6th Oct 2022

Merkel demands upgrade of NATO strategy

  • Ms Merkel's support of NATO stands in constrast to her predecessor, Gerhard Shroder (Photo: Munich Conference on Security Policy)

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has said NATO should be a permanent forum for analysis of world security threats in the future.

Speaking at an annual high-profile security conference in Munich, she pledged her allegiance to the body, stating that all political and military measures of NATO members should be discussed and planned at NATO first.

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Only if NATO member states cannot jointly follow the same path should alternatives be sought.

"To my opinion it [NATO] should be the permanent forum, where common analysis of threats are carried out and discussed," Ms Merkel said.

"It should be the pace for political consultation over new conflicts, which flame up around the world, and should to my opinion be the place for political and military co-ordination of activities," she told the biggest annual gathering of western defence ministers, military commanders and defence industry leaders held over the weekend.

Ms Merkel also called for a fresh debate of NATO’s central strategic concept by 2008 or 2009 to define new tasks for the alliance.

Meanwhile US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged more European spending on military and NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pleaded for closer ties between NATO and like-minded states elsewhere on the globe.

Mr de Hoop Scheffer said "NATO is not a global policeman" and called for enhanced relations with democratic states in Asia such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, UK defence secretary John Reid warned NATO members that they must change for the alliance to survive.

Speaking to Associated Press, he said NATO is not guaranteed to "survive and prosper as the cornerstone of the collective security we need" but must change in order to meet new challenges, according to the BBC.

"NATO has been probably the most effective defence organisation in world history, but no institution has the divine right to exist," he said.

The discussion of a new role for NATO was launched at last year’s Munich conference, when the then German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder caused surprise among his NATO colleagues by saying NATO risked becoming outdated and was "no longer the primary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and co-ordinate strategies."

He proposed setting up a "high-ranking panel of independent figures," which would suggest improvements and called for a greater role for the EU.

Spanish ex-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar also recently suggested that NATO should not only resolve its lack of military capabilities, but also undergo a complex institutional reform and re-think its priorities.

Whether a sign of diminished influence or not - the traditional protests accompanying the Munich Conference on Security Policy were significantly weaker this year.

Instead of the 5,000 demonstrators expected to march against armament and war, only 1,700 eventually found their way to Munich, according to police.

Schröder makes surprise call for NATO review

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's surprise proposals for a reform of NATO have been met with a lack of enthusiasm - as much for the timing and the way they were delivered, as for their content.

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