“Too critical of Moscow”: German Chancellor Scholz prevented Von der Leyen from becoming the new NATO chief, according to German newspaper | Abroad

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has blocked Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) from becoming NATO’s new Secretary General. This was reported by the German newspaper ‘Welt am Sonntag’. “The Social Democrats were apparently not happy with her Russia course,” it said. According to insiders, support for the outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in that position is increasing.

The German newspaper relies on several senior EU officials and top diplomats. They independently confirmed that Scholz prevented the European Commission president from becoming Stoltenberg’s successor at the end of last year. The latter will leave after the summer, after ten years of leading the alliance.

“Scholz was categorically against von der Leyen becoming head of NATO,” insiders told the newspaper. The Chancellor is said to have considered the position of NATO chief too important to have it held by a German Christian Democrat from the CDU, who has been in opposition in Germany since the September 2021 elections.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had introduced Von der Leyen to President Joe Biden, according to the newspaper. He then turned to Scholz, who rejected the proposal. “For Scholz, the position of European Commission President is considerably less important,” the sources stated.

Too critical

“In addition, Ursula von der Leyen is apparently too critical of Moscow, which could prove to be a disadvantage from the chancellor’s perspective in the long term,” the German newspaper said. She notes that people close to Von der Leyen have repeatedly said that the President of the European Commission would normally not be available for the position of Secretary General of NATO.

Nevertheless, according to sources in EU circles, it is striking with what “passion and determination” Von der Leyen is committed to foreign policy and how she personally repeatedly focuses on the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Gaza Strip. “This also temporarily irritates EU Council President Charles Michel and EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell.”


At the same time, they say, there are “increasing signs” that Dutch outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte will succeed Jens Stoltenberg as head of the transatlantic alliance. “The decision should, if possible, be taken before the European elections in June,” a senior NATO diplomat told ‘Welt am Sonntag’. According to diplomatic circles, Rutte is currently holding many talks and “support for him is increasing”.

According to the newspaper, Rutte also wants to hold some discussions with government leaders from NATO countries at the Munich Security Conference, which is in its second day on Saturday. “The governments in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin have long been firmly behind his candidacy. So far, only Hungary has raised public concerns. A total of 21 countries have already expressed their support for Rutte and a few more will probably follow after Munich.”


The 31 NATO member states extended Jens Stoltenberg’s mandate by one year in July last year. The alliance had not agreed on a successor and the Norwegian offered the best guarantee of stability. Officially, Stoltenberg’s term runs until October 1, 2024. It is heard in the corridors that he would like to hand over the baton after the NATO summit in Washington, where the 75th anniversary of the alliance will be celebrated in July.

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