News ID: 261383
Published: 0304 GMT November 10, 2019

Germany warns France against undermining NATO security alliance

Germany warns France against undermining NATO security alliance
HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate in the background, Berlin, Germany, on November 9, 2019.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned on Sunday against undermining NATO, in Berlin’s strongest response to date to French President Emmanuel Macron’s critical remarks about the security alliance.

Macron told The Economist this week that NATO was experiencing “brain death”, citing a lack of coordination and US unpredictability under President Donald Trump. He also expressed doubt about the US-led alliance’s security maxim that an attack on one ally would be treated as an attack on all, Reuters reported.

“It would be a mistake if we undermined NATO. Without the United States, neither Germany nor Europe will be able to effectively protect themselves,” Maas wrote in a column published online by Der Spiegel magazine.

Maas supported Macron’s call to strengthen Europe’s defense capabilities. “That’s why together with France, we are working hard to build a Europe that works much closer together in security policy,” Maas wrote.

France has traditionally had an ambivalent role in NATO, taking no part in its strategic military planning from 1966 to 2009 despite being a founding member. Still Macron’s comments – a month before NATO’s Dec. 4 summit in London – were unexpected.

Germany, for its part, has been accused by the United States and European allies of spending too little on defense.

Maas repeated his call for the creation of a European Security Council in which Britain should also be a member, regardless of London’s planned exit from the European Union.

Maas said he was working closely on this idea with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Germany would present a framework for such a council during its EU presidency in the second half of 2020.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly video podcast that NATO was the central pillar of Germany’s defense architecture, adding that European countries had to take on more responsibilities in the security alliance.

“We’ll also develop weapons systems together in the future. This includes the project of a new combat aircraft as well as a battle tank,” said Merkel.

Macron was speaking ahead of a NATO summit meeting scheduled for December 3 and 4 in London.

But Merkel, speaking alongside NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin after the Macron interview came out, defended NATO as "indispensable."

Macron "used drastic words," she said, adding, "That is not my view of cooperation in NATO," AFP reported.

In Washington, the NATO chief will also confer Thursday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of Congress, the alliance said.

 

   
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