Macron receives Stoltenberg after his criticism of NATO

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will meet in Elysee on Thursday to resolve “differences” after French President Jacques Chirac’s comments on the “brain death” of the alliance next week in London.

The French presidency said Macron would receive the Norwegian official “to prepare for the NATO summit and ensure its success.”

After their meeting, which is expected to last for about an hour, the two men make statements to the press that are expected to be closely monitored after Macron’s earlier statements raised concern among the 29 NATO members.

Macron announced on November 7 that NATO was in a “brain death” in an interview published by The Economist.

He made the remarks in response to a decision by two NATO countries here, the United States and Turkey, the first to withdraw its troops from Syria without informing the Allies and the second to launch its military demolition against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria backed by Western anti-jihadist forces.

“There is no coordination of the US strategic decision with its NATO partners, and we are seeing aggression from another NATO partner, Turkey, in an area where our interests are at stake, without coordination,” he said.

Washington and Ankara criticized the statement as well as Germany, Britain and Eastern European countries.

Stoltenberg said he was coming to meet Macron “to better understand his message and the reasons behind” his criticism. “When we have differences, the best thing is to talk about them.”

– “electric shock” –

Elysee said the talks between the two men would “best deal with the main issues at stake in the current NATO debate: consolidating the unity of the alliance, coordinating the actions of the allies, respecting the fundamental commitments of the Washington Treaty (the founding of the alliance) and holding the Europeans their responsibilities within the alliance.”

Macron is expected to meet other leaders before the summit, according to the presidency. He will also hold bilateral meetings upon his arrival in London, where US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also be present.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday defended NATO, which has guaranteed “freedom and peace” for 70 years thanks to “our American friends.” “Europe cannot now defend itself alone,” she told German lawmakers. “It is important that we take on more responsibilities.”

In an effort to calm the situation, Paris and Berlin on 20 January proposed setting up a committee of experts to strengthen the political process within the alliance.

For her part, the new president of the European Commission Ursula von Der Line on Wednesday that “there is no competition” between the European Union and NATO, but “complement each other.”

In Paris, it was stressed that Macron’s conclusion was “widely supported” and that the debate was launched “to make the Europeans take more responsibility.”

“What provoked reactions was in particular the style and form” of the French president’s remarks, which sought to create an “electric shock,” a diplomatic source said.

But Jorge Benitez, a NATO expert at the Atlantic Council, said the Macron initiative was “counterproductive.” “He should call for a stronger Europe within a stronger NATO,” instead of “sacrificing NATO’s unity for the distant dream of an independent Europe led by France.”

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