French president targets Turkey during talks with NATO chief 

French president targets Turkey during talks with NATO chief 

Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron had blunt talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg during his France visit. ‘France is keen on reviving relations with NATO. However, NATO needs to clarify its priorities. NATO needs to be well aware of its values, principles and norms,’ said the French president. President Macron appears to have issued the warning to Turkey, which is violating NATO rules.  

The warning from France, a key member, assumes much significance for NATO. Two years ago, President Macron referred to NATO as a ‘brain dead’ alliance. Macron’s remarks stirred up a storm within NATO member states. The United States, Germany and the UK, the leading members of the coalition, had expressed strong resentment towards Macron’s remarks. France had then criticized Turkey’s actions, which is a NATO member. Since then, relations between NATO and France have been strained.  

Against this background, the visit of the NATO Secretary-General to France is significant. In his statement, Secretary-General Stoltenberg praised France’s participation in NATO. “France’s military units, defence capabilities and investments in defence are important for NATO,” Stoltenberg said. At the same time, Stoltenberg said France’s cooperation in operations in Estonia, the Baltic Sea and the fight against terrorism, is essential.  

But even as NATO Secretary-General appreciated France’s contribution, Macron began relaunching criticism. Macron said although France wanted to strengthen its relationship with NATO, it needed an explanation from the alliance. ‘It is important for NATO to clarify its definite stance and strategic priorities at the political level at the upcoming meetings. We should attempt to promote cohesion within NATO at the meeting,’ said Macron.  

At the time, French President Macron condemned Turkey without a direct mention. We need to be clear among ourselves about the values, principles and the rules that underpin our Alliance, Macron sternly said. Despite being a NATO member, Turkey has taken a stand against the alliance on issues concerning Greece, Syria, Libya and the S-400 system. Despite repeated warnings, Turkey had refused to change its stance. France has taken an aggressive stance on the matter, and Macron’s criticism is directed at it.  

Meanwhile, France’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Francois Lecointre, has stated that France should avoid being dragged into rising tensions between the US and China. “In the future, the international arena will revolve around the conflict between the US and China, and other countries will be forced to pick a side. France and the European countries are not interested in getting involved,” General Lecointre said in an interview with a daily. The French General said the matter was unrelated to France’s cooperation with the United States.