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Reassured by Joe Biden’s desire to reconnect with the Alliance, NATO members hope to find a form of cohesion in Brussels on Monday. However, two subjects raise tensions: defense financing and China.
Turn the page on Trumpism and open a new chapter. The NATO members meet on Monday June 14 in Brussels in the presence of Joe Biden who has shown the desire to “revitalize” the alliances. But the strategic reorientation desired by the Americans arouses the mistrust of certain European states.
Two sticking points emerge: defense financing and China. “There are convergences and divergences”, recognizes the secretary general of the Alliance, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg. He visited Washington a week ago to finalize the summit declaration and echoed the US focus on China.
“We note that Russia and China are cooperating more and more lately, both politically and militarily. This is a new dimension and a serious challenge for NATO,” he said. he explained in an interview with the German daily Die Welt before the summit.
Joe Biden hoped that “the security challenge posed by China appears in the statement,” said the White House. Some allies resented. “The heart of NATO is the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. Now is not the time to dilute the effort,” maintains the Élysée.
“The language about China will not be inflammatory. It will be clear, direct and straightforward,” US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.
A weakened Alliance
The summit begins Monday at 1:00 p.m. (11:00 a.m. GMT) and will last for three hours. It will launch the review of the Alliance’s strategic concept adopted in 2010 in order to prepare it to face new threats in space and cyberspace. But NATO must also heal the wounds opened by Donald Trump. The withdrawal from Afghanistan, decided without consultation with the Allies, has undermined the credibility of the Alliance’s external operations.
Europe has also become more vulnerable following the withdrawal of the United States from several treaties concluded with Moscow on the control of nuclear forces. Finally, Donald Trump’s mistrust of Europeans has scalded the Old Continent. And his refusal to remind Turkey of its duties has exacerbated tensions with the EU.
Faced with this finding of weakening, Emmanuel Macron had judged the Alliance “in a state of brain death”. “NATO must build a rule of conduct between allies”, supported the French president on the eve of the summit.
On this subject, Joe Biden must meet face to face with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the American president must spare the susceptibility of the Turkish ally, ready to assume the security of the Kabul airport, essential to maintaining a Western presence in Afghanistan.
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China and defense financing
Russia will remain “the number one priority”. But the members of the Alliance are also called upon to fight against “Chinese Trojans”, notes Alessandro Marrone in an analysis published by the Istituto Affari Internazionali.
“It is not a question of moving NATO to Asia, but of taking into account the fact that China is approaching us and that it is trying to control strategic infrastructures,” Jens Stoltenberg told AFP. . “The Alliance must consult more and invest better”, pleads the Norwegian.
Europeans say they are ready. But they want “full recognition” of their contribution to collective security and ask to be associated with negotiations on arms control, warns the Elysee.
“Biden will be more open to the development of defense Europe, but it will not be free. The Americans will be more demanding, when the time comes, for Europeans to align with their own priorities in Asia and the Pacific.” , believes the MEP Arnaud Danjean, specialist in defense issues.
Europeans still need to be judged “reliable”. Twenty-one EU countries are NATO members, but only eight are committed to spending 2% of their GDP on military spending. France is among the number but not Germany, nor Italy, nor Spain.
Berlin welcomed Jens Stoltenberg’s proposal to endow the Alliance with common means “to spend more and better”. But Paris is against it. However, unanimity is imperative for decisions within the Alliance.