Brussels (AP) – NATO is about a year after French President Emmanuel Macron’s biting criticism is on the verge of launching a difficult reform debate.
According to information from alliance circles, a group of experts appointed by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to consult with foreign ministers presented harmless proposals and some explosive ideas on Tuesday. According to data from dpa, this includes the recommendation to make it more difficult for individual member states to block alliance decisions.
That is why it is also proposed to invite the heads of state or government of EU states without NATO membership to roundtable discussions on the sidelines of the NATO summit and to devote significantly more to the dangers that could arise from China.
To strengthen political cooperation within the alliance, the panel of experts recommends holding more high-level discussions – and organizing them not only at NATO headquarters in Brussels, but also in member states. For example, additional meetings of foreign ministers could be planned and meetings of interior ministers on terrorism could be organized.
It is now highly unlikely that all proposals can be implemented. For example, the proposal for higher blockage barriers is unlikely to receive approval from allies such as Turkey and Hungary. Hungary has been using the currently straightforward veto rights since 2017 to prevent the NATO-Ukraine Commission from meeting at the highest level over a dispute with Ukraine. Turkey has previously, out of annoyance at critical statements made by Austrian politicians about Turkey, forced to limit NATO’s cooperation with Austria. The Alpine Republic itself is not part of the alliance.
Due to the current tensions between Turkey and the EU, it is also considered unrealistic for the Ankara government to give the necessary approval for an extension of NATO-EU cooperation. In Great Britain, too close links between NATO and the EU are viewed rather critically, according to information from the Dpa.
The NATO expert committee was established in the spring on the initiative of the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD). Earlier, French President Macron had boldly stated that the alliance was ‘brain dead’. Macron especially wanted to denounce the lack of coordination between NATO partners in important decisions about security policy. A negative example for him was, for example, Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria, which had not been agreed within NATO and was only made possible by the withdrawal of American soldiers from the area, which was also not agreed.
The recommendations of the panel of experts, circulated within the alliance on Wednesday, will be discussed for the first time at a high political level next Tuesday via a video link from the foreign ministers. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg then wants to develop a concrete action plan with the member states. The goal is to complete work by the next NATO summit. According to current plans, it could take place in the second quarter of next year and also serve as a kind of introductory meeting with future US President Joe Biden.
Germany was represented on the 10-person committee of experts by former Defense and Internal Affairs Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU). As co-chair, he led the group’s work with former US diplomat Wess Mitchell. France sent former Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine to the committee.
NATO headquarters declined to comment on the recommendations on Wednesday evening. It only confirmed that the report had been handed over to the expert group. A publication should therefore only take place after the official presentation at the meeting of the foreign ministers next week. Delegations from Member States initially declined to comment as well. It’s important to have an open internal discussion first, several allies said.