NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has tapped Romania’s ex-Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana to take over the next Deputy Secretary-General in mid-October.
Geoana will replace Rose Gottemoeller, an American, who has held the position since October 2016.
A career diplomat, Geoana served as chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2001 and is the founder and president of the non-profit association, the Aspen Institute Romania. His other posts include a three-year term as President of the Romanian Senate and four years as Romania’s youngest-ever Ambassador to the United States.
In 2005, Geoana won a surprise victory over Ion Iliescu to become the head of the Social Democratic Party, Romania’s largest political faction. Iliescu had been a dominant figure in Romanian politics following the overthrow of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in December 1989. During his presidency, Romania joined NATO, but Iliescu’s presidency was often marred by multiple allegations that, though he was in opposition to Ceaușescu within the Romanian Communist Party, Iliescu retained much of his predecessor’s vertical of power and did little to stamp out widespread corruption or prosecute members of Ceaușescu’s feared intelligence service, the Securitate.
Geoana’s surprise win was later attributed by the Romanian media to a soft coup by party leaders who were opposed to Iliescu after several public gaffes made at a Party Congress, including using the Ceaușescu-era term “comrades” when referring to his party colleagues.
In April 2018, Iliescu was charged in Romania with committing crimes against humanity during the deadly aftermath of the country’s 1989 revolution.
Prior to serving under Stoltenberg, Gottemoeller was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department. A fluent Russian speaker, Gottemoeller served on the National Security Council in the Clinton White House as director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasian Affairs and worked closely on the process of post-Soviet denuclearisation in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.
Gottemoeller was also the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center from January 2006 to December 2008 and later served as the Obama administration’s chief negotiator of for the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty otherwise known as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the Russian Federation.