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German, French backing of NATO reform plan expected to irk Ankara

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The German and French foreign ministers on Tuesday expressed support for a NATO development strategy plan devised by experts that includes restricting the veto power of member states, a proposal that is likely to be opposed by Turkey.

“Today, the Foreign Ministers of the Atlantic Alliance gathered to examine and discuss the report submitted by the group of experts mandated at the last NATO Summit in London. The purpose of this reflection process was to strengthen the political dimension of the Alliance by providing recommendations on reinforcing Allied unity, solidarity, and cohesion. We are committed to that idea as an investment in the future of the transatlantic partnership,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a joint statement.

An expert committee was established in the spring of 2020 shortly after French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with The Economist that there had been a lack of coordination between NATO partners in important decisions about security policy and that the Alliance had “brain death.”

A plan to reform the Alliance, which included proposals such as complicating the veto process for individual countries and inviting non-NATO-member EU states to NATO summits, was devised.

According to observers, however, the proposals are unlikely to be adopted since Turkey and Hungary will not agree to complicating the exercise of the right to veto.

“The group has accomplished remarkable work; their recommendations are substantial and well-balanced. We thank the group for its outstanding work under difficult circumstances,” the joint statement by the French and German foreign ministers said.

The ministers said their mutual goal was to make sure that NATO remained able to tackle present and future security challenges.

“Security in the 21st century also depends on whether we find joint answers to these challenges. For this, cohesion among Allies is key, as identified by the group,” they said. “It is in this spirit that we fully support the recommendations to update the Strategic Concept of 2010, to recommit to the values and principles of the Washington Treaty and to reinvigorate our transatlantic bond, including through the recognition that stronger European defense efforts also strengthen the Alliance and the transatlantic partnership.”

Turkey will most probably veto the suggestion to invite non-NATO EU states to alliance summits since Ankara does not recognize EU member Cyprus as the sole government on the island.

Turkey intervened in Cyprus in 1974 over fighting between Cypriot Greeks and Turks and helped establish a breakaway state in the north of the island, recognized only by Ankara.

Turkey’s relations with NATO countries have been strained over a host of issues such as Ankara’s acquisition of a Russian made S-400 air defense system and its search for hydrocarbons in disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean to which NATO member Greece also lays claim.

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