The French President confirmed his reputation as the main freethinker in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A year ago he stated the death of the brain of NATO and now he said that the alliance continues to fight against the Treaty of Warsaw, although it hasn’t existed for a long time and thus it splits Europe. Why is Macron repeating Putin’s theses almost word for word, and how long will the allies endure such tricks of France?
Emmanuel Macron on February 19, 2021 said that NATO in its current format is irrelevant. The French President is convinced that the alliance needs to be rethought, as the Treaty of Warsaw, which NATO was supposed to oppose, fell apart long ago.
“Sometimes we try to fight against an ideology or organization that no longer exists with the geopolitical logic that no longer exists and continues to split Europe”, – the British Financial Times quoted Macron as saying.
However, the speech of Macron cannot be named unambiguously “pro-Moscow”. So, the French leader reproached both Russia and the West for the fact that neither party allegedly “had digested the end of communism”. Besides, he criticized the activities of the UN Security Council, which, in his words, “no longer work” as a means of resolving major regional conflicts. Macron even called the permanent members of UN Security Council “crazy”, as those “made it possible to replace it with competing regional formats”. A “revitalized” council could be a way to avoid escalating tensions between the USA and China, Macron hopes.
In any case, it is remarkable that the French leader almost word for word repeated one of the speech of his Russian colleges – Vladimir Putin, who also noted that NATO’s outdated block stereotypes of thinking “cannot be a great way for finding and making effective decisions” in a rapidly changing world. “Now, as it is known, there is no Soviet Union. There is also no the Treaty of Warsaw, that is a military pact which was created in response to the creation of NATO, and NATO not only exists, but is also developing” – Putin said at the end of 2019.
The Treaty of Warsaw was signed in 1955 by the USSR, the GDR, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. The treaty was concluded in response to the FRG’s accession to NATO, created back in 1949. Exactly 30 years ago, in February 1991, this union announced its self-dissolution. By now all countries – former allies of the USSR under this treaty – have joined the NATO bloc.
If we compare the rhetoric of the presidents of France and Russia, then there are certain parallels between them. The positions of Macron and Putin in critics of NATO are identical enough. But the Russian President has never been so harsh about the UN’s role. As we know, Emmanuel Macron proposes a reform of UN Security Council to restrict the using of veto.
Macron represents a new generation of European politicians and qualifies for a certain leadership if not in the West as a whole, then at least in the European Union. He is young enough and seeks to show that he is shaping a new agenda, while Biden, Borrell or Guterres are representatives of the outgoing course.This explains Macron’s regular attacks on NATO. However, that position is quite traditional for France, as well as a desire to propose non-standart projects of the future world order like “Greater Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
At the same time, Macron has nothing to boast of in the internal policy: there are acute social tensions in France and economic crisis. In such conditions, the foreign policy is an attempt to at least somehow compensate for the failures in the country.
The methods of the Cold War against the USSR have been condemned in France since the days of President Charles de Gaulle. Macron, who previously spoke about “the brain death of NATO”, in this case, repeats the theses of his predecessors – in particular, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Paris has always seen Europe as an equal partner of USA, not a vassal of the States.
At his time, he headed the movement for Western Europe to become NATO’s shock tip itself, to develop concepts for the security of the continent, for relations with Moscow.
This concept includes reliance on the independent military-political resources and geopolitical vision. In the basis of this Europe, as a power, there should be a Franco-Germanic union. From an economic point of view, this idea supposes an increase in Europe’s own defense spending. France has already had its own groundwork for the creation of pan-European military funds and weapons. Paris launches the idea of the so-called intervention initiative – the program of interoperability of the armed forces of the European Union countries.
But in practical terms, such ideas so far sound just like Macron’s “wishes”. Most likely, Paris will have nothing for these wishes the new president Joe Biden. Washington and Brussels understand that the French does not dispute the supremacy of NATO’s authority. Paris wants to reform NATO, not to disband the alliance.
Macron’s selfish opposition causes active criticism, including within the European Union. Many Baltic or Central European countries grumble that Macron is not authorized to speak on behalf of the entire EU and that his ideas about Russia are very doubtful – and they had none of it. There are elements of sabotage within France itself, for example, in French MFA. Such statements by Macron do not make sense in the framework of the European Union – and so there is a great gap between declaration and practical steps. Because of this, many perceive Macron as a populist, as most of his proposals are not implemented.
This is not the first time Macron has spoken out harshly about the headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance. In 2019, he announced the “brain death” of this bloc and required to change the Treaty on European Union, in order to make the community more independent from NATO in defense matters. “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO. We have no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the United States and its allies. We have an uncoordinated aggressive action by another ally, Turkey, in an area where our interests are at stake”, – Macron complained then.
Statement of the French leader in the Financial Times appeared a few hours before the Munich Security Conference, which took place online this year.
Predictably, US President Joe Biden delivered a speech at the conference that fundamentally diverged from Macron’s theses.
“I tell everyone: America is back! The Transatlantic Alliance is back and we are not looking backward”, – America’s leader announced, assuring that the USA will remain fully committed to NATO. Having said that, Biden accused Russia of seeking to weaken both this military bloc and the “European project”, and called the territorial integrity of Ukraine a “vitally important matter” for Europe, as well as for the USA.
According to Biden’s and his associates’ theses, NATO does not need reform – this military bloc just needs to be strengthened. So, a day earlier, the chief of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin called on the allies to boost defense spending, in order to “counteract Moscow and Beijing”.
In turn, the Secretary General of Alliance Jens Stoltenberg required updating the strategic concept of NATO, accepted in 2010, as “the situation has changed” and the document does not take into account the rise of China and the deterioration in relations with Russia. “I believe in the necessity to send a clear signal to Russia: if they want clashes, we are ready”, – Stoltenberg said.
Macron himself, speaking at the conference after Biden, stubbornly urged the allies to find a common language with Moscow. “The architecture of the common security is also a dialogue with Russia”, – the French leader said, making a reservation, that such dialogue should be demanding. “But it is a key to peace on the European continent”.