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Merkel says important to keep Turkey in NATO: report

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NATO is at least as essential today as it was during the Cold War, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday, renewing a pledge to keep raising Germany’s defense spending and arguing that it is important to keep Turkey in the alliance, The Associated Press reported.

Merkel told the German parliament before a NATO summit in London next week that “Europe cannot defend itself alone at the moment; we rely on this trans-Atlantic alliance.”

“The preservation of NATO is in our very own interest today, more strongly than during the Cold War — or at least as strongly as during the Cold War,” she said. Merkel added that it’s “right for us to work for this alliance and take on more responsibility.”

French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent public criticism of NATO — notably a perceived lack of US leadership, concerns about Turkey since it invaded northern Syria without warning its allies and the need for Europe to take on more security responsibilities — has shaken the alliance.

The chancellor acknowledged that “Turkey has become alienated as a member state within NATO” and that “the United States no longer automatically takes responsibility when things are on fire in our neighborhood.”

While there haven’t been any serious suggestions that Turkey should leave NATO, despite a string of differences between Ankara and its partners, Merkel addressed its continued membership head-on.

“I say that Turkey should remain a NATO member and we should support that, because it is of geostrategic significance for NATO that Turkey is in” the alliance, Merkel told lawmakers, while stressing that differences should be addressed.

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