In another sign of support for the alliance after the French President’s stern remarks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that keeping NATO afloat is of great importance to Berlin.
“Maintaining NATO today is even more in our very own interests as it was in the Cold War - or at least as important as it was in the Cold War”, she told German lawmakers on Wednesday, adding that “the foreign minister said yesterday Europe currently cannot defend itself on its own.”
Her remarks comes a few days after The New York Times reported that Angela Merkel was “uncharacteristically furious” and reproached French President Emmanuel Macron at a dinner celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall after he earlier announced NATO’s “brain death”.
“I understand your desire for disruptive politics. But I’m tired of picking up the pieces. Over and over, I have to glue together the cups you have broken so that we can then sit down and have a cup of tea together,” Merkel reportedly said.
Earlier, she publicly objected to Macron’s description of the alliance as “brain dead” by saying that “the French president has found rather drastic words to express his views”.
“This is not how I see the state of cooperation at NATO,” Merkel pointed out, adding that “NATO remains a cornerstone of our security”.
She was echoed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who warned that the EU should not distance itself from NATO given the bloc’s current defence capability.
“What I can say today is that NATO is strong, agile and vital to our [EU] security. The European bloc cannot replace the trans-Atlantic alliance. The EU is important, but it cannot defend Europe,” Stoltenberg asserted.
Macron Argues NATO ‘Brain Dead’
The remarks followed Macron’s interview with The Economist, during which he argued that NATO was allegedly experiencing "brain death" due to a lack of coordination and US unpredictability under President Donald Trump.
The president also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of Article 5 of the NATO treaty that an "attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all of its members".
“I don't know," but what will Article Five mean tomorrow?”, he said.
NATO, according to Macron, "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 light of the commitment of the United States", he added.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly argued that Macron didn’t mean the death of NATO but wanted to make it clear that “nobody should ignore the crisis that the alliance has been going through.”
French President Calls for Creating EU Army
The US President has repeatedly pressed NATO member states to meet their annual defence spending obligations in the alliance, even insisting that they raise their expenditures to 4 percent of GDP — instead of the existing target of 2 percent.
In November 2018, Macron insisted that the EU should have a “real European army” independent of the United States and NATO to be able to defend itself from alleged threats emanating from Washington, Beijing and Moscow.
After the idea was endorsed by Merkel, Berlin and Paris agreed on creating a joint aircraft and combat system, inviting other European states to join the project.