French president calls for ‘true European army’ to protect continent from China, Russia and ‘even the U.S.’

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has called for a “true European army” to defend the continent against Russia, China and even the U.S.

Macron, who has pushed for a joint EU military force since his election last year, issued the call in northern France in the run-up to the centenary of the end of the First World War.

“We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army,” Macron said in the interview at Verdun, the scene of France’s most bloody battle.

His call came as he was due to welcome Donald Trump, the U.S. president, and other world leaders, including Theresa May and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, to France to commemorate Armistice centenary this weekend.

Macron said the continent could no longer rely on protection from America, citing the recent decision of Trump to withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear treaty, and he even suggested its old ally posed a potential threat.

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“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron told broadcaster Europe 1 in his first radio interview since taking power.

“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” he said.

Faced with “a Russia which is at our borders and has shown that it can be a threat”, Macron added: “We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States.”

Trump had previously said that Europe could not bank on America’s protection if it failed to meet its annual defence spending commitment to Nato, prompting Macron to declare last month: “Europe can no longer rely solely on the U.S. for its security.”

While he enjoys good working relations with Trump, Macron has called the U.S. president’s America First isolationism “worrying.” Last month, he laid into Trump’s policies on Iran, Arab-Israeli peace, climate change and migration in a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York.

He said: “Nationalism always leads to defeat. If courage is lacking in the defence of fundamental principles, international order becomes fragile and this can lead, as we have already seen twice, to global war.”

The EU launched a multi-billion-euro defence fund last year to develop Europe’s military capacities. France has also led the creation of a military crisis force of nine countries, including Britain, operating outside the framework of the EU after Brexit. The European Intervention Initiative (EII) holds its first meeting today in Paris. But Britain has always argued against the idea of a European army as a competitor to Nato.

Defence analysts expressed scepticism yesterday over the concept of a European army. Bruno Alomar, professor at the …read more

Source:: Nationalpost

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