As heads of state and government meet in the U.K. this week for the 70th anniversary of the military alliance NATO, discussions are likely to focus on shifting geopolitical relations and military threats, that thorny issue of defense spending and, crucially, the alliance’s future, APA reports citing CNBC.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this year that the summit on Dec. 3 and 4 will give members the opportunity to address “current and emerging security challenges and how NATO continues to invest and adapt to ensure it will remain a pillar of stability in the years ahead.”
The summit on the outskirts of London comes at a tricky time for NATO with unsettled relationships countering older insecurities like relations with Russia. Furthermore, the issues are now coming from within, with the commitment of its most powerful member, the U.S., more uncertain than ever.
“Rarely has NATO not been under verbal siege over these past few months,” Judy Dempsey, a non-resident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe, said in an editorial piece on Tuesday last week.
“The fact that that this meeting will not be called a summit shows how NATO’s seventieth birthday is not being celebrated with great fanfare but instead with a degree of self-doubt, if not anxiety.”
That anxiety comes after a tough few years for the alliance, especially when it comes to the issue of who pays the most. NATO agreed at a summit in Wales in 2014 to reverse the trend of declining defense budgets and to raise them over the coming decade, a move that was designed to “further strengthen the transatlantic bond.” Then, members agreed to spend a minimum of 2% of their GDP (gross domestic product) on defense.
At last year’s summit in Brussels, President Donald Trump chided other members of the group for not meeting spending targets agreed at the NATO summit in 2014.
Experts note that discussions at this NATO “Leaders Meeting,” as it’s being called, will be informed as much by issues not on the formal agenda as those that are.
“Member states will be keen to bring their political differences back behind closed doors, whilst emphasizing the military coherence and credibility of their alliance,” Sarah Raine, consulting senior fellow for geopolitics and strategy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), told CNBC.
“The degree to which Europe should do more not just for itself, but also by itself, remains highly contentious. Assessment of the scope of NATO’s engagement on China’s challenge, including the U.S. push to include the issue of 5G within these discussions, risk further highlighting these sensitivities,” she said.