Merkel slams Macron for calling North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 'brain dead'

Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Sunday, Macron's office said on Thursday.

The meeting will be an occasion to "reflect on the legacy of 1989 and the meaning of the European project, highlighting the importance of the Franco-German couple", it said.

In an interview with British weekly The Economist, Emmanuel Macron expressed doubt about US -led NATO's security maxim that an attack on one ally is an attack on all, which has underpinned transatlantic ties since the alliance's 1949 foundation.

But in Thursday's interview he appeared to go further, calling for a wholesale change in Europe's security architecture, in which NATO's future role was unclear.

Asked whether he still believed in the "collective defence" stipulations of article five of Nato's founding treaty, under which an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies, Macron answered: "I don't know". And his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement particularly annoyed Mr Macron.

The move caught Nato's leading European powers - Britain, France and Germany - by surprise and paved the way for Turkey to launch a cross-border military operation targeting Syrian Kurdish forces.

He says President Donald Trump "doesn't share our idea of the European project" and that the USA shows signs of "turning its back on us", notably by unexpectedly pulling its troops out of northern Syria.

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However, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier praised the contribution of Washington to Europe's security at an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Thursday.

The European allies fear the US withdrawal from northeastern Syria will cause a security vacuum that can be exploited by Islamist militants.

He warned European members that they could no longer rely on the United States to defend the alliance established at the beginning of the Cold War to strengthen the security of Western Europe and the United States. A security system built around a benign and fully engaged USA after World War II was "changing its underlying philosophy", he said.

In an early sign of how the French president would like to see an autonomous European foreign policy change priorities, he has called for re-engagement with Russian Federation, still under EU sanctions for its annexation of Crimea and military support for insurgents in Eastern Ukraine.

"He's quite close to our views and has a key intellectual and political role" in central Europe, said Macron.

-With assistance from Patrick Donahue.

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