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The famous quote of Lord Ismay, that the purpose of the NATO alliance is "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down” has recently been proven once again in the middle of the Turkish-Russian crisis; and not only Germans, but all Europeans.
On November 24th, NATO countries held an extraordinary meeting after the downing the Russian fighter jet by the Turkish Air Force. Turkish officials said that Russia had violated their country’s airspace on the border with Syria. Turkish officials applied to the NATO alliance to secure support.
The pretext was clear: the 4th Article of the North Atlantic Treaty. It proposes consultation over military matters when "the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened". The real aim, however, was different: to push another NATO state into a serious confrontation with Russia. The Turkish President-cum-Sultan Erdogan, rightly understood that the second largest military force in NATO could not challenge Russia alone. Additionally, his protectors in Washington were seriously worried by recent steps made by their European allies.
After the Paris attacks, French President François Hollande tried to bypass NATO by appealing instead to the EU to invoke its mutual-assistance clause. The common security policy of the EU has always been seen as the most difficult but yet indispensable part of building a sovereign Europe. Common threats and coordinated actions could bolster the creation of more efficient and independent institutions; independent from NATO, of course. Taken together with the talks about future French-Russian cooperation in Syria, and the anxiety of the Atlanticists becomes understandable.