France's Macron defends North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 'brain death' remarks

Macron Says'Brain Death Comment May Have Been'Wake-Up Call Needed by NATO                REUTERS  Bertrand Guay  Pool

Macron Says'Brain Death Comment May Have Been'Wake-Up Call Needed by NATO REUTERS Bertrand Guay Pool

"I'm glad it was delivered, and I'm glad everyone now thinks we should rather think about our strategic goals", Macron told a joint news conference with Stoltenberg. Both Macron and Stoltenberg said the alliance should look toward redefining its objective and its ultimate goals, including looking toward tackling a common enemy - terrorism.

"What we are now experiencing is the brain death of NATO", Macron had told The Economist magazine.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu dismissed the French leader's criticism and accused him of being a "sponsor of terrorism".

A senior French diplomat involved in discussions said: "We are trying to channel the electric shock produced by Mr Macron's comments to structure a political debate".

"NATO is a collective defense alliance", Macron said. I don't think so.

In a controversial move, he suggested talks with Moscow over its call for a moratorium on deploying mid-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

He said this includes Europe being involved in a new pact limiting mid-range nuclear missiles held by the U.S. and Russian Federation, after the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty collapsed in August.

"So as soon as you have a member who feels they have a right to head off on their own, granted by the United States of America, they do it", Macron had said, referring to Turkey's military offensive into Syria following the troop withdrawal.

In an announcement Thursday, Stoltenberg said the allies have agreed to reformulate NATO's relatively small in-house budget and that Washington would now pay less.

Macron angered Ankara last month by hosting an official from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Turkey considers the YPG as a terrorist group and has been infuriated by the supports its allies have given the group.

Stoltenberg said that "in uncertain times, we need strong multilateral institutions like North Atlantic Treaty Organisation". And on Thursday, he reiterated criticism of Turkey's operation in northeast Syria against Kurdish fighters who were crucial in the global fight against IS extremists.

Trump in turn has repeatedly accused European NATO members of freeloading on the USA by falling short of their commitment to spend at least two percent of GDP on defence. "So now the US and Germany will pay the same, roughly 16 percent of NATO's budget", he said.

"It is correct" that the American-driven emphasis on more balanced cost-sharing should be implemented, Stoltenberg said.

"If anyone wants to see what they call cost-sharing, they can come to the ceremony that France is organising on Monday", he said.

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