Created in 1949 to unify the defense of Europe under US command against the Soviet Union, NATO now struggles not only to try to redefine itself in the multipolar environment of the 21st century, but also against a major internal threat.
It is the unprecedented military agreement signed by two of its 30 members, France and Greece. According to the text, sewn at the end of September and ratified last week, both countries are committed to mutual defense in the event of an external attack.
Until then, Article 5 of the founding charter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization provides for the same —only against enemies outside the bloc. For the first time, under the provision of the new pact, the defense is also valid against any opponent, including from within the military club.
In the case of the Franco-Greek initiative, the focus has a first and last name: the Turkey of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the strategic NATO member with a foot in the Middle East.
The rivalry between Ankara and Athens is historical and has a religious and cultural background — the countries have already fought four wars since Greece left the Ottoman Empire in 1830 and divide the island of Cyprus into zones of influence.
The entry of both countries into NATO could be a deterrent, but in practice it did not. The newest contentious point is the wealth of oil and gas in the subsoil of the continental shelf that share the Mediterranean.
In August of last year, Turkish prospecting for hydrocarbon areas almost brought rivals to the forefront. Last month, a Turkish warship threatened to sink a Maltese vessel studying the East Med sea route, a pipeline that will link Israel with Cyprus and Greece.
France is also uncomfortable with the assertiveness of Erdogan, who entered with force supporting one of the sides in the civil war in Libya, an important oil-producing country for Europe that for decades lived under the influence of France.
Erdogan is fueling a personal feud with French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he once wished to be ejected from office.
With Russia established in western Syria since intervening in the civil war that began in 2011, the eastern Mediterranean is experiencing a time of cross-rivalry. Ankara, for example, is antagonizing Moscow in Libya and Syria, but for the time being it has settled with the Kremlin in the Caucasus and is expanding its portfolio of Russian arms purchases.
Thus, Turkey became the preferred target of the US and other NATO countries, which do not accept the presence of military material from Vladimir Putin in an alliance that values interoperability. Erdogan shrugged.
Her position has always been autonomous, in part reflecting the distaste for the European Union’s refusal to accept a Muslim member—for war, her geographic position has always made her a coveted ally, so much so that the US has taken numerous actions out of Incirlik’s Turkish base. , where they even keep nuclear bombs.
“The defense of European interests in the Mediterranean now has a new substance. If we are attacked, we will have on our side the most powerful armed force on the continent, the only European nuclear power,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the session of the Parliament that ratified the agreement on the 7th.
Not by chance, he omitted the other atomic power of NATO, the United Kingdom, which left the European Union and is allied with the project of military increase in the Indo-Pacific with the US, with an eye on containing Chinese expansion.
China, Middle Land
France, historically estranged from the British, was especially irritated when Washington and London signed a military pact with Australia to equip the island-continent with nuclear submarines—by trashing the billion-dollar sale of conventional French vessels to Canberra.
At the same time, Paris made a point of demonstrating that it is still in the bigger game: on Wednesday (13), it sent a ship for the first time in years to cross the Taiwan Strait, a sign of support for the island that Beijing considers its own and threatens militarily. all the time.
This strategic shift to the Indo-Pacific terrifies states to the east of NATO, which were once part of Russian domains or influence and actually fear Vladimir Putin’s interventions in their territories, as occurred in Ukraine in 2014.
All this animosity explains the Franco-Greek rapprochement, which will allow the forces of both countries to use military ports and airports mutually. On top of that, it’s good business for Macron, who faces reelection next year.
Within the scope of the pact, Greece closed a package of US$ 7.5 billion (R$ 41 billion, at the exchange rate on Friday, 15) to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets, 4 corvettes and 4 frigates, as well as missiles and other weapons. This follows Erdogan’s announcement of a new acquisition of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft batteries and possibly fighters and submarines in the near future.
The NATO command, despite more or less conciliatory speeches from spokespersons, is not liking what it sees. His secretary general, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, was very clear when he spoke about the case at Georgetown University, USA, on the 7th.
“What I don’t believe is in the effort to do something outside the framework of NATO, or competing with or duplicating NATO, because the alliance remains the cornerstone of European and US security,” he said. In practice, however, he could do little.
With America’s post-Afghan withdrawal largely focused on Asia, Europe’s exposure to greater friction with Russia, and serious internal fissures, the very idea of a Western alliance is challenged.