

"Suddenly the world really changed," Stoltenberg said.