French President Macron says NATO experiencing 'brain death'

French President Emmanuel Macron meets French and German business leaders in Shanghai

"Things that were unthinkable five years ago - to be wearing ourselves out over Brexit, to have Europe finding it so hard to move forward, to have an American ally turning its back on us so quickly on strategic issues - nobody would have believed this possible".

"What we are now experiencing is the brain death of NATO", Macron was quoted as saying in an interview with British weekly The Economist, published on Thursday (7 November).

He said the United States under President Donald Trump appears to be "turning its back on us", notably by pulling troops out of northeast Syria without notice.

Mr Stoltenberg said in reference to the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling: "The reunification of Germany and Europe would have been impossible without the United States's security guarantee".

President Trump has criticised other NATO members during his political campaign and presidency for failing to pay their fair share of defence spending to sustain the organisation, with the United States of America funding some 70 per cent of the security alliance. "Europe can and should do more", Prime Minister Rutte said.

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But he said the European Union had been brought "to the edge of a precipice" by a dwindling focus since the mid-1990s on the bloc's political integration.

The president's explosive comments, appearing to question the very future of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, threatened to send shock waves through the alliance ahead of a summit in Britain next month. And his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement particularly annoyed Mr Macron. Time to wake up, the French president tells The Economist.

Also in October, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had warned the military alliance should not lose its unity in the fight against Daesh (IS), in light of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria.

"Europe has forgotten that it is a community, by increasingly thinking of itself as a market, with expansion as its end objective", said Macron, who recently blocked expanding the European Union to include North Macedonia and Albania.

While missing its 2024 target, defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer assured allies: "NATO is and will remain the anchor of European security". Failing to do so, Mr Macron said, would be a "huge mistake".

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