Nato summit 2018 begins in Brussels: What is Nato?
Brussels, July 11: US President Donald Trump was set to be at the focal point of the two-day Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) summit which took off at its headquarters - Brussels - on Wednesday, July 11.
As like last month's G7 summit in Canada, the Nato summit is also likely to be a stormy affair, thanks to Trump's forthright take on the grouping's functioning. Trump has been critical of the Nato even before he was elected as the president and continued with his tough stand on it after becoming the 45th incumbent of the White House, accusing it of not contributing its fair share and taking advantage of the US's friendship.
Now, what exactly is the Nato?
The Nato is a military alliance which was formed in April 1949 whereby the members agreed on a collective defence, i.e., an attack on any one member of the alliance would be considered an attack on the others. Originally a group of 12 countries, the Nato's membership went on increasing over the years and it now stands at 29. Montenegro is the latest to join it in June 2017.
History of Nato's formation:
In 1948, the Treaty of Brussels was reached as a mutual defence pact against the threat of the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the Cold War era. The countries that came together for the treaty were Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and the UK.
These countries formed the Western Union Defence Organisation in September 1948 after the Kremlin's threat became imminent with the Berlin Blockade of that year. But these countries were too small to tackle the Soviet power and when in 1948, the democratic government of former Czechoslovakia was toppled by the communists, the West European countries sought a joint military defence strategy and it got a positive response from the US which was wary of the spread of communism in Europe.
The European leaders met their US counterparts at the Pentagon and the way was paved for the establishment of the Nato on April 4, 1949. Besides the US, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland joined the five Treaty of Brussels members to form the new grouping.
In the mid-1950s, the former Soviet Union and seven of its satellite states formed a group under the Warsaw Pact as a counter weight to the Nato although it got defunct in 1991, months ahead of the fall of the Soviet Union and today, many of the former Warsaw Pact members belong to the Nato.
Nato's principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and it was invoked for the first time after the 9/11 terror attacks against the US in 2001, which is quite a paradox, for the organisation had always apprehended an invasion from the former Soviet Union during the heydays of the Cold War. In fact, each of Nato's operations till date took place after the end of the Cold War, starting from those in Bosnia in 1992.
The Nato member countries are recommended to spend two per cent of their respective GDP on defence but most do not and that is something which has irked Trump.
Top sources in the Nato said on Tuesday that only seven out of 27 European members of the grouping were set to meet two per cent spending target and they are Britain, Greece, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Romania. Outside Europe, only the US is meeting the responsibility. It, however, said that the number was only three in 2014.
Though the Nato's funding has become a key issue between the US and Europe, for East European countries that are located closer to Russia, the summit is an opportunity to increase the troops stationed on their soil as a show of strength vis-à-vis Moscow.