Syria, fighting against terrorism, trade, the European nuclear deterrent, and even NATO’s role – Trump and Macron seem to disagree on everything. To all this is added a deep dispute between Emmanuel Macron, many other European leaders on the one hand and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the other hand. The two leaders accuse each other of supporting terrorist groups in the Levant.
All this suggests that NATO is close to death. However, Emmanuel Dupuy explains that this is the wrong impression. Today, more than ever before, the alliance is determined to live and even strengthen its position despite these annoying incidents.
Sputnik: What do you think about yesterday’s meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump? Can they be considered allies when they have such strong disagreements on such important issues?
Emmanuel Dupuy: I don’t think it is necessary to over-interpret the remarks made by the two presidents during that press conference. By the way, it’s not the first time that they have such bitter and sweet talks. The problematic issues are well-known: the trade war and diverging visions of NATO, which, nevertheless, are not so deep.
So I think the words are not very important since the two presidents have already moved away from each other, especially after the G7 Biarritz Summit. This is part of the relationship that is no longer just that of allies, but also of adversaries. The two countries are still allies from a military point of view, but are economically competitive; so we’ll have to get used to the fact that the tone between the two shores of the Atlantic is more vigorous, and I dare say it’s a good thing.
Sputnik: Yet they disagree even on the most consensual topics, such as the fight against terrorism, and it even goes beyond rhetoric…
Emmanuel Dupuy: If your question is whether France will leave NATO, the answer is no. These are not statements that provoke this or that political decision. Trump and Macron have two different personalities, but they are alike in the sense that both make a show of politics. Especially since only two of 29 actors were present at this press conference.
On the other hand, what one can say is that President Macron is certainly likely to try to take advantage of the absence of Donald Trump, who’s entangled in impeachment proceedings in the United States. Emmanuel Macron wants to replace Donald Trump in this quest for leadership, on the one hand within the European Union, but especially within NATO. Perhaps this is how one can interpret his desire to reshuffle the cards and to raise a number of tough questions…
Sputnik: On Turkey, is it possible to maintain an alliance with a partner who accuses us of supporting terrorists and vice versa?
Emmanuel Dupuy: The alliance has 29 members, soon 30, so the tensions between two of the 29 member states cannot question the alliance itself. Indeed, there is an opposition between the Turks and the French President who says aloud what many member states think in a whisper. What he says is that the Turks play on several fronts and think they are allowed to ignore certain rules, not taking into account the presence of French, British and American Special Forces in the Levant on the one hand. This is problematic, but one cannot be excluded from the alliance because of it.
Sputnik: Speaking of nuclear deterrence in Europe, do you think that when Macron asks to "clarify" the situation, it’s a step towards the Russian proposal for a moratorium on short and medium-range nuclear weapons?
Emmanuel Dupuy: The Americans have the floor on the nuclear weapons issue. It is they who have chosen to leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, thus pushing Russia to withdraw from it, even though the treaty had been in place since 1987.
I believe that the question that Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders should ask in this situation is that of European defence and strategic autonomy since Europe is right between two super-nuclear powers. And this is what we’ll arrive at in 2027, with €13 billion allocated for creating tanks and planes of the future.
Sputnik: Is a more strategically autonomous Europe not a source of concern for Americans still anxious to keep their influence on Europeans, especially from a military point of view?
Emmanuel Dupuy: This is the paradox between the reality of American and French strategies and the theatrical aspect of the press conference between the two presidents. In the end, the two agree on the fact that they both want a greater strategic autonomy of the Europeans. This doesn’t mean that the ultimate goal would be for the United States to leave NATO, but for Europeans to become more accountable in their defence strategy. This requires the strengthening of the defence budget of each country. This is what Donald Trump is talking about – that each country puts the required money into the alliance.
Sputnik: For you, is the alliance still solid and relevant, despite differences of opinion?
Emmanuel Dupuy: Absolutely, especially since I think we are on the verge of a reconfiguration of the alliance’s strategy, which is starting to realise that the threat is not the same as it was sixty years ago. Today, the threat comes from the east and south, and we could add the cyberspace and space to that. There is also a convergence of interests in Central Asia, the Arctic and sub-Saharan Africa. This convergence of interests didn’t exist before, and that is why the alliance is more than required, although it hasn’t necessarily been solicited so far. Somehow, the Turkish President is right saying that the Alliance shouldn’t just focus its forces in the Baltic region, but take into account other threats, such as hybrid conflicts.