German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wants to see a change of the alliance's strategies. NATO's partnership with Russia must be rebuilt and civil reconstruction in Afghanistan strengthened.
NATO members are pondering the future as the alliance celebrates its 60th anniversary
The German chancellor said she believes NATO must adapt to new global challenges such as terrorism and energy security as well as building new partnerships in a post-Cold War world.
Ahead of Friday's NATO anniversary summit in Germany and France, Merkel said the 28-member alliance must not nostalgically look back at its history, but look to the future.
"At this summit NATO must start revising its strategic concept," Merkel said in a speech at the German parliament in late March.
The German government has said NATO efforts to advance security and stability in Afghanistan have become the litmus test of the alliance's effectiveness.
Germany currently has about 3,500 troops based in the relatively peaceful northern region of Afghanistan. Another 600 soldiers are to be deployed to safeguard Afghan elections this summer and will contribute to the training program for Afghan security forces.
Civil reconstruction is important to stabilizing Afghanistan
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says that Berlin's strategy of a military-backed reconstruction effort should be emulated by other NATO partners.
"Stabilizing Afghanistan can only be achieved if the country becomes economically viable," he says.
Berlin has also welcomed a shift in Washington’s Afghanistan policy.
US President Barack Obama recently announced that he wants to speed up civil reconstruction in addition to sending further 17,000 troops to fight the resurgent Taliban.
Reaching out to Russia
Following talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Berlin on Tuesday, Merkel said that mutual trust needed to be rebuilt.
Merkel wants closer ties with Russia
Ties between NATO and Russia are strained after spats over NATO’s eastward expansion and American plans to station missiles and a radar base as part of an anti-missile shield in eastern Europe.
In attempts to help the creation of a strategic partnership with Moscow, Merkel has called on the former Soviet satellite states in eastern Europe to bury the hatchet with Russia as Germany has done.
"Germany and Russia stopped being enemies 20 years ago," she told parliamentarians. "One should recognize once and for all that the Cold War is over."
Row erupts over new leader
Divisions within NATO concerning Russia are also reflected by an ongoing rift over the alliance’s internal decision-making structure.
Berlin believes that continued reliance on consensus could become a recipe for paralysis.
Internal bickering has erupted notably in the current search for a new Secretary General.
Turkey rejects frontrunner Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark for his position in the Mohammed caricature row.
Germany and France dislike second choice Radek Sikorski, Poland's foreign minister, for his anti-Russia stance.
Author: Uwe Hessler
Editor: Susan Houlton/Sean Sinico