Trump duns Europe for defense costs
American leader scores the French president’s suggestion to build a real European army
The United States wants a “strong Europe” and is willing to help its ally, but Europe must be fair when it comes to sharing the defense burden, US President Donald Trump said on Saturday.
“We want a strong Europe, it’s very important to us and whichever way we can do it the best and more efficient would be something we both want,” Trump said in remarks after being greeted by President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Insulting for Trump
Asked what he meant when he tweeted that he felt insulted by Macron’s comments that Europe should reduce its dependence on the United States for security, Trump said: “We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now the burden sharing has been largely on the Unit- ed States.”
Macron said he shared Trump’s view that Europe needed to finance a greater share of the Nato military alliance’s costs.
“That’s why I do believe my proposals for European defense are fully consistent with that,” he said, speaking in English.
European army proposal
Trump lashed out at Macron on Friday and fired off a note on Twitter saying Macron had 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,” Trump said, reiterating his demand that Europe spend more for its own defense.
The American leader made the remarks after Macron said on French radio on Tuesday that Europe needed a real army to reduce reliance on the United States for defense in the face of a resurgent Russia.
“We won’t protect Europeans if we don’t decide to have a real European army,” Macron said.
“Faced with Russia, which is near our borders and has shown it could be threatening—I want to build a real security dialogue with Russia, which is a country I respect, a European country—but we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States,” he added.
The European Commission executive echoed Macron’s call for a European military.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is a long-time supporter of the idea the European Union should have more common defense capability.
The commission’s chief spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas, said the EU was working to collaborate on defense procurement and research as well as de- veloping EU military peacekeeping capabilities.
“I don’t think that this defense identity will start with an EU army,” Schinas said.
“At some point in time, probably down at the end of this process, we may see something that people already describe as an EU army or an EU pooling of resources to make this EU defense identity more visible and more meaningful,” Schinas said.
Also on Friday, Britain’s Theresa May joined Macron on Friday to the end of the First World War.
Macron, who has spent the past week touring former battlefields of eastern and northern France, met May in Albert near the Belgian border for a working lunch as pressure to reach a deal on Britain’s EU exit mounts.
PARIS TOUCHDOWN President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Orly Airport in Paris on Nov. 9.