Now that German leaders have responded to French President Emmanuel Macron’s provocative remarks concerning the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an unusually wide public rift has emerged between France and Germany. At its root, it’s about France’s leadership ambitions, to which Germany is opposed without itself wanting to lead.
“We do want a strong and sovereign Europe,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote in an op-ed article in the weekly Der Spiegel on Sunday. “But we need it as part of a strong NATO, and not as a substitute.”
That doesn’t just mean Maas is keen to preserve Europe’s, and Germany’s, transatlantic alliance regardless of U.S. President Donald Trump’s relative lack of interest in it — simply because Europe cannot defend itself without U.S. help today. Maas insisted that “when Europe is one day able to defend its own security, we should still want NATO.” And, directly answering Macron’s musings about improving relations with Russia as the alliance with the U.S. erodes, the German minister declared that “Germany will not tolerate any special arrangements, not vis-à-vis Moscow and not on any other matters,” because it takes the security of Poland and the Baltic states to heart.
Read more: Bloomberg