The NATO leaders’ meeting in Britain this week has the potential to be “derailed by a triple threat” from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump, a former chief of the alliance has said.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary general and former Prime Minister of Denmark, said the gathering was set to be a “very risky meeting” of the 29 allied heads of state.
In an interview with The Times newspaper on Dec. 2, Rasmussen said that Trump could criticize the NATO countries about their contributions to the collective defense budget. Only nine members meet the alliance obligation to spend a minimum of 2 percent of GDP on defense, though the total has risen from four in 2016.
Macron could use the meeting as a platform to repeat remarks about the alliance being “brain dead,” according to Rasmussen.
And as for Erdoğan, Rasmussen said: “And the third threat, of course, is that President Erdoğan continues to test NATO unity,” he said. Turkey has been widely criticized for buying the S-400 air missile defense systems from Russia.
NATO leaders will gather in London to mark the alliance’s 70th anniversary on Dec. 3 and 4.
Rasmussen said that there are “internal political splits” within NATO. “Militarily NATO is stronger than at any time since the Cold War, but politically NATO is weaker,” he said.
Rasmussen's comments came after Macron drew a sharp rebuke from Turkey over his remarks that the 70-year old military alliance of 29 countries was experiencing “brain death.” Erdoğan responded by saying Macron should check whether he himself was “brain dead.”
Afterwards, on Nov. 29, the French government summoned the Turkish ambassador to seek explanations. The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ambassador İsmail Hakkı Musa was summoned to explain “unacceptable statements ... that have no place in Turkish-French relations and cannot substitute for the necessary dialogue between the two countries.”
NATO leaders should deliver a tough message to Erdoğan: Financial Times
Meanwhile, Financial Times newspaper penned an article prior to the NATO summit with the title of “NATO needs to reassert its common purpose.” The NATO leaders' meeting “should aim to strengthen the alliance by reasserting the need for the 29 members to treat each other as trusted friends — with a common understanding of the threats they face,” the article said.
The article has also criticized the Turkish government for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, urging the alliance to “deliver a tough and united message” to Erdoğan.
“Erdoğan government’s behavior is now so erratic that some critics have suggested it should be chucked out of NATO. Yet expelling Turkey from the western alliance would be a drastic step that would delight the west’s adversaries. Russia, in particular, has long sought to break up NATO and to draw Turkey into its orbit. A better course would be for the NATO allies to use this week’s summit to deliver a tough and united message to President Erdoğan — reminding the Turkish leader that alliance solidarity flows in both directions."
“Turkey cannot expect to call upon the automatic support of its allies if it continues to take far-reaching decisions without consulting them," the article further said.