The annual summit was overshadowed by a public fallout between Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau.
By Tom-Henry Jones
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) organisation meet in London last week for its annual summit. The summit was hosted by Her Majesty the Queen in Buckingham Palace. However, the summit was overshadowed by a video that emerged of international leaders appearing to mock President Trump. Those involved were Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump responded to the video by calling Trudeau “two-faced”. Trump cancelled a planned press conference and left the summit early. The majority of the video is distorted by background noise, but it appears Trudeau mocks Trump’s press conferences. Trudeau told reporters he hadn’t been laughing about Trump but rather the location of the next G7 summit.
The summit largely focussed on the issue of money. NATO states that each member state should spend 2 per cent of its GDP on defence. Currently, the US and the UK are two of only eight member states that are meeting the target. Countries such as France, Germany and Canada are below the target. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced new spending commitments on defence by Canada and European allies. President Trump has been a frequent and vocal critic on the issue of money and the spending commitments of other member states. Previously, in January of this year, members agreed to increase defence spending by $100 billion over the next two years.
The summit also touched on the issue of Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria. Turkey is one of the 29 members of NATO. In October, US troops pulled out of Northern Syria. Just a few days later Turkish forces invaded and launched airstrikes on border towns. Mr Stoltenberg announced that the alliance was able to resolve the disagreement with Turkey, allowing NATO plans for Baltic defence to go ahead. Turkish President Erdogan originally said he would oppose a NATO defence plan for the Baltic region if it did not support Turkey’s fight against the Kurdish groups, which Erdogan considers to be terrorists.
President Macron had previously described NATO earlier in the year as ‘brain dead’. Mr Trump, who had also previously described the alliance as ‘obsolete’ believed Macron’s comments to be “nasty, and very disrespectful”. Macron also believed the alliance needed a strategical “rethink”’ in the face of the new threats to European peace. Macron said he stood by his comments despite the reception they received.
Created in 1949, NATO, started out with just 12 members but has since expanded to 29. Boris Johnson, the host of this year’s summit, summarised the role of NATO in acting as the “giant shield of solidarity that now protects 29 countries and nearly a billion people.”
Despite the fallout from the video of the leaders, the summit was used as an opportunity to discuss genuine substance. In a statement, Britain and its NATO allies used its strongest ever language when denouncing the threat of Russia. The joint declaration stated: “We, as an alliance, are facing distinct threats and challenges emanating from all strategic directions.” However, after the summit, President Macron claimed that: “On some topics Russia is seen as a threat, this is true… But Russia is also a partner in some issues. We’re working and having concrete discussions with Russia on certain issues.”
Although tensions reached new heights over the issue of spending commitments and Turkey, the NATO alliance remains united against increasing threats from Russia, North Korea and China.