NATO on the brink: Tensions erupt as expert warns that leaders have ‘overt differences‘

The claims come as the 2019 began this week, hosted by the UK, with world leaders having descended on to discuss the issues and crises facing the world. Speaking on Newsnight, political expert and author, , claimed that the divide between leaders was as salient as ever.

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He said: “If there was supposed to be a party atmosphere tonight it’s been completely rent-asunder by today’s overt differences between president Macron, president Trump, president Erdoğan of Turkey – the big players in NATO apart from the UK.

“They’re all at loggerheads – is it supposed to be about terrorism, is it supposed to be about Russia, is it supposed to be about China?

“And we heard in a clip leaning a little towards Macron’s new push to make Islamic terrorism, Islamic militant terrorism, what he calls ‘the common enemy of the alliance’.

“There was a little bit of reinforcement from president Trump, but there are sharp differences between them on other issues.”

NATO leaders are mired by ‘overt differences‘ (Image: GETTY)

Mark Urban explained the deep divisions among world leaders (Image: Newsnight)

, Newsnight’s host, replied: “It’s interesting that Trump seemed to be pivoting towards China; is the sense that Russia is now a diminished threat, or is that too far?”

Mr Urban replied: “Well no, because apart form those countries I mentioned, you’ve got the Baltic republics – Poland, Romania, countries bordering on Russia that are all intensely worried about Russia, and would not agree with Macron’s formulation of ‘lets make this an organisation about Islamic militancy’.

“And of course, it was done before and after 9/11 where that was the mood for several years, Russia was invited into tent, intelligence sharing and all the rest of it and it didn’t work out too well.

“And of course they are all too aware, as are the UK, of the three-pronged challenge from Russia: the conventional military stuff, the bombers approaching, the submarines probing the coast and internet cables, all that sort of stuff, which is actually the easiest to deal with.


He said there are disagreements over terminology and policy among several nations (Image: Newsnight )

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“The mischief if you like, the Salisbury attack, the murder of a in Berlin a couple of months ago, these things where there are strong suspicions that the Russian state is responsible, things can be done – expulsion of diplomats, but it’s limited.

“And then lastly, the most difficult, the information warfare, the sowing of mischief.

“This is not the Soviet Union that was buying hundreds of thousands of copies of the Morning Star and favouring the ideological hard-left; it’s chaos they’re after.

“One day it can be an intervention of the right, the nationalist right, another day the hard-left, all sots of accusations flying around and the alliance really doesn’t know how best to respond to them.”



World leaders met in London today for the 2019 NATO Summit (Image: GETTY)

The most obvious divisions came between Trump and Macron (Image: GETTY)

Mr Urban was talking through the political intricacies in motion among leaders from to Donald Trump to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Today, during a press conference, Mr Macron and Mr Trump sparred over NATO’s role on the global political scene, holding opposing views on Turkey and Islamic State group fighters.

Mr Trump had described Mr Macron’s comments on NATO as “nasty” but Mr Macron said he stood by his words.

World leaders are currently in London to mark NATO’s 70th anniversary.

There are disagreements over how to define terrorism and terrorists (Image: GETTY)

Though the summit only began on Tuesday, it was immediately mired in strained relations between Turkey and other member states.

Mr Erdoğan has previously said he opposes NATO’s plan for the defence of the Baltic region should member states fail to back Turkey over its fight against Kurdish groups it considers terrorists.

Relations between Mr Macron and Mr Trump were already strained amid a trade dispute, and after Mr Macron last month labelled NATO as “brain dead” because, he claimed, the US’ commitment to the outfit was fading.

At a joint press conference held between Mr Macron and Mr Trump, the US president was less combative, stressing that the two countries had “done a lot of good things together”.

Turkey‘s president Erdogan said he wants support for fighting the Kurds (Image: GETTY)


    The two sides clashed over foreign IS fighters who were captured in Syria, with Mr Trump jokingly offering them to France, saying: “Would you like some nice IS fighters? You can take everyone you want.”

    Mr Macron replied sternly “Let’s be serious”, and that IS fighters from Europe were “a tiny minority”, and that the “number one priority” was to get ride of the terrorist group.

    Mr Trump then replied: “This is why he is a great politician because that was one of the greater non-answers I have ever heard, and that‘s OK”.

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