- Emmanuel Macron calls for the formation of a common European army.
- Europeans should not rely on the US alone. Russia stands at the European borders and can become a threat.
- On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, Macron is currently visiting various commemorative events and prominent sites of the war.
On a historic occasion, French President Emmanuel Macron has given new impetus to the debate on a common European defense policy. As part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, Macron called for the establishment of a separate European army. In an interview with the radio station Europe 1, he said that without a "true European army", Europeans could not be defended. In view of "Russia, which is at our borders and could become a threat", Europeans should "not rely on the US alone".
Macron justified his demand by warning against "authoritarian powers that are rising and arming on the borders of Europe." Europe must defend itself "with regard to China, Russia and even the US". The withdrawal from the INF disarmament treaty with Russia announced by US President Donald Trump is a threat to Europe. "Who is the main victim?" Macron asked – and gave the answer himself: "Europe and its security."
Highlight of the commemorative events with Trump and Putin
Already last year, Macron had suggested creating a "joint intervention force" for crisis missions in Europe by 2020. He also proposed a common defense budget and a common doctrine. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that Macron's proposals were "not a project immediately for tomorrow".
Chancellor Angela Merkel later revealed, however, more open to Macron's advance. "I am positive about President Macron's proposal for an intervention initiative," Merkel said in June Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, However, a European intervention force would have to be integrated into the existing "structure of defense cooperation" of the EU, said the Chancellor at that time.
Macron is currently on a round trip to striking locations of the First World War and visited Tuesday the battlefield of Verdun, where in 1916 in months of fighting about 300 000 German and French soldiers died.
This Friday, Macron in northern France will remember the Battle of the Somme of 1916 with British Prime Minister Theresa May. On Saturday, the French president wants to meet Merkel in Compiègne, north of Paris, to commemorate the cease-fire of November 11, 1918.
The culmination of commemoration events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War will be a grand ceremony on Sunday at the Paris Arc de Triomphe with dozens of heads of state and government from around the world. US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are also expected to attend.