Much of Denmark has expected the country’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to be appointed secretary-general of NATO this week – but it seems that they are going to be disappointed.
NATO’s Chief Spokesman James Appathurai says that the decision as to who is to be the next secretary-general of NATO is unlikely to be taken at a summit on Friday and Saturday.
“I wouldn’t exclude the possibility that the decision could be taken at the summit, but I don’t expect it to be,” he tells politiken.dk during an Afghanistan conference in The Hague.
Appurathai’s statement is in contrast to repeated statements by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has said that he expected a decision at this weekend’s summit of the 26 NATO heads of state and government in Baden-Baden and Strasbourg.
“I expect the decision to be taken at the summit and until then I have no comment on the situation,” the prime minister said as late as last Friday.
Appurathai, however, says that there is plenty of time to find a candidate who can win consensus in the Alliance, as the current secretary-general is not due to leave his post before August.
“It would be fine to appoint a new secretary-general at the summit. But at NATO we have never believed that a decision could be made there. That is an expectation that has arisen in the media,” he says.
Nor does Appurathai expect clarification when NATO’s ambassadors meet on Wednesday for their weekly NATO council where a formal decision is made.
“At the moment the ambassadors meet all the time and I don’t expect any decision tomorrow,” Appurathai says.
Turkey, in particular, has voiced skepticism about Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s candidacy as a result of what Ankara sees as a questionable reputation in several Muslim countries. Some confusion has emerged after the Turkish President Abdullah Gül and the Turkish Prime Minister Recet Tayyip Erdogan have issued conflicting statements about Fogh Rasmussen.
Last week, Gül expressed some confidence in Fogh Rasmussen, while immediately afterwards Erdogan appeared to say the opposite.
Turkey has also previously said that there is plenty of time to choose the right man for the job and that this weekend’s summit is no deadline.
President Gül, who last week said that Fogh Rasmussen was ‘one of the most important and successful prime ministers in Europe’ will be representing Turkey at the summit.