Defense minister rejects French President Macron's NATO 'brain dead' claims

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa).
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) has hit out at French President Emmanuel Macron's claim that NATO was "brain dead".

"I think Macron's approach was above all about dramatizing this difficult situation, and using some kind of hyperbole," Luik told ERR Friday.

"NATO is certainly not 'brain-dead', and I think it is very important to remember that NATO, as an institution, has its own responsibilities, and member states, including France, are here with their forces to defend the independence and sovereignty of Estonia and the entire eastern wing of NATO," he went on.

Macron made the remarks in an interview with U.K. weekly The Economist, saying that NATO was "brain dead" and Europe was standing on the edge of a precipice.

He also questioned the effectiveness of Article 5 of the founding 1949 NATO treaty, which states that each member state should consider an armed attack against one member state to be an armed attack against all member states, and questioned the future of the alliance while Donald Trump was U.S. President, in the light of the latter's decision to pull troops out of northeastern Syria without consulting with allies.

Echoing a response from German chancellor Angela Merkel, Luik said that Macron had over-dramatized the situation.

"I believe that this statement by Macron sprang above all from a desire to give greater strength to its idea of a ​​strategic European autonomy, that is, that Europe must prepare itself for potential conflicts, and have the armed forces and the political will to do so," Luik said, noting that the phenomenon was nothing new.

"This has been France's longstanding policy since the time of President [Charles] De Gaulle, and Macron is pursuing this issue very vigorously," Luik added.

Luik also expressed skepticism about the idea of European autonomy.

"First, Europe does not have the necessary resources and political will. And second, for our part, there is no way to say that the transatlantic relationship annot work. On the contrary, we believe that the transatlantic relationship is strong and secure," Luik said.

French troops form a part of the Tapa-based NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup in Estonia, and French fighter jets also regularly participate in NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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