Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen may owe his selection as the next NATO secretary-general to Obama.The new Secretary General is so described:
Turkey had objected strongly to the Danish leader. That's because Rasmussen infuriated many Muslims by defending freedom of speech during a 2005 uproar over a Danish newspaper's publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Discussions on the choice of Rasmussen began over dinner Friday night, but could not overcome Turkey's concerns.
So Obama convened a meeting Saturday morning with himself, Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Rasmussen that lasted about an hour and significantly delayed the start of the official NATO session, according to retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, Obama's national security adviser.
Jones said the meeting broke the deadlock.
All 28 member countries signed off on Rasmussen as NATO's next leader.
Obama noted the unanimous vote at his news conference.
He thanked Turkey "for raising some concerns having to do with their security issues and their confidence that the new secretary-general would address them," Obama said. "So I congratulate all the parties concerned in arriving at an outstanding outcome."
Obama also expressed his confidence in Rasmussen, "calling him an outstanding public servant" and "somebody with an extraordinary reputation."
Fogh Rasmussen, 56, has a reputation domestically and internationally as a deft negotiator. He has led a minority government since 2001, and helped raise Denmark's profile with a strong commitment to European Union cooperation and trans-Atlantic ties. He speaks French fluently, a key requirement in bilingual NATO. (emphasis added)That latter point, bit of a problem for MacKay:
The comparison with the more experienced Rasmussen illuminates that the whole MacKay as Secretary General notion was a stretch. MacKay is ambitious but was clearly punching above his weight class here.
Now MacKay is back to Canada to formulate the next stage of his political career, with his "star" accordingly affected.