|Last update: 07-Jan-2004 17:32||NATO Update|
New Secretary General takes up office
The new Secretary General of NATO, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer of the Netherlands, took up his duties on 5 January 2004, beginning an initial four-year term in office.
He arrived at NATO Headquarters in Brussels at nine o’clock in the morning to be greeted by the Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Minuto Rizzo, the Chairman of the Military Committee, General Kujat, and the Dean of the North Atlantic Council, Ambassador Kovanda of the Czech Republic.
In a brief address to the media he paid tribute to his predecessor, Lord Robertson, saying that NATO had taken on new responsibilities and “is going through a continuous process of transformation to be able to meet new challenges”.
Mr. de Hoop Scheffer said that his main priorities were to continue this transformation, to ensure the smooth entry of the seven countries expected to join NATO this year, and to improve dialogue between Europe and North America.
He singled out Afghanistan as the main challenge on the Alliance’s current agenda, saying that NATO and the international community cannot afford to fail in the effort to stabilize the country. NATO’s partnerships, and particularly its relations with the European Union, were also a key priority, he said.
Mr. de Hoop Scheffer is the 11th NATO Secretary General, following Lord Robertson, who held the post from 1999 to 2003.