Ben Wallace eyes NATO’s top job as he jets to Munich for crunch summit

Ben Wallace says ‘Russia is yet to achieve any of its objectives’

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Ben Wallace has signalled he could be interested in becoming NATO’s next Secretary-General. The current Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, is nearing the end of his term, and while there has been no official decision made, a spokesperson for the NATO chief has indicated that he is not seeking an extension. Ben Wallace seems to be putting himself forward as a candidate and has described the job as a great opportunity, the UK Defence Secretary is currently attending a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

Mr Wallace told TimesRadio: “I love the job of being secretary of defence, I think I’ve now become the longest-serving Conservative defence secretary, as of a few days ago.

“That obviously takes its toll on your hairline and everything else. But fundamentally, it’s a great job.”

He added: “But of course, NATO is a great job, as well. And the secretary-general of NATO this year has announced this weekend that he won’t renew his mandate at the end of this year. And of course, we’ll see what happens.”

To become the NATO Secretary-General, Wallace will need to overcome opposition from members who are pushing for a female or an Eastern European candidate.

Additionally, France is said to prefer a candidate from the European Union.

The decision on the new Secretary-General will require a consensus from all 30 members of NATO, and there are several potential candidates in the running.

During an interview with BBC Breakfast, Wallace dismissed recent German media reports that suggested NATO had concerns about the state of the British army, saying that it was untrue.

He also refuted the claim that NATO had requested that Germany remain in charge of the alliance’s rapid-reaction force, which the United Kingdom is expected to lead next year.

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Stoltenberg on Thursday urged Turkey to ratify the applications of Finland and Sweden to join the military organization, repeating his claim that the Nordic neighbors have done enough to satisfy Ankara’s demands that they crack down on extremism.

At a news conference in Ankara standing alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Stoltenberg also condemned the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, at a protest in Sweden but he said that this is not illegal in Europe.

Alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Finland and neighboring Sweden abandoned decades of nonalignment and applied to join the alliance.

All 30 NATO members approved their applications, and 28 have ratified their accession. Only Turkey and Hungary have failed to do so.

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Stoltenberg and most allies have long said that both the Nordic neighbors should join at the same time, but in recent days NATO’s top civilian official has soften his stance amid Turkey’s reluctance to ratify Sweden’s accession.

He told reporters in Ankara: “My position is that both can be ratified now. But the main issue is not whether they are ratified together, the main issue is that Finland and Sweden are ratified as soon as possible.”

Turkey accuses the government in Stockholm of being too soft on groups it deems to be terror organizations or existential threats, including Kurdish groups. Earlier this month, Cavusoglu said Ankara has fewer problems with Finland joining.

Cavusoglu said on Thursday: “It would not be a realistic approach to say that Sweden has fully fulfilled its obligations.

“At the moment, we have not yet seen the concrete steps we want.”

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