German Chancellor Angela Merkel said NATO is now equally or more important than it was during the Cold War, a praise being sang to a military bloc long without its arch-rival and with a history of interventions.
East Germany native Angela Merkel provided her very complimentary take as NATO braces to mark their 70th anniversary at a special summit in London. Keeping the military bloc in place 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,” the Chancellor told German MPs.
“Because, and the Foreign Minister [Heiko Maas] said yesterday, Europe currently cannot defend itself on its own,” she reiterated. Slightly contradicting her own words, the chancellor admitted that the US “no longer automatically takes up responsibility when it’s burning around us.”
As the formal etiquette prescribes, Merkel called NATO a “bulwark for peace and freedom” over the past 70 years, without highlighting the bloc’s war on former Yugoslavia and the 2011 bombardments of Libya.
The German leader has recently locked horns with France’s Emmanuel Macron over his famous “NATO’s brain death” remark that sent shockwaves through European elite circles. Macron’s “drastic words” were “unnecessary, even if we do have problems and must get it together,” Merkel complained at the time.
Rebuking Macron was also NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said last week that “European unity cannot replace Transatlantic unity as we need both … especially after Brexit.”
But bringing the 70-year-old alliance together is increasingly becoming a challenge for its members. On the latest occasion, Turkey – a country that has one of NATO’s largest standing armies – refused to sign a new defense plan for the eastern European countries, according to Reuters.
Turkey’s ambassador had been instructed not to sign off the plan – which has to be unanimously approved by all the NATO members – until it designates Syria’s People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists.
The growing disarray only adds to NATO’s other woes, including US President Donald Trump’s effort to make alliance members spend more on defense. Only seven out of NATO’s 29 members are currently spending at least two percent of their GDP on the military; while Poland and the Baltics are among them, Turkey is not.