Who is he, how did he reach this powerful position and does Scandinavia have such great military men?
Jens Stoltenberg (1959) is a Norwegian politician. He held various positions within the Norwegian government, the highest being prime minister between 2000-2001 and 2005-2013. Stoltenberg was born and raised in a political family: his father was a diplomat, and his early life was influenced by his sister who was actively involved in the Marxist party. His first political activity was when he protested against the US Vietnam War. His studies Economics brought him to eventual high government positions, such as state secretary of Finance and Energy, minister of Trade and Energy and minister of Finance.
His long time career in Norwegian politics made Stoltenberg a strong public official. Especially his calm and decisive reaction to the terrorist attacks in 2011 in Utoya was praised worldwide. Policy wise, under Stoltenbergs leadership, defense and military spending rose. Also, during his presidency Norway took a leading and highly contributive role to the NATO framework, with the Libya intervention as an example.
His predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was a Scandinavian politician as well. However, a trend could not be identified. More than that, the two SG’s mentioned above are yet the only Scandinavians holding this position!
Once in function, Stoltenberg started to raise a critical voice towards the Russian intervention in the Ukrainian Crimea. Labeling the actions as a threat to security and stability in Europe and a violation of international law, the Atlantic alliance had a flashback of the Cold War. Whether the NATO will return to be a military and strategic block to deter Russian provocation and violence will be determined by the upcoming months. Stoltenberg has had a wide range of experiences with the Russians: a conclusion of a border dispute in the Barents Sea, and a supposed spy scandal with a Russian diplomat among others.
With a view towards the future: Stoltenberg is expected to remain a strong promoter of security and stability in Europe, with military means if that deems necessary. Furthermore, the choice of Stoltenberg as SG is a choice for an experienced hard liner. Whether this will is a preamble for a clash between Putin and Stoltenberg is yet to be seen, but the Atlanticists have a strong man leading them.