You’re up, Joe: Europe awaits Biden’s nod on next NATO chief

Europe is waiting for white smoke from Washington.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will visit the White House on Tuesday, part of a trip that could determine whether he stays on at the helm of the Western military alliance or if the U.S. will back a new candidate.

For months now, Europe has been locked in an endless parlor game over who might replace Stoltenberg, who is slated to leave his already-extended term in September after nearly 10 years at the helm.

Candidates have risen, fallen and risen again, while some desired successors have repeatedly proclaimed themselves not interested. Diplomats at NATO headquarters in Brussels will put forth one theory, only to offer a different one in the next sentence.

Throughout it all, the U.S. has stayed noticeably mum on the subject, merely indicating President Joe Biden hasn’t settled on a candidate and effusively praising Stoltenberg’s work. Yet Biden can’t sit on the fence forever. While the NATO chief is technically chosen by consensus, the White House’s endorsement carries heavy weight.

The foot-dragging has left NATO in limbo: while some members say it’s high time for a fresh face, the NATO job — traditionally reserved for a European — has become highly sensitive. There are few senior European leaders who are both available and can win the backing of all 31 alliance members for the high-profile post.

The result is that all eyes have turned to Washington as the clock ticks down to NATO’s annual summit in July — a sort of deadline for the alliance to make a decision on its next (or extended) leader.

“I would not be 100 percent sure that the list is closed,” said one senior diplomat from Central Europe, who like others was granted anonymity to discuss alliance dynamics. “There might be,” the diplomat added, “a last-minute extension initiative.”

Shadow contest

Diplomats are divided on what will happen in the NATO leadership sweepstakes.

While many candidates still insist they are not in the running — and Stoltenberg has repeatedly said he plans to go home to Norway, where he was prime minister — all options appear to remain on the table.

In recent days, the two possible contenders mentioned most often in diplomatic circles are Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Frederiksen met with Biden at the White House last week, turbocharging speculation about her future. As a female leader from a European Union country that is a strong Ukraine supporter but not a full-on hawk, the Danish leader checks off many boxes for some of the alliance’s most influential members.

Yet speaking to reporters in Washington, she insisted, “I am not a candidate for any other job than the one I have now, and this has not changed after my meeting with the U.S. president.”

In NATO circles, however, the narrative is different. Four European diplomats said Frederiksen’s name is still circulating as a serious contender for the post.

Still, Frederiksen faces challenges: Denmark already had the top NATO job less than a decade ago. And not everyone is totally enthusiastic.

“The Turks might want to block the Danish candidate,” said the senior Central European diplomat. “There is some distance to this idea (not to Frederiksen personally) also elsewhere in the east and in the south, and some of those countries might even join a potential blockade.”

Turkey summoned the Danish envoy in Ankara earlier this year after a far-right group burned a Quran and Turkish flag in Copenhagen. More broadly, the Turkish government has taken issue with a number of northern European countries and is still blocking Sweden’s NATO accession bid.

Asked about possible opposition to the Danish leader from Ankara, however, a Turkish official said: “It is gossip, period. We have never been asked about her candidacy!”

Britain’s Wallace, on the other hand, has openly expressed interest in the NATO job.

But he faces an uphill battle. Many allies would prefer to see a former head of government in the role. And some EU capitals have signaled they would oppose a non-EU candidate.

Asked last week if it’s time for a British secretary-general, Biden was lukewarm.

“Maybe. That remains to be seen,” the president said. “We’re going to have to get a consensus within NATO to see that happen. They have a candidate who’s a very qualified individual. But we’re going to have — we have a lot of discussion, not between us, but in NATO, to determine what the outcome of that will be.”

A number of other names — including Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Spanish leader Pedro Sánchez — are still occasionally mentioned, although less frequently. Sánchez, for his part, could soon be in the market for a new job as he faces a tough election in July.

Some diplomats simply aren’t crazy about any of the leading options.

“I don’t feel it,” said a senior NATO diplomat, also speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations. The diplomat argued the “most likely” scenario is yet another short extension for Stoltenberg and a need to then “refresh” the list of candidates.

The senior diplomat from Central Europe argued that “the EU core” — some of the bloc’s most influential capitals — might be in favor of an extension that would sync up the NATO chief talks with the EU’s upcoming leadership reshuffle after the EU’s June 2024 elections. Combining the two could open the door to more political horse trading.

But asked last month about his future, Stoltenberg said: “I have made it clear that I have no other plans than to leave this fall. I will already have been almost twice as long as originally planned.”

Others insisted they remained upbeat about the names on the table.

Both Frederiksen and Wallace, said one senior northern European diplomat, “seem well qualified.”

A senior diplomat from Eastern Europe bet on a new NATO chief soon.

“I think,” the diplomat said, “we are moving closer to the replacement than extension.”

Eli Stokols contributed reporting.

Source link

#Youre #Joe #Europe #awaits #Bidens #nod #NATO #chief

India, Denmark have strong, historic silver traditions: Danish Crown Prince

India and Denmark have “strong and historic silver traditions”, Danish Crown Prince Frederik André Henrik Christian said on Monday and expressed hope that both nations will serve as a true example of artistic cultural exchange to the rest of the world.

Denmark’s Crown Prince and Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth, who are currently touring India, inaugurated an exhibition — “Silver Treasure from India and Denmark” — showcasing more than 250 pieces of prized silverware from both countries, during their visit to the National Museum in Delhi.

As part of the exhibition, around 150 objects, including one from the Mohenjo-daro era, have been sourced from the National Museum’s reserved collection. The exhibition included a range of rare silverware, some of them more than 300 years old, from Museum Kolding in Denmark, officials said.

‘Silver treasures from India and Denmark’ Exhibition, in New Delhi.
| Photo Credit:

After a ceremonial event held at the National Museum, Denmark’s Crown Prince and Crown Princess later opened the exhibition and were given a tour of the exhibits.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakashi Lekhi and Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen were present on the occasion.

Denmark’s Crown Prince later wrote a message in the visitor’s book and also signed it.

In his message, he thanked Ms. Lekhi for hosting the royal couple at the National Museum and termed the display an “extraordinary exhibition on silver”.

“India and Denmark have strong and historic silver traditions. I sincerely hope that both nations get inspired, learn from each other’s silver traditions, and serve as a true example of artistic cultural exchange to the rest of the world. With these important cultural exchanges, we build a strong foundation of our future cultural cooperation,” he wrote.

Denmark’s Crown Prince and Crown Princess arrived in India on Sunday on a four-day visit. It is the first visit to India from the Danish Royal family in two decades.

The two are visiting India at the invitation of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Later in the day, the Ministry of Culture in a statement said, the National Museum, New Delhi, has opened “an international exhibition showcasing history and splendour of Indian and Danish silver together, for the first time in India”.

“The exhibition is a melting pot for a diverse variety of silver artworks from the two distinctive countries. It showcases more than 250 extraordinary silver objects segregated into five different themes that explore the craftsmanship and silversmith techniques of two countries from various aspects,” it said.

Earlier, during the ceremonial event, Danish Foreign Minister Rasmussen, in his address to a gathering, said, the exhibition was “another step” in the ongoing relationship between India and Denmark that goes back more than 400 years.

“And, it is only right to celebrate our strong friendship with a silver exhibition,” he said, adding that these silver objects are a living thing like “our friendship is a living thing”.

He also recalled his visit to India in 2019 as then prime minister of Denmark.

“Since my last trip, I am very happy to see the progress in our partnership and the progress in India, which is quite amazing,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

He said the partnership between the two countries is “developing”, and taking “another important step” with this exciting India-Denmark cultural exchange programme.

The Danish foreign minister said the two countries have cooperation in multiple areas that bind them, but cultural cooperation adds something more to the bilateral ties. India and Denmark, both have a rich legacy of history and craftsmanship, Mr. Rasmussen said.

“I am sure this is just a beginning of a strong, sustainable and long-lasting cooperation which will further deepen our bilateral ties,” he said.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the exhibition was signed and exchanged between the National Museum, New Delhi, and the Museum Kolding in Kolding, Denmark on November 17 last year.

“When we look at Denmark, we look as a friend, and I am sure, Denmark looks at India as a friend too,” Ms. Lekhi said in his address, adding there are values that bind the two countries, but “culture connects” in a different way.

She also recalled the exhibition “Tradition is Contemporary- Danish Textile Craft in Art and Design” which was inaugurated last November at the National Crafts Museum and Hastkala Academy here in the presence of Freddy Svane, Danish Ambassador to India.

On the exhibition that opened on Monday, Ms. Lekhi said, these silver pieces represent the “beauty of the two cultures”.

“Delighted to witness an impressive collection of ‘Silver Treasures From India and Denmark’, a collaboration between the National Museum and Kolding Museum. The exhibition was inaugurated by their Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth of Denmark,” Ms. Lekhi later tweeted and shared a few pictures.

Lily Pandeya, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, and Director General of the National Museum, said this exhibition will be remembered as the “silver knot” that binds the two countries and inspire more cultural dialogues between India and the rest of the world.

Some of the rare silver pieces on display include a matchbox and a glass, both dating to the 19th century period, from Madras (now Chennai), an 18th-century perfume container from Lucknow, a 17th-century spouted ewer from Kashmir among the Indian objects.

From Denmark, rare pieces from the 17th century, 18th century and 19th century and 20th century, including vintage tea sets, tableware, cutlery have been put on display in the exhibition that will end on April 30.

A ‘Giraffe vase’ from Copenhagen, with its design inspired by the animal’s anatomy, has also been put on display.

Danish Ambassador to India Freddy Svane and India’s Ambassador in Denmark Pooja Kapur, and Director of Museum Kolding, Rune Ottogreen Lundberg were also present on the occasion.

“The exhibition marks a cultural milestone in the cooperation between India and Denmark. Culture creates a bridge where we can learn a lot from each other and gain insight into each other’s worlds, differences and similarities.

“The exhibition is part of a cultural exchange programme, which continues until 2026, so there is much to look forward to with exchanges in culture, crafts, music and literature,” Mr. Lundberg said and described the exhibits as an “outstanding collection”.

Silver objects dating back to the Indus Valley Civilisation include rare silver beads, coins dating back to ancient and medieval India, miniature idols, jewellery, smoking pipes, exclusively carved and enamelled ‘ itardaan‘ (perfume bottle) and other decorative items from the collection of the National Museum are part of the exhibition, the statement said.

The eclectic Danish collection of Museum Kolding on display, include a Bible cover in silver, a spinning kettle, tankard depicting biblical stories, along with other exquisite pieces like perfume boxes, jewellery and cutlery, it said.

Source link

#India #Denmark #strong #historic #silver #traditions #Danish #Crown #Prince