'The EU Cannot Defend Europe': NATO Chief
Bruges, Belgium, March 4 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 5th Mar, 2021 ) :NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Thursday that Europe's defence depends on close transatlantic bonds and not on a quest for the continent's strategic autonomy.
But he was dubious about calls for the continent to develop "strategic autonomy" of the kind championed by France's President Emmanuel Macron.
"I support EU efforts on defence, because more defence spending, new military capabilities and addressing the fragmentation of the European defence industry -- all of that will be good for European security, for transatlantic security, for all of us," he told AFP.
"So all these efforts -- as long as they complement NATO -- we welcome them, but the EU cannot defend Europe." - Still 'pertinent'? - "More than 90 percent of the people in the European Union, they live in a NATO country. But only 20 percent of NATO's defence spending comes from NATO EU members," Stoltenberg said.
Under the previous US president, Donald Trump, transatlantic ties frayed.
Trump repeatedly accused the European allies of not pulling their weight, and Macron in turn accused NATO of failing to adapt to Europe's security priorities-- famously branding its strategy as "brain dead".
Macron told the Financial Times last month: "I am a defender of European sovereignty, of strategic autonomy, not because I'm against NATO or because I doubt our American friends, but because I am lucid on the state of the world.
But Stoltenberg says NATO still faces many other foes.
"Because I don't believe that any country or any continent alone can manage the security challenges we face today." - Weaken the link - In geographic terms, he points out, the European Union's flanks are defended in the north Atlantic from Russian encroachment by non-EU members the US, Canada and the UK.
In the southeast, non-EU member Turkey -- often criticised as a threat to stability by Paris and Athens -- sits on the borders with Syria and Iraq and is "extremely important in the fight against Daesh (the Islamic State group), international terrorism."US President Joe Biden, expected to attend a NATO alliance leaders' summit later this year, is seen as wanting to keep pushing European members to meet their defence spending commitments -- as Trump did.