Trump and Merkel reconcile in Brussels and other NATO summit outcomes

Mikhail Simonov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Trump and Merkel reconcile in Brussels and other NATO summit outcomes

NATO's summit in Brussels on July 11-12 promises to be one of the most effective in recent years. It would be a major surprise, or even an achievement, taking into account the aggravated relations between states and a very "nervous" international situation as a whole.

Outcome 1. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg promised that the summit will approve the 30-30-30-30 initiative to strengthen defense and containment policy. But the implementation of this plan will not start tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but only in 2020. But even the adoption of the project will reduce the severity of the relationship between the US, which demands every member to increase its contribution to the alliance, and the European leaders of NATO. The 30-30-30-30 initiative requires 30 battalions, 30 squadrons of fighter aircraft and 30 warships ready to deploy within 30 days of being put on alert. Stoltenberg also noted that the leaders of the alliance will coordinate the command structure, which provides for the creation of two new commands -  in Norfolk (the US) and Ulm (Germany).

There's more. In 2018, eight NATO nations will increase their defense spending to 4 percent of their country's GDP. The NATO Secretary General said that the increase in defense spending by NATO countries was "commissioned" by US President Donald Trump. Stoltenberg told a number of media outlets that he addressed the topics of the Brussels summit at the personal meeting with Trump: "Trump has a very direct language and message on defence spending. All Allies agree that we need fairer burden sharing in the Alliance, and spend more on defence." Thus, the hatchet recovered by the US president can be buried back, but Trump's extremely tough statements on Germany and France at the meeting with Stoltenberg should be kept in mind. It won't be hard for Trump to repeat those devastating statements.

Outcome 2. It looks like US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made up. Shortly before the Brussels summit, Trump lashed out at Merkel, accusing her of excessive dependence on Moscow. Formally, it was about the Nord Stream-2 gas project. And mostly about it. But there are suspicions that Trump looked at things more broadly. He could mean Merkel's ambiguous statements about the harmfulness of the sanctions war against Russia, during which Europe suffers significant irreparable financial losses. Trump could be angry at Merkel because of Berlin's inadequate rigidity towards Moscow over the Donbas issue. Trump could be annoyed that Germany, opposing Georgia's admission to NATO, plays into the hands of Russia.

By the way, Georgia had high hopes that this version is real, where loud and unambiguous statement are heard that the country is ready to join NATO, doing everything necessary for this, including a powerful and representative participation in the alliance's operations, but Germany, which does not want aggravation of relations with Russia, simply blocks Georgia's entry into the alliance. By the way, Stoltenberg confirmed the validity of such an opinion on the eve of the summit, speaking with the First Channel of the Georgian TV, when said that the admission of Georgia to NATO requires the consensus of all the members of the alliance, which does not exist now. He confirmed that Georgia will enter NATO one day, but did not give a timetable for this event.

Merkel gave an answer to Trump. The Chancellor's statement shows that she is wounded. Insulted. Even offended. The answer turned out to be worthy. And then came the help of French President Emmanuel Macron. European leaders seem to have tamed Trump. Or he decided not to aggravate with his allies. Not least because of the approaching meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Macron will meet before him at the final match of the World Cup in Moscow, and with whom Merkel has rather peculiar relations, which can be described as "comradely".

After the meeting with Angela Merkel, Donald Trump said that they had "very good relations" with the chancellor, and that they discussed issues related to Nord Stream-2, increased defense spending, migration and trade issues. In all spheres, according to him, they have mutual understanding.

Outcome 3. The Brussels summit marked the next expansion of NATO. A small one, but it's a fact. It's about Macedonia. This Balkan republic was invited to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP). According to Stoltenberg, Skopje will receive an official invitation as soon as necessary changes are made to the Constitution in order to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. Thus, contradictions with the NATO long-term resident - Greece, "amazed" about the theft of the historical name of its province - will be leveled. NATO believes that the process of Macedonia's accession to the Alliance will take about a year and a half. The leadership of the alliance also proposes to consider the example of Macedonia as proof that the doors of the block are open to new members.

Outcome 4. Ukraine and Georgia were left with nothing. Georgia's shattered hopes and aspirations have already been mentioned above. The issue of its accession has been yet delayed, the popularity of the idea of ​​membership in NATO is declining in the country. A few years ago, according to polls, at least 80% of the population favored joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Today, this figure is about 60%. According to one of the leaders of the European Georgia opposition party Sergi Kapanadze, it seems that Russia's propaganda is still not entirely inconclusive, and Moscow's influence is gradually growing. Nevertheless, he believes that the Georgian people have made a historic choice in favor of European integration and there will not change their mind.

The Ukrainian issue is more difficult. The idea of ​​joining NATO has never been as popular there as in Georgia. And now they have "Georgian problems" in the form of the territorial integrity. There are countries in NATO that also do not want to see Ukraine in the alliance. For example, the Ukraine-NATO meeting at the level of the heads of state and the leadership of the alliance planned at the summit was blocked by Hungary. However, despite this fact, even Kiev believes that the meeting would not change the situation: NATO is not ready to discuss prospects for Ukraine's admission, unlike in the situation with Georgia.

The two post-Soviet republics expressing discontent with Russia can be comforted by the fact that in the communique adopted at the end of the first working day of the summit they are mentioned as states to which NATO countries will help in meeting NATO standards, implementing reforms, and improving defense capacity.