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Stoltenberg extends NATO term by a year amid Ukraine crisis

© Reuters. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference on the eve of a NATO summit, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

By Nerijus Adomaitis, Terje Solsvik and Gabriela Baczynska

OSLO/BRUSSELS (Reuters) -NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will extend his term as head of the alliance by a year as it faces the “biggest security crisis in a generation” due to the war in Ukraine, he said on Thursday.

Stoltenberg’s term had been set to expire on Oct. 1 and he had been due to take up a post as central bank governor of his native Norway by the end of 2022.

“Honoured by the decision of #NATO Heads of State and Government to extend my term as Secretary General until 30 September 2023,” Stoltenberg tweeted.

“As we face the biggest security crisis in a generation, we stand united to keep our Alliance strong and our people safe.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a month ago has triggered Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War Two and led Western nations to fundamentally rethink their defence policies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 on what he calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

Stoltenberg, an economist by training and former leader of Norway’s Labour Party, was Norwegian prime minister from 2000-01 and 2005-13 before becoming NATO chief the following year. He has also been finance minister and energy minister.

The Norwegian government last month named deputy central bank chief Ida Wolden Bache governor of Norges Bank for up to nine months, with Stoltenberg slated to take the top job by year-end.

The Norwegian finance ministry will propose Wolden Bache as his replacement for the full six-year term, it told Reuters.

“We have to find a new governor and that would be Ida Wolden Bache for six years … if the government accepts,” a finance ministry spokesperson said in an interview.

Stoltenberg’s nomination to the central bank in February created controversy in his home country, with the opposition in parliament worrying his appointment could weaken Norges Bank’s independence.

Norway is ruled by a coalition led by the Labour Party, which Stoltenberg used to lead.

Bache on Thursday presented the Norwegian central bank’s decision to hike rates to 0.75% from 0.50% previously.

The central bank was not reachable for comment after Stoltenberg said he would continue on at NATO.

The central bank governor is in charge of setting interest rates and managing financial stability as well as overseeing Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest with assets of $1.4 trillion.

Wolden Bache’s appointment to a full term is unlikely to change the course of monetary policy.

Monetary policy in Norway relies to a significant degree on staff recommendations and forecasts, as well as consensus-building on the five-member policy committee, economists have previously said.

Wolden Bache “has already been the acting governor for a few weeks and fills the role well”, Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said in a statement. “Norway will have an excellent central bank governor in her.”

Stoltenberg extends NATO term by a year amid Ukraine crisis

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