Jens Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian prime minister who went on to become secretary general of NATO, has once again appointed a Norwegian as his new chief of staff. Stian Jenssen, age 39, is taking over after one of Stoltenberg’s former Labour Party colleagues who’d moved to Brussels and was ready to go home.
Jenssen, who’s been working in NATO’s Norwegian delegation since Stoltenberg took on his post in 2014, will replace Torgeir Larsen, who served as a state secretary in Norway’s foreign ministry during Stoltenberg’s government. He’ll be heading back to the foreign ministry after two years with the title of “Director of the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General.”
“It’s been clear for a long time that Torgeir Larsen was only going to be here for two years, because he has family and children at home,” Stoltenberg told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “He made that clear when he began. I’ve been glad to work with Torgeir.”
Stoltenberg added that he’d found “a good replacement” in Stian Jenssen, “who knows NATO very well. This is a very undramatic and well-prepared shift.”
DN reported that Jenssen is originally from Porsgrunn in Telemark County, about two hours southwest of Oslo. He started his career in the defense ministry, specializing in security policy, and worked for Norway’s NATO delegation until the former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark took him on as a member of his international staff.
When Stoltenberg arrived in Brussels, Jenssen continued in the closest circles around the secretary general. DN reported that during a recent trip to Washington DC, Stoltenberg even borrowed shoes and cuff links from Jenssen to wear to a gala dinner in his honour, because he’d forgotten his tuxedo accessories at home.
Larsen, meanwhile, told DN that he’s looking forward to no longer having to commute between Oslo and Brussels. “When I accepted the job as Stoltenberg’s chief of staff two years ago, our agreement was that I’d stay through two years and two summits, which I’ve now done,” Larsen said. “It’s been incredibly exciting, but with a wife and two boys in Oslo, it’s time to head home and pass the relay baton on to Stian Jenssen. He’ll prepare the next NATO summit in 2018 with Stoltenberg.”