Macron: We hope for greater involvement by our allies in the Sahel process

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — French President Emmanuel Macron met Thursday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to resolve “differences” after comments by the French president about a “brain death” of NATO.

After the meeting, Macron pointed out at a joint press conference with Stoltenberg that the term “clinical death” he used to describe the NATO situation was a bell to awaken alliance members.

On the other hand, Macron stressed that France is considering all strategic options related to its military presence in the Sahel , but he wants greater involvement by his allies in the region to fight terrorism.

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

Macron’s statement, which came ahead of a summit in Britain on Dec. 4, has provoked a strong backlash from his European counterparts who believe Europe still needs to rely heavily on NATO to defend itself. Macron’s criticism of NATO came in an interview published in The Economist on November 7, when he considered the alliance in a state of “brain death.”

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 a military offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria backed by Western anti-jihadist forces.

“Europe cannot defend itself alone”

Macron is expected to meet other leaders before the summit, according to the French 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.

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

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.”

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