COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will become Norway's next central bank governor, officials said Friday.
Stoltenberg's tenure at NATO ends later this year. Norway's government announced his appointment at the central bank in a statement and said it hopes he can start in his new role around Dec. 1.
“I am grateful for the trust and am looking forward to taking on the job,” Stoltenberg told a news conference, which he attended by videoconference from Brussels where the 30-member military alliance is headquartered. He was informed Friday that he got the job.
The current governor of Norges Bank, 70-year-old Øystein Olsen, is retiring this year after holding the position since Jan. 1, 2011, for two terms.
Stoltenberg, 62, was Norway's finance minister from 1996 to 2000, and prime minister from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2005 until 2013. He had previously said if he got the central bank governor position, he wouldn't be able to start before leaving his NATO job on Oct. 1.
He became NATO secretary-general in 2014. After a successful first term, his mandate at the trans-Atlantic alliance was extended.
Stoltenberg has been praised for steering NATO through a difficult period under the Trump administration, when the U.S. threatened not to come to the aid of member countries that weren’t spending enough on defense.
The appointment comes at the same time as NATO plays a key role in the crisis between Russia and the West.
“Mr. Stoltenberg has made clear that until that time, his focus remains firmly on his NATO responsibilities," a NATO official said in a statement.
Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said he wanted to find “the best central bank governor for Norway, and I am confident that it is Jens Stoltenberg.”
“The combination of financial background, understanding of society and a management experience few in Norway have, makes him very suitable as top manager of Norges Bank,” he said in a statement.
He added that deputy governor Ida Wolden Bache will be the interim governor until Stoltenberg can take over.
“I am especially looking forward to working" with Wolden Bache,” Stoltenberg told the news conference, adding the deputy governor who also had applied for the position has “experience and knowledge that has been of great benefit to the bank.”
Olsen said in a separate statement that Stoltenberg is “a committed and skilled economist,” and that the bank would be “in safe hands” with Wolden Bache.
During the news conference, Norwegian media quizzed Stoltenberg about his close personal relationship to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Both are members of the Labor Party. As central bank governor, he has to be independent of any government.
“I have long experience from having friendships with people and I have integrity in relation not to sharing information when relevant. NATO is an example. I have dealt with many people where I have to take care of independence and not share much information,” Stoltenberg said, adding he still wanted to be friends with Gahr Støre.