ALL NEWS

NATO downplays divisions as infighting roils alliance

Dec 4, 2019, 5:20 AM
From front row left, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,...
From front row left, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attend a ceremony event during a NATO leaders meeting at The Grove hotel and resort in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg rejected Wednesday French criticism that the military alliance is suffering from brain death, and insisted that the organization is adapting to modern challenges. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

WATFORD, England (AP) — NATO leaders on Wednesday played down their differences and insisted that they remain united over security issues and determined to defend each other despite a series of spats between the presidents of some of the alliance’s biggest member countries.

Before a summit near London, French President Emmanuel Macron had lamented the “brain death” of NATO due in part to what he called a lack of U.S. leadership. President Donald Trump branded his remarks as “very disrespectful.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Macron himself is “brain dead.”

The infighting is mostly due to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. Macron has complained that Trump pulled U.S. troops out of the region without warning his NATO allies. Turkey saw the move as a greenlight to send its troops in.

“NATO is agile, NATO is active, NATO is adapting,” NATO-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said when asked by reporters whether the world’s biggest security alliance is brain dead.

“As long as we are able to deliver substance… then NATO proves once again that we are able to respond to a shifting security landscape, and that’s the best way to also provide unity of this alliance,” he said before chairing the meeting at a luxury hotel and golf resort.

Summit host Prime Minister Boris Johnson — also busy with a divisive British election campaign — said “clearly it is very important that the alliance stays together, but there is far, far more that unites us than divides us.”

Johnson said NATO’s success is due to “the very simple concept of safety in numbers. At the heart of it is a pledge that we will come to one another’s defense: all for one and one for all.”

Erdogan didn’t speak to waiting media. Trump arrived via a different entrance, away from media.

Macron, however, refused to apologize for his remarks, saying they had ignited a debate at NATO about important strategic issues.

“It’s allowed us to raise fundamental debates,” he said, chief among them being “how to build sustainable peace in Europe.”

He said NATO “debates should be about other things than budgets and finances.”

Stoltenberg noted that European allies and Canada have added $130 billion to their defense spending since 2016, even as Trump has complained that they are too slow to boost their military budgets.

“This is unprecedented, this is making us stronger,” Stoltenberg said of the spending effort.

After Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO countries halted their post-Cold War spending cuts and began increasing spending. They pledged to “move toward” spending 2% of their annual GDP on national defense by 2024.

Trump said Tuesday that much more needs to be done.

“You could make the case that they’ve been delinquent for 25-30 years,” Trump said. The figure of 2%, he added, “is a very low number, it really should be 4.”

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel conceded that “we have experienced easier times. But we’re allies after all and we’re going to speak about everything.”

“The atmosphere last night was much more relaxed than what I expected after hearing what had happened over the last 24 hours. But I think differences can arise. We just have to talk about them,” Bettel said, referring to receptions late Tuesday at Buckingham Palace and at Downing Street.

After a working session of a few hours on Wednesday, the leaders of the 29-nation trans-Atlantic alliance are due to publish a declaration underlining their commitment to NATO on its 70th birthday, and to show that the alliance is adapting to modern threats and potential new adversaries like China.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

spent...
Elizabeth Weiler

Financial Infidelity: What does the Utah data look like?

SALT LAKE CITY — How many dollars spent by your significant other would it take you to reconsider your relationship? The average Utahn would ‘reconsider their relationship’ if their partner spent $5k without consulting them first, reveals research from coupon birds. Dave and Dujanovic discuss the research and welcome listener calls.  Listen live at 10:35 […]
11 hours ago
A snowy mountain with trees is pictured, avalanche risk is measured often this time of year...
Adam Small

How do forecasters determine avalanche risk?

Determining the avalanche risk for any given day takes coordination between avalanche forecasters and the National Weather Service.
11 hours ago
...
Jeff Zeleny, Eva McKend and Gregory Krieg, CNN

Georgia voters once again have the last word during election season

During a campaign rally for Warnock in Atlanta last week, former President Barack Obama stressed the immediate impact of Democrats potentially winning a 51st Senate seat.
11 hours ago
homes...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Suspected criminals on Zillow listing Utah homes for sale without homeowners’ knowledge

Be careful when looking at homes on Zillow with the intention of buying or renting them, they may not actually be on the market.
11 hours ago
A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
11 hours ago
The Quiet Santa event allows kids with sensory issues to meet Santa. (Photo: Canva)...
Chris Jacobs

“Quiet Santa” provides space for kids with sensory issues

The University Place Mall is hosting a "Quiet Santa" event for kids with sensory issues like Autism. The event runs. through Dec. 10.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
NATO downplays divisions as infighting roils alliance