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NATO emerges intact, united after London meeting

NATO Heads of state and government at the meeting in London
NATO Heads of state and government at the meeting in London

Nawab Khan

BRUSSELS, Dec 8 (KUNA) -- Ahead of the NATO leaders meeting near London on Wednesday (4 December) a number of critical articles appeared in the western press focusing on disunity and divisions within the Alliance .
Yet, the short three-hour hour meeting organized to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the NATO treaty , the Alliance has come out strengthened and united, according to analysts and commentators.
The Atlantic alliance is in better shape after the London summit, Stefano Stefanini, a former Italian NATO representative, wrote in La Stampa Italian paper.
"Even if they don't agree on everything, the leaders did their best to avoid a conflict that would only have done harm. The differences are obvious, but so is the desire to remain together," he opined.
The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine published a report titled "NATO demonstrates unity and strength at its summit." "The harmony stood in marked contrast to the debates preceding the 70th anniversary of the Alliance," it noted.
The host of the meeting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the 29-member Alliance as "the most successful alliance in history." He stressed there was "very great solidarity" within the alliance. The British weekly the Economist recalled that "so much talk of "crisis" has surrounded NATO's 70th birthday year that it has been easy to forget there are reasons to celebrate. " "Not only has the alliance proved remarkably durable by historical standards, but since 2014 it has responded aptly to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, refocusing on its core mission of collective defence," it commented.
Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, backed down from his threat to use veto to block a NATO military plan to defend Eastern Europe in order to safeguard the unity of the Alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in his press conference after the meeting admitted that there are differences within the Alliance but underlined that NATO remains unified in its commitment to collective defence.
"Disagreements will always attract more attention than when we agree. We have to remember that we have had disagreements in this Alliance since the Suez Crisis in the 1950s, to the Iraq War in 2003, and many more," he noted.
"The strength of NATO is that we have always been able to overcome these differences and then unite around our core task: to protect and defend each other," he stressed.
The defecse spending of allies, excluding the United States, has jumped by USD 130 billion over the past five years, he pointed out.
He said NATO leaders also agreed on a new action plan to step up efforts in the fight against terrorism.
"All Allies remain committed to the fight against ISIS and our training mission in Iraq and the training mission in Afghanistan," said the former Norwegian Prime Minister.
A nine-point Declaration released after the meeting stressed "NATO remains the foundation for our collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies." "We have strengthened partnerships in our neighborhood and beyond, deepening political dialogue, support, and engagement with partner countries and international organizations," it noted. (end) nk.mb