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Macron seeks to replace Trump as NATO leader

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands after giving a press conference and holding a meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris on November 28, 2019. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
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PARIS – Emmanuel Dupuy, president of the European Perspective and Security Institute (IPSE), comments on the challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the friction between the French and US presidents.

On Tuesday, the summit of the organization took place in London , with a great reunion of the Member States: all were gathered and, despite the marked resentments and deep differences, were able to dialogue.

Relations between France and the United States

Although relations between the United States and France have a “great respect” for each other, as their own presidents claim, relations have been weakening over the last few years.

“When we talk about the enemy, I would say, what is the point? To protect our partners against external threats. France will and we will always be fully in solidarity with the states of eastern and northern Europe. But today, the common enemy is the groups. […] But I am sorry to say that we do not have the same definition of terrorism around the table,” Emmanuel Macron, president of France, told a news conference with his US counterpart.

The presidents of both countries have remarkably different views on trade, Syria, the fight against terrorism and even NATO’s role today. Macron even declared in November this year “the brain death” of the organization, which turns 70 years since its foundation.

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However, Emmanuel Dupuy interprets that the words used by the leaders do not have “considerable importance”, because the presidents already have positions clearly distant from each other. “Both countries are still allies in the military field, but they are competitors in the economic field , so we need to get used to the tone between the two sides of the Atlantic being more vigorous,” said the French analyst.

European security

Dupuy does not believe that France could leave the organization in the near future, “these are not words that will provoke a political decision.” For European security expert Macron seeks to occupy the leadership left by Donald Trump, he said: “Emmanuel Macron clearly wants to replace Donald Trump in his struggle for leadership, both within the European Union and, above all, NATO.”

When asked about the possibility of a strategically autonomous Europe, Dupuy notes that “the theatrical aspect of the press conference between the two presidents” does not mean that the United States will leave the Atlantic Alliance, but that “there is greater European accountability in the your defense strategy. This means an increase in each country’s defense budget, which is in line with the demands made by Donald Trump.”

The analyst believes the alliance is still pertinent and is undergoing a reconfiguration of the bloc’s strategy, which is beginning to realize that the nature of the threats facing member states has changed over the last 70 years since its founding. Today they “are on the southern and eastern flanks, but cyber and space security can also be added.”

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