By Nerijus Adomaitis, Terje Solsvik and Gabriela Baczynska
OSLO/BRUSSELS -NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday he will extend his term as head of the alliance by a year as it faces the "biggest security crisis in a generation" due to the war in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg's term had been set to expire on Oct. 1 and he had been due to take up a post as central bank governor of his native Norway by the end of 2022.
"Honoured by the decision of #NATO Heads of State and Government to extend my term as Secretary General until 30 September 2023," Stoltenberg tweeted.
"As we face the biggest security crisis in a generation, we stand united to keep our Alliance strong and our people safe."
Russia's invasion of Ukraine a month ago has triggered Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War Two and led Western nations to fundamentally rethink their defence policies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 on what he calls a "special military operation" to demilitarise and "denazify" his neighbour. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
Stoltenberg, an economist by training and former leader of Norway's Labour Party, was Norwegian prime minister from 2000-01 and 2005-13 before becoming NATO chief the following year. He has also been finance minister and energy minister.
FIRST WOMAN TO RUN NORGES BANK
Norway's government last month said the central bank's deputy chief, Ida Wolden Bache, would work as governor until Stoltenberg took over the top job at the end of the year.
The finance ministry said it would now propose Wolden Bache to head the bank for the full six-year term. She is the first woman to run Norges Bank in its 206-year history.
"We have to find a new governor and that would be Ida Wolden Bache for six years ... if the government accepts," a finance ministry spokesperson said.
Stoltenberg's nomination to the central bank in February created controversy in his home country, with the opposition in parliament worrying his appointment could weaken Norges Bank's independence.
Norway is ruled by a coalition led by the Labour Party, which Stoltenberg used to lead.
Bache, who earlier on Thursday presented the Norwegian central bank's decision to hike rates to 0.75% from 0.50%, said she would agree to continue in the post.
"I applied because I am strongly committed to Norges Bank, its highly competent staff and its mission. My commitment is just as strong today," she said in a statement.
The central bank governor is in charge of setting interest rates and managing financial stability as well as overseeing Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest with assets of $1.4 trillion.
Wolden Bache's appointment to a full term is unlikely to change the course of monetary policy.
Monetary policy in Norway relies to a significant degree on staff recommendations and forecasts, as well as consensus-building on the five-member policy committee, economists have previously said.
Wolden Bache "has already been the acting governor for a few weeks and fills the role well", Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said in a statement. "Norway will have an excellent central bank governor in her."