'New Challenges' Merkel Calls for NATO Strategy Rethink

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called for NATO to overhaul its security strategy, saying the defense alliance needed to face up to new global threats. "Neither Europe nor America can master these challenges alone," she said.

A German member of ISAF in Afghanistan: Merkel has argued that NATO needs a new plan.

A German member of ISAF in Afghanistan: Merkel has argued that NATO needs a new plan.

NATO will have to be fundamentally changed so that it can deal with today's global challenges, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday, speaking ahead of the 60th anniversary summit of the alliance.

In the new strategic concept to be drawn up this year, NATO states should seek "as much prevention as possible, so that we don't reach the point where only military assistance helps," she told the German parliament in Berlin in a speech ahead of the April 3-4 summit, which will be hosted jointly by Germany and France. She urged NATO leaders to start work on revising the organization's fundamental strategy, saying they should complete the important task within the year.

Merkel called for stronger and clearer ties to other international organisations, such as the United Nations, the African Union and non-governmental organisations. NATO would only succeed in boosting security for its member states by twinning military action with efforts to stabilize and help develop those countries threatening the alliance, she said. Her suggestions may sound straightforward, but are "comparatively revolutionary," she said.

The German chancellor explained that the need for reform reflected new global challenges. No longer should its strategy reflect its historic role of protecting Europe during the Cold War, she argued.

Instead she listed pressing contemporary challenges facing NATO, including regional conflicts, the threat of international terrorism and environmental problems. Additionally, countries need to secure their energy supplies and access to limited resources, challenges she said that neither the US nor Europe could overcome without outside help. "No country can solve the world's problems alone any more," the chancellor warned.

Chancellor Angela Merkel: "No country can solve the world's problems alone any more."

Chancellor Angela Merkel: "No country can solve the world's problems alone any more."

Merkel described Afghanistan as "the most important contemporary test" of the 26-state alliance, saying it would likely top the agenda at the meeting. She stressed that Germany did not plan to send more troops to the country despite recent requests from US President Barack Obama for NATO members to boost their military role in the region. The US's position will likely to be underlined by Obama at the summit, which he will attend during his first European trip since taking office.

During her speech, Merkel also urged closer links with Russia. "It is also in Germany's interest that dialogue between the new US administration and Russia gains momentum again," she said.

The chancellor said, who is scheduled to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev next week, said: "NATO wants Russia as a good partner ... We have not been rivals for 20 years now. The time of the Cold War is irrevocably over."

jas -- with wire reports


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