Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has been named as the new secretary general of the Nato military alliance.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: "Superbly qualified"
He replaces the UK's George Robertson, who is standing down in December after four years in the post.
Mr De Hoop Scheffer, 55, of the Dutch Christian Democrat party, has pledged to modernise the alliance.
In an interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme, he rejected criticism that Nato has become irrelevant.
"The alliance is as relevant and alive and kicking as ever.
The only thing is that the international security surroundings
and scene and structure have changed drastically and
dramatically," he said.
"The enemy is not the traditional enemy any more, but the
enemy for instance is international terrorism, the enemy is
instability, the enemy is insecurity, that is the reason why
NATO is in Afghanistan, why NATO is supporting the Polish
division in Iraq. That is the new enemy," he said.
Mr De Hoop Scheffer saw off a challenge from Canada's candidate, John Manley, who failed to win enough support from European nations and withdrew his candidacy earlier on Monday.
Amsterdam-born Mr De Hoop Scheffer was a senior diplomat before entering parliament in 1986.
After senior positions in the offices of four foreign ministers, he took the post himself in July 2002.
The father-of-two, who once served as a reserve officer in the Dutch Air Force, he is the third Dutchman to serve as Nato's secretary general.
Lord Robertson, who announced his intention to leave the post earlier this year, had said a decision on his replacement was needed quickly.
Nato has been evolving from a Cold War-era defensive bloc into global security organisation, and its forthcoming expansion will include
seven former communist states from Eastern Europe.
Fred van Staden, head of the Clingendael Institute for Strategic Studies
in The Hague, described Mr De Hoop Scheffer as "an extremely
talented professional" who could build bridges between the United States and opponents of the war in Iraq, Germany and France.
"He is convinced of the importance of strong relations
between the United States and Europe," said Mr Van Staden.
"He is the perfect figure to iron out
creases in the Atlantic alliance."
In a statement, Lord Robertson said: "Jaap has a distinguished record as both diplomat and
politician that make him superbly qualified to be secretary
"As foreign minister, he impressed all his
colleagues with his judgment and grasp of the issues...
"I am delighted that we have found the right man to ensure
Nato remains the world's most successful defence
Mr Robertson is to become deputy chairman of the British-based telecoms group Cable and Wireless.