Rasmussen will be new NATO chief

April 4th, 2009 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Strasbourg (France), April 4 (DPA) NATO leaders Saturday picked Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the alliance’s next secretary general.
The decision was announced at the NATO summit in Strasbourg by the alliance’s current chief, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

“I will do my utmost to live up to the confidence shown to me by my colleagues,” Rasmussen said shortly after being chosen as the next head of the world’s largest military alliance.

He is expected to assume office when de Hoop Scheffer steps down July-end.

Rasmussen was an early supporter of former US president George W. Bush’s war on terror and committed Danish troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since 2001, he has headed a minority government of his centre-right Liberal Party and the Conservatives, leading it through three election victories.

That coalition government has managed to secure the backing of the populist Danish People’s Party, which pushes for more restrictive immigration policies.

But the government has also concentrated on welfare policies more linked with the Social Democratic model. And, on issues such as the European Union, Rasmussen has not been afraid to bypass the sceptical Danish People’s Party.

A major foreign policy test for Rasmussen took place in early 2006. Violent protests took place in several Muslim countries after the newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s published controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. Danish exports were also hit.

Rasmussen declined to issue an apology or meet with ambassadors from Muslim countries angered over the publication, citing that the government had no say in matters concerning freedom of the press.

That rigid stance was apparently one reason Turkey indicated disproval of Rasmussen prior to his designation as NATO boss, and may come into play in NATO’s ties with the Muslim world.

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