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Nabila Ramdani

New Arab Exclusive: Macron says alliance with UK will survive Brexit, despite NATO 'brain death'

Macron and Johnson have strongly disagreed on Brexit [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 November, 2019

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Brexit will create a 'new period of creative and pragmatic cooperation' ensuring the peace and security of Europe, Emmanuel Macron has told The New Arab in exclusive comments.
Brexit will create a "new period of creative and pragmatic cooperation" ensuring the peace and security of Europe, Emmanuel Macron has told The New Arab in exclusive comments.

In uncharacteristically upbeat comments about the UK's forthcoming withdrawal from the EU, the President of France said there was no reason that it would mean "instability and uncertainty".

"No, I don't think Brexit is a threat in that respect," said Macron.

"I regret it, but one must respect the voice of the people."

"In terms of peace and security, it's up to us to build a new era. Britain is a close ally and there will certainly be a new period of creative and pragmatic cooperation. We will continue to build on our strong alliance."

Macron made his comments at the second Paris Peace Forum - an event held in mid-November to find solutions to global problems.

Macron said that the US' diminishing loyalty to its European allies meant a new security strategy was vital.

He repeated his view that NATO was in a state of "brain death", arguing that there was "no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the United States and its NATO allies".

Mr Macron said Europe had to "wake up" and consider itself a geopolitical collective.

"The risk is idleness," he said. "To say that we have organisations, we love them, let's not question them."

"We need truth. Priggishness and hypocrisy don't work in this day and age, because our fellow citizens see it."

The 41-year-old head of state said plain speaking was vital before the next NATO summit in London, on 4 December.

This was especially because President Donald Trump's the US was "turning its back on us", said Macron.

When the UK originally voted to leave the EU in 2016, Macron had called the move "a crime", but his position has softened significantly since.

He recognised France's strong bilateral alliances with the UK – ones that extend into numerous vital fields, including the fights against terrorism and illegal immigration.

The Paris Peace Forum coincided with the anniversary of the November 11 Armistice of 1918, which brought World War I to an end.

Macron, who was brought up in the Somme department of France, and whose great-grandfather fought in the British Army, constantly argues that the EU is the best way of ensuring peace between European neighbours.

He told The New Arab that devastating wars between close trading partners were once the norm, but that such conflicts could now be prevented by the EU.

We cannot just content ourselves with bilateral treaties.


On Thursday, Macron stood by his controversial comments about Nato's "brain death" one week before the alliance's summit in Britain.

Speaking at a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenber, he also urged that Europe see itself as "geopolitical power", which must be involved in any talks to forge a new pact limiting mid-range nuclear missiles held by the US and Russia, after a landmark Cold War-era accord fell apart this year.

Macron also defended his move to try to establish a working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which has riled EU leaders who have shunned Moscow since its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

"We want a lucid, robust and demanding dialogue with Russia, with neither naivety nor complacency," Macron said.

He also said European nations must be involved in any talks to forge a new pact limiting mid-range nuclear missiles held by the US and Russia, after a landmark Cold War-era accord fell apart this year.

Russia has called on the US and other NATO member to implement a moratorium on deploying medium-range missiles, something Stoltenberg has so far ruled out.

"An accord that would replace the INF... requires the involvement of Europeans," Macron said. "It's a question of the security of Europe."

"We cannot just content ourselves with bilateral treaties," he added.

The comments set the stage for another possibly fractious NATO summit in London, which will also be attended by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey's move against Syrian Kurdish forces in northern Syria - after getting a green light from Trump - caught NATO allies by surprise, and largely contributed to Macron's damning critique in an Economist interview in early November.

In Thursday's conference, Marcron said that Turkey cannot expect solidarity from NATO allies at the same time that it launched its Syria offensive as a "fait accompli".

The comments prompted an angry response from Turkey

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu dismissed French President Emmanuel Macron's criticism of its offensive in Syria against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, saying the French leader sponsors terrorism.

The YPG is viewed as the Syrian-wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) by Turkey, which has banned it as a terrorist organisation.

"He is already the sponsor of the terrorist organisation and constantly hosts them at the Elysee. If he says his ally is the terrorist organisation...there is really nothing more to say," Cavusoglu told reporters in parliament.


With additional text from news agecies.

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