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27 Aug, 2018 10:24

EU security must no longer depend on US – Macron

EU security must no longer depend on US – Macron

The security of the European Union must no longer depend on the US, French President Emmanuel Macron said. He also called for a review of the security approach towards Europe's partners, including Russia.

Europe can “no longer” entrust its security to the US alone, the French president said, speaking at the annual French ambassadors' conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

“It is up to us today to take responsibility and guarantee [the EU’s] security and, therefore, EU sovereignty,” he added.

Speaking about Brexit, he stressed that France wants to maintain "strong relationship" with London but “not at the price of the dissolution” of the EU. It is necessary to build "a strategic partnership" with the UK, he said, adding that he has “the same thought” about EU neighbors Russia and Turkey.

The French leader stated that he wants “to launch an exhaustive review of [EU] security with all Europe’s partners, which includes Russia.”

READ MORE: Macron greenlights military budget boost, but what is he aiming for?

Speaking about Syria, the president recalled the bombardments which France and its allies – the US and the UK – unleashed on the war-stricken country in April this year. "We will continue to do this [airstrikes] in cases” where it is proven that the government of Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on Syrian people, the centrist politician added. The April airstrikes were carried out in response to an alleged gas attack in Douma on April 7, which the West blamed on Assad’s government.

The US-UK-French operation started hours before a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was due to reach the city to inspect the site of the alleged incident.

Relations between the US and its NATO partners haven’t been smooth in recent months. During a NATO summit in July, Donald Trump demanded that the bloc’s nations spend 4% of their GDP on defense, doubling the current spending commitment that many member states are already struggling to meet. Back then French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke against the antagonistic conduct of the US president, accusing him of trying to destabilize European unity with his antics. “He is taking initiatives with respect to Europe, in particular in the field of trade, which are aimed at destabilization,” Le Drian added.

It is not the first harsh remark made by France towards its long-standing ally, the US. On the heels of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement in May this year, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire urged Europe to stop acting like “US vassals” and continue trading with Tehran in defiance of what “the global economic policeman” has in store.

Tensions between Versaille and the White House rose again shortly after when Trump slapped the EU with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as part of a trade war. Macron called the measures “illegal” and warned that “economic nationalism leads to war,” adding that this is exactly “what happened in the 1930s.”

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