Angela Merkel at the NATO meeting in Brussels
Openness, not isolation
"Isolationism and walls are not successful, but open societies built on shared values," declared the Chancellor at the unveiling of a Berlin Wall memorial in front of the new NATO Headquarters in Brussels. Angela Merkel described NATO’s decision to join the "anti-IS coalition" as a "strong sign".
"I am happy that all NATO member states have once again confirmed that NATO is the central pillar of our common security and that we feel responsible for ensuring our shared security in solidarity with one another," stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of the NATO meeting on Thursday afternoon in Brussels. International terrorism, defence spending and Euro-Atlantic security were the three main issues that dominated the talks of the leaders of NATO’s 28 member states.
Fight against IS
NATO is to significantly expand its fight against terrorism. The decision to join the international coalition to fight the terrorist organisation IS is a "strong political message" said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. He also announced that a terrorism intelligence cell would be established and a coordinator appointed.
Angela Merkel reported that NATO’s decision to join the anti-IS coalition would not result in any additional responsibilities for Germany. "It is clear that no new German inputs will be entailed over and above what we are already doing," stressed the Chancellor. NATO is already supporting the anti-IS coalition on a limited scale with AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) surveillance planes. Angela Merkel stressed Germany’s broad engagement for NATO: as well as providing air policing in the Baltic states, Germany is involved in the Afghanistan mission and in the fight against IS.
On the margins of the NATO meeting, a bilateral meeting took place between the Chancellor and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting focused on the current strains on German-Turkish relations. The Chancellor once again pointed out that it is "imperative that members of the German Bundestag be able to visit German troops stationed outside Germany". The Chancellor also called for a rule-of-law treatment of detained German citizens, and specifically demanded the release of Deniz Yücel.
Germany "can be proud" of its contribution
NATO leaders agreed to submit "action plans" by December, laying out how they can achieve higher defence spending. Specifically the action plans are to demonstrate how member states intend to raise spending by 2024 to the equivalent of 2 per cent of their GDP, reported Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the meeting.
"We will once again be re-affirming our commitment to the Wales resolutions," said Angela Merkel referring to defence spending. "I am delighted that the NATO Secretary General has said, also with a view to Germany, that it is a good thing that we, the grand coalition, have raised defence spending and that this will allow us to better underpin our contributions to NATO." Germany can be proud of the contributions it makes to NATO, she continued. Germany will not forget the part played by NATO in "reunifying our country. And that is why we will be making our contribution to security and solidarity within the alliance," underscored Angela Merkel.
Berlin Wall and Nine-Eleven Memorials
During the meeting in Brussels two memorials were unveiled in the entrance area of the new NATO Headquarters. One consists of two sections of the Berlin Wall, and the other commemorates the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA on 11 September 2011. With a view to the Berlin Wall sections, Angela Merkel stressed, "This piece of the Berlin Wall bears testimony to a piece of history, in which NATO played a pivotal role over a period of several decades during the Cold War. This piece of the Wall is also something that shaped my own life for very many years. Thanks to steadfastness on the one side, particularly on the part of NATO, and the courage of our friends in Central and Eastern Europe and in the former German Democratic Republic the Berlin Wall no longer stands today, except as a reminder to us."
Angela Merkel continued, "Our alliance is in full agreement on the awareness of the importance of cooperation, continued peace and trust that it is not isolationism and walls that are successful, but open societies based on shared values."
Meeting with Jens Stoltenberg on 11 May
To prepare for the summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on 11 May in Berlin. As he stressed in Berlin, the fight against IS involves purely support services, like surveillance and reconnaissance findings and training projects like the measures underway in Iraq: combat troops will not be deployed.
With regard to the resolutions adopted at the NATO summit in Cardiff, Wales in 2014 and Warsaw, Poland in 2016, the alliance discussed fair burden sharing. Like all other partners, the German government undertook at that time to raise defence spending towards two per cent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product). "The entire German government supported the Cardiff resolution, and we intend to uphold this resolution and work towards it," said Angela Merkel.