Trump duns Europe for de­fense costs

Amer­i­can leader scores the French pres­i­dent’s sug­ges­tion to build a real Euro­pean army

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - WORLD - —REUTERS, AFP

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.

EU back­ing

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.

—AP

PARIS TOUCH­DOWN Pres­i­dent Donald Trump and First Lady Me­la­nia Trump ar­rive at Orly Air­port in Paris on Nov. 9.

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