EU divided over French plea for CAR military aid

No direct pledges of military intervention in Central African Republic after Brussels meeting

Brussels

France’s appeal for more help with its military operation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and a common fund for future interventions received a lukewarm reception on Monday, with European Union foreign ministers offering words of support but few concrete pledges.

The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, had asked for more logistical support and troops from fellow EU members to assist the 1,600 French soldiers trying to maintain order after clashes between Christian and Muslim militias battling for control of the capital left hundreds dead.

France is also pushing for the establishment of a common European fund that could be dipped into when conflicts arise overseas. The problem is that France’s enthusiasm for launching military interventions – in particular in its former colonies – is not shared by all its European partners.

Splits in the bloc on defence came into sharp focus earlier this year when the EU failed to come up with a common stance on lifting the embargo on arms deliveries to Syrian rebels. Britain shared France’s interventionist stance, but was bruised by a Commons defeat on military action and has so far been reluctant to commit anything other than logistical support to French operations in CAR.

Many nations are also preoccupied with internal economic difficulties and are wary of the cost and risk of sending troops into conflict zones. After a meeting in Brussels yesterday, the EU foreign ministers released a statement expressing concern about the “alarming” situation in the CAR. “The international community needs to act to stop the crisis from deepening further and we very much welcome the French intervention,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said.

There were not, however, any direct pledges from individual countries willing to send troops to CAR, despite Mr Fabius indicating on Sunday that two unnamed nations were considering it. After the meeting, the French minister said he was still expecting more pledges of support – including, potentially, military support – in the coming “hours and days”.

President François Hollande’s suggestion that the EU create a bloc-wide pot of money for funding emergency military interventions was also met with caution. “It’s an interesting idea, but it’s just an idea at this stage,” Frans Timmermans, the Dutch Foreign Minister, said. “If there are plans we will carefully look into them.”

Ms Ashton said that the issue of the common European fund would be discussed in more detail when EU heads of state meet in Brussels at the end of the week. In the meantime, it was “for member states to make the decision about how they want to use their resources in support of some of the challenges that we face”, she added.

So far, Britain, Germany, Poland, Spain and Belgium have all committed logistical support for the French mission in CAR, which was launched with UN support earlier this month to try to restore order after Muslim rebels seized power in March, prompting retaliation by Christian militias.

British officials have stressed that their support remains limited to transport planes. That lack of enthusiasm for deeper involvement is reflected across the bloc. Paul Melly, an Associate Fellow at the Chatham House think-tank, said European nations supported France’s efforts to stem the violence in CAR, but domestic issues remained their priority.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis