Macron describes Nato as "brain dead"

French President Emmanuel Macron caused a stir with an interview published by The Economist on Thursday in which he stated that the world is witnessing Nato's "brain death". He said that the Alliance lacked a consensus on strategic decisions and described the behaviour of Nato member Turkey as "uncoordinated and aggressive". This prompts commentators from Eastern European Nato states to doubt France's reliability as a partner.

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Polityka (PL) /

Can Paris still be trusted?

Statements like Macron's only do more damage to the Alliance, Polityka criticises:

“Despite all its divisions, the alliance is the Western world's only defence mechanism, and from time to time it shows with a joint and concertated effort that it is prepared for defence. When France undermines these facts, one must question its intentions, and this raises concern about whether it will fulfil its obligations when push comes to shove. ... What comes next is deep confusion. Nato countries in the east, which feel the Russian threat more than France, will ally themselves even more closely with Washington because they have no alternative and they fear the negative repercussions of the Alliance's announced end.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

The West looks very different from Estonia

The daily paper Eesti Päevaleht quotes Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, who contradicts Macron's position:

“This point of view in no way represents Nato's true development. For us, this development is symbolised particularly well by the presence of French soldiers in Estonia in the context of collective defence. The defence budgets of the EU member states and Canada have been growing for the past five years. It's in Estonia's interest to further strengthen cooperation on European defence policy and hence to support Nato without duplicating it. Maintaining and expanding transatlantic relations are among the tasks that must be performed by all partners, given that all partners benefit from this.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

A long time since the Alliance was this strong

Macron's criticism of Trump sounds convincing but Trump should not be equated with the US as a whole, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments:

“Paradoxically, in the past three years the US has invested more and more billions of dollars in bolstering the allies security on Europe's eastern flank. The American troops haven't left Europe - they've returned. Next year roughly 20,000 soldiers will cross the Atlantic to take part in a major military exercise in Europe. We haven't seen this kind of mobilisation in a quarter of a century. This is not thanks to Trump but thanks to the will of the US Congress to stand by Europe as the country's closest ally.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Bull in a china shop

Macron is behaving insensitively - and not for the first time, Dagens Nyheter complains:

“In fact it's a good thing that Macron wants to shoulder responsibility. But when he tried to involve Merkel in a federalist experiment with a fiscal Union and a joint Eurozone budget he went off track. The president made all kind of demands and then ignored all the objections. His foreign policy offensive is similar and is provoking the same irritated reactions. He wants to let Russia come in from the cold despite Putin's war against Ukraine. He alone is against Brexit postponement. He blocks the EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. And although his first candidate for the EU Commission failed, he is still insisting on a top post for France that allows it to control industrial policy according to its preferences.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Where is Angela Merkel?

French President Emmanuel Macron is the only one in Europe to present himself as a potential leader, complains Michel Kerres in his column with NRC Handelsblad:

“Because Chancellor Merkel is shining by her absence, the new EU Commission is still not up and running and British Prime Minister Johnson is in election campaign mode, there's plenty of room for French President Macron - and he's happy to make the most of it. ... Europe is on the cliff's edge, Macron says. If Europe doesn't quickly establish itself as a geopolitical force it will lose control of its own destiny. Macron is not afraid to reach dramatic conclusions, but what does he actually achieve with this? ... If Macron wants to accomplish anything in Europe and in Europe's name, he must forge European coalitions. But for that there must be powerful partners who want to join the effort. Mrs. Merkel?”