Third Dutchman in the NATO

Yasin Yağcı – The Netherlands
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Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the new Secretary of General of the NATO has officially taken office. The NATO was established during the Cold War era but is increasingly being questioned for its current raison d’etre. Last September, Mr. Schaffer was appointed to replace George Robertson, who retired from the NATO, while he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. He is the third Dutch Secretary General in the history of NATO.
NATO was founded after the Second World War in response to the danger poised by the Soviet Union. Its primary reason for existence has always been this perceived threat. The new Secretary General has a challenging road to take and only time can show whether Mr. Scheffer, a longtime diplomat at NATO, can cope with the difficulties. The secretary general’s attitude and vision is a critical factor in resolving issues. Therefore, it is is important to take a look at Mr. Scheffer’s resume.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is originally a diplomat who worked at NATO as well. He entered the Dutch Parliament as a member of the Christian Democratic Party and has been serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 2. Balkenende government. Mr. Scheffer comes from a Catholic family and is known to be close to the US. During the disagreement between the US and France-Germany block before the war in Iraq, he openly sided with the US policy.

This support did not go without a thank-you. When his name came up for the Nato Secretary General position, the US gave the biggest support. Some observers even interpreted Mr. Scheffer’s visit to the White House with Prime Minister Balkenende during the first week of September as a business meeting.

Obviously, the American support for Mr. Scheffer is related with his attitude towards the US. Although Mr. Scheffer emphasizes that he will work to improve the EU-USA relations, his importance for the US became apparent when he supported the US-led war in Iraq. He did not miss any opportunity to state his support the US policy explicitly or implicitly. This support took a concrete shape when the Netherlands provided units for the multinational force deployed in Iraq after the war.

During his political career, Mr. Scheffer displayed a calm and determined personality. He is well known to have fierce discussions in the Parliament as well. He has Prime Minister Balkenende’s full trust and had served as the leader of the Christian Democratic Party in the past. Before he started his new job, he was also the President of the European Security and Cooperation Organization (ESCO) which has 55 members. Observers think that his experience in the ESCO gives Mr. Scheffer the ability to act comfortably in the international arena.

Although he is obviously very well-qualified for the job and has an impressive track record as a politician and a diplomat, the Secretary General will have to deal with serious issues within his organizations.
In particular, the Secretary General did not give any indications about how he will be handling the EU-US relations.

(April 2004, 12th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07