Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Trump and Erdogan haunt Nato meeting

  • Kerry. The incoming administration has not yet named its new secretary of state (Photo: state.gov)

Donald Trump's administration will not abandon Nato, according to US secretary of state John Kerry, who says that the president-elect is already doing U-turns on other issues, such as immigration and climate.

“The United States commitment to Nato and to Article 5 transcends politics,” he said in Brussels on Tuesday (6 December), referring to the Nato pledge on mutual defence.

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  • Stoltenberg dismissed concerns on Italy and Turkey (Photo: nato.int)

“I can’t overstate the degree to which I am confident that the majority of both parties in the US - both major parties - are committed to Nato.”

Trump said in his election campaign that Nato was out of date, that he might not defend allies who did not spend more on their own military, and that he wanted to make friends with Russia.

Kerry said in Brussels: “I am confident that Article 5 is not going to be held hostage to the lack of one country or another or several having met that [spending] goal. That’s not going to happen. Article 5 is larger than [that] - it’s about principle, it’s about security.”

Kerry noted that Trump was already rowing back on campaign statements on immigration and climate change.

Trump had promised to build a wall on the Mexico border and to scrap the Paris climate accord, but Kerry said: “There’s already a revision with respect to the amount of wall or fence or whatever it is now being called. There’s going to be - there’s also a revision with respect to … climate change.”

Aside from his policy ideas, Trump’s far-right rhetoric also shocked Nato allies in Europe, with French president Francois Hollande at one point saying that Trump made him want to vomit.

Kerry said Nato’s role was to defend “the liberal world order” and values such as “tolerance, openness, democracy, rule of law, [and] good governance”.

Speaking in Brussels the same day at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers, Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said he wanted Trump to come to next year’s Nato summit in Brussels “to show the strength of the transatlantic bond and of the alliance”.

Events in Turkey and Italy have also caused tension in the Western club.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken draconian measures against alleged coup plotters and Kurdish sympathisers and has improved ties with Russia.

Italian leader Matteo Renzi has resigned after he lost a referendum, raising the prospect of the anti-Nato and pro-Russia 5 Star Movement party getting into power.

Stoltenberg said some Turkish officers had applied for asylum in Nato countries, but that it was up to their national jurisdictions to decide how to treat them.

He said Erdogan had, in a recent meeting, personally promised him to “continue to be a committed Nato ally”.

He also said “the fact that Turkey is talking to Russia it not contradicting that Turkey is committed and a key Nato ally”.

On Renzi, Stoltenberg said: “The outcome of the referendum will not in any way change Italy’s position in Nato.”

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