“NATO lives – from head to toe”: Heiko Maas’s defends the alliance over Macron’s remarks
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas rejected the harsh criticism of the French President on the state of the North Atlantic Alliance on Tuesday. “NATO is alive – from head to toe,” Maas said at the opening of the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum. Emmanuel Macron had questioned the future of the defense alliance in an interview in early November.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg had also rejected Macron’s statement. It was even reported that Merkel and Macron had a genuine argument over Macron’s words. The Chancellor, it was said, understood Macron’s “need for disruptive politics”, however, she was tired of picking up the pieces.
Government spokesman Seibert refused to comment on the conversation between Macron and Merkel. In principle, one does not report from confidential discussions, says Seibert. However, the Chancellor was not remembering any dispute, according to Seibert.
Maas resumed the vocabulary from the report on the meeting between Macron and Merkel on Tuesday. Germany’s foreign policy was not disruptive. Instead, the government had steered an “almost toxic debate” into orderly paths. Maas had proposed to fundamentally reform the Alliance at the meeting of NATO foreign ministers the previous week. The proposal, which has been agreed within Germany’s government, provides for a group of experts chaired by Stoltenberg to draw up appropriate proposals within one year.
However, the proposal was not only an attempt to build a counterpoint to the confrontational attitude of Macron. Although Germany rejected the French President’s harsh words, Paris and Berlin in many ways were sharing a concern for the state of the Alliance; be it in terms of cooperation with the United States or the state of the European armed forces, Maas emphasized.
Nonetheless, any efforts from Europe to become more independent from the United States in terms of military means were rejected by Maas. A “decoupling” was out of the question, as “without America, Europe simply would not be able to defend itself.”
Meanwhile, Norway’s Foreign Minister Eriksen Søreide, referring to Macron, campaigned for greater commitment to the preservation of international organizations. “Multilateralism is not dead. It is not brain dead.” However, one should not take it for granted anymore. At the center of NATO stood the willingness to use the lives of their own soldiers for the other members of the Alliance as well. As far as Norway’s security is concerned, there were obvious great hopes for Berlin: “Germany is our closest friend and ally in Europe,” Søreide concluded.