Brussels, 22 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- NATO officials have chosen Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as the alliance's next secretary general. The alliance today said in a statement that ambassadors from the 19 NATO member-nations chose De Hoop Scheffer (pronounced: Yahp de Hope Skheffer) to succeed Lord George Robertson, who is stepping down in December after completing a four-year term as secretary general.
De Hoop Scheffer, 55, served at the Dutch mission to NATO in the 1980s before entering the Dutch Parliament. He became the Netherlands' foreign minister last year.
Since NATO's founding in 1949, the alliance's top civilian post has always been held by a European, while a U.S. general has always served as the supreme allied commander.