President hails talks with NATO leader

NATO – Joint statement by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Mr Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – Statements by M. Macron (excerpt)

Paris, 21 May 2021


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I wanted to thank the Secretary General, cher Jens, for choosing Paris for the first stage of the consultations he’s holding in preparation for the NATO summit to be held on 14 June, which is central to an international series of meetings that will be absolutely key in shaping our strategic equilibrium, following the G7 and ahead of a summit between the United States and the European Union.

As always, the Secretary General and I talked in a very frank and friendly way about our expectations of the summit, on which we’ll also be having in-depth discussions with our European partners next week. We want to revitalize the Atlantic Alliance, and to that end we need clarification, consistency and responsibility.

Firstly, the summit must provide an opportunity for political clarification about the role and strategic priorities we give the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I noted this myself a few years ago: it’s about rethinking the Alliance’s role, missions and rules. A [strategic] reflexion was carried out, initiated at the London summit in December 2019. A report by the Wise Men Group was submitted in November 2020. Our strategic concept today actually dates from 2010. It’s been profoundly shaken up by the deep, lasting changes in the international situation that have been happening increasingly quickly in the past 10 years, and it must be adapted between now and next year.

I really want to thank the Secretary General and his teams for all the work that’s also been done in preparation for this, and in order for the Secretary General to have a clear and precise mandate direct and in-depth discussions are necessary between allies at heads of State and government level, and for me that’s also one of the goals of the coming weeks.

Secondly, the summit must provide an opportunity to strengthen cohesion within the Atlantic Alliance, which means us all being clear about the values, principles and rules underpinning our alliance. Indeed, solidarity between allies isn’t just a flexible term. It involves duties and responsibilities between the various parties. It involves each of the allies pledging to comply with international law and clear rules of conduct. And I know, Mr Secretary General, that those are the values you uphold. Among other things, it means not pursuing national interests that are contradictory with the other allies’ security interests, as may sometimes have been the case in recent years in Syria, the eastern Mediterranean, Libya and the Caucasus, and in terms of interoperability on arms systems, which is absolutely critical within NATO.

Thirdly, the Alliance’s credibility depends on the responsibility of the allies. Our allies know France is a credible ally. Our defence effort has continued despite the pandemic. We achieved 2% of GDP in 2020. We’re implementing our nuclear deterrence, which contributes to the whole Alliance’s deterrence. We have capable, interoperable forces right across the spectrum and in new domains of conflict. Our armed forces are combating terrorism in both the Sahel and the Levant, and we participate in NATO’s forward presence in Estonia.

So this is a time not for diluting our efforts but for everyone to show responsibility and cooperation. In this regard, and a few months ahead of our European Union presidency, I told the Secretary General how closely I’ll be focusing on full recognition of European defence efforts. The initiatives taken by the European Union over recent years – whether they be the European Defence Fund or Permanent Structured Cooperation – are no longer the subject of debate. I welcome this, because they provide added value, and we must continue working in this regard.

In this respect, I note with satisfaction the new American administrations’s statements on this. European sovereignty is a project of responsibility that strengthens the Alliance. And I know some people still want to see things in terms of competition or a zero-sum game. I believe this mindset is outdated. And the efforts the Europeans are making add to our American allies’ efforts.

We need to rebuild strategic stability in Europe, given the crumbling of the security architecture established following the Cold War, in particular when it comes to arms control. We talked about this, and I really do hope very much that the Alliance will be the place for this coordination and this discussion. Obviously I welcome the fact that the United States and Russia have been able to resume contact on these issues and extend the New START treaty by five years. But in a world that is rearming at high speed, in which power relationships are changing, we need an appropriate new framework.

The Europeans must play their full role in defining it, because we’re the first to be exposed. And NATO is a useful platform for discussing these issues. We’ll talk about them at the next summit, and we’ll continue to do so in the long term. Those are the few issues I wanted to share with you after the extremely substantive, friendly, challenging discussion I had with the Secretary General. (…)

Published on 25/05/2021

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