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19 Mar, 2019 02:38

‘NATO solidarity clause is called Article 5, not article F-35’ – French defense minister

‘NATO solidarity clause is called Article 5, not article F-35’ – French defense minister

Europe must move away from full dependency on American weapon supplies, the French defense minister stressed, slamming President Donald Trump’s “conditional” approach towards NATO and his European allies.

Expressing concern that Trump’s idea of NATO’s solidarity is “conditional on allies buying this or that equipment,” the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, wondered if the US commitment to the military block will continue to be “perennial.”

The alliance should be unconditional, otherwise, it is not an alliance. NATO’s solidarity clause is called Article 5, not article F-35.

Despite the White House pushing their allies to buy more American weapons, developing European autonomous capabilities in the military field is crucial to national security and essential to moving away from Washington's dominance, Parly argued, noting the US arms industry currently supplies NATO with 100 percent of its strategic bombers and missile defense systems, 92 percent of its drones, and 91 percent of its air tankers.

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In January, Germany’s Ministry of Defense officially ruled out purchasing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace its aging Tornado fleet and is currently considering upgrading its air power to a fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon. Competing against the Franco-German armaments cooperation is Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet. Unlike the Typhoon, the F-18 is certified to carry US-made nuclear bombs as part of NATO's nuclear sharing agreement.

While stressing that France and other NATO allies will do their “best” to spend two percent of their GDP on defense, Parly also called on the US to respect the “autonomy” of European nations to build up their own defense bloc independent of NATO.

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“Building a European autonomy should never be seen as a move against the United States,” Parly told the Atlantic Council, in reference to the idea of a joint European Defense Force as advocated by French President Emmanuel Macron. “We need to step up to help without waiting for the US to always foot the bill.”

Weary of Donald Trump’s NATO diplomacy and use of European security as a bargaining chip, last year French President Emmanuel Macron resurrected a decades-old idea of creating a “real European army” independent from its key partner on the other side of the Atlantic. While Germany voiced support for Macron's proposition to better protect the continent against the perceived Russian threat, Trump found the idea simply “insulting,” reiterating that NATO members must spend two per cent of GDP on their protection.

Also on rt.com Macron wants ‘real European army’ to combat Russian threat & end reliance on US

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