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Trump attacks Macron's call for EU army to defend against US as 'very insulting'

France is the strongest and most vocal proponent of a European defence force

Chris Stevenson,Jon Stone
Friday 09 November 2018 22:20 GMT
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President Trump and first lady arrive in France

Donald Trump has hit out at a call from French President Emmanuel Macron for the creation of a “European Army” to protect the continent from China, Russia and the US – labelling the idea “insulting”.

Earlier this week Mr Macron called for the creation of a “true European army” to allow the EU to defend itself from threats including Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump.

“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Mr Macron told France’s Europe 1 radio in an interview.

In a tweet before arriving in Paris for a weekend ceremony commemorating 100 years since the end of the First World War, Mr Trump said: “President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of Nato, which the US subsidizes greatly!”

The issue of Nato has been a constant source of frustration for Mr Trump, who presidency has been built on the foundation of “America First” policies. He has called on all nations in Nato, the majority of are European, to contribute a minimum of two per cent of their GDP towards the cost of the alliance.

Mr Trump has repeatedly called for the alliance to follow through on upping their financial contributions, with only a small number of Nato nations hitting the target.

White House officials have said that Mr Trump would make clear the importance of America to European safety and security while on his trip. Although leaders like Mr Macron will not likely take kindly to the tone in the US president's tweet.

The French president has pushed for closer defence cooperation between European allies since coming to power last year, but has been so far met with limited success amid foot-dragging by other member states.

In his interview with Europe 1, Mr Macron made clear that he believed the current international situation, including the US pulling out of several international treaties including the Paris climate change agreement and most recently the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) arms treaty with Russia, meant Europe needed to look after itself.,

“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.

“We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.

Emmanuel Macron calls for creation of a ‘true European army’ to defend against Russia and the US

“We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”

Mr Macron was speaking in Verdun, northeast France on Tuesday, as part of a week-long tour of battlefields leading up to First World War Armistice centenary commemorations in Paris on Sunday. Both Mr Trump and Mr Putin will be among the leaders attending that ceremony.

France is the strongest and most vocal proponent of an EU army but Germany has also tentatively endorsed Mr Macron’s proposals for a joint command structure for military interventions.

A number of proposals have been put on the table for how EU nations could cooperate more closely on defence. The European Commission says closer defence cooperation “is not about creating an EU army”.

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