Monday 18 November 2019

NATO suffering 'brain death' warns French President Emmanuel Macron as he questions US commitment

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses a press conference on the second day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. Picture: Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses a press conference on the second day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. Picture: Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Michel Rose

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned fellow European countries that they can no longer rely on the United States to defend North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies.

"What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO," Macron was quoted as saying in an interview with British weekly The Economist.

Asked whether he still believed in the Article Five "collective defence" stipulations of NATO's founding treaty - under which an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies - Macron answered: "I don't know."

"(NATO) only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I'd argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States," Macron added.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

US Nato troops emplacing the Patriot air and missile defence system in Poland in 2015. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images
US Nato troops emplacing the Patriot air and missile defence system in Poland in 2015. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

READ MORE: 'Europe of defence is France's priority' - Macron calls for closer military ties

The United States is showing signs of "turning its back on us", as demonstrated by President Donald Trump's sudden decision last month to pull troops out of northeastern Syria last month without consulting the allies, the French leader said.

That move caught NATO's leading European powers - France, Britain and Germany - by surprise and paved the way for Turkey, another NATO member, to launch a cross-border military operation targeting Syrian Kurdish forces.

At the time Macron decried NATO's inability to react to Turkey's offensive and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally of the United States when it came to the Middle East.

READ MORE: US moves to protect Syrian oilfields from IS

The European allies fear the U.S. withdrawal from northeastern Syria will cause a security vacuum that can be exploited by Islamist militants.

France has long pressed for closer European defence cooperation but has faced resistance from Britain and others which say the United States remains key to Western defence, especially in the face of a more assertive Russia.

Trump has been strongly critical of European countries' heavy reliance on the United States for their defence and the failure of some, notably Germany, to hit a NATO target of spending 2pc of national output on defence.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address the media during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, November 7, 2019. Picture: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address the media during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, November 7, 2019. Picture: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

READ MORE: John Downing: 'Three decades after the promise of democracy swept central and eastern Europe, reality has bitten'

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Macron used "drastic words", saying that was not her view.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also rejected the characterisation during a joint news conference in Berlin.

"NATO remains a cornerstone of our security," Merkel told reporters.

READ MORE: Declan Power: 'Whatever its faults, the EU's rules foster a peace that we must never take for granted'

Reuters

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News