Macron urges European army to defend against Russia, US

Macron has been warning of rising nationalism as he prepares to host dozens of world leaders, including Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/Reuters)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Macron urges European army to defend against Russia, US

  • France has also spearheaded the creation of a nine-country force designed to be capable of rapidly mounting a joint military operation
  • Macron has been warning of rising nationalism as he prepares to host dozens of world leaders, including Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron called Tuesday for a “real European army” as the continent marks a century since the divisions of World War I, to better defend itself against Russia and even the United States.
Macron, who has pushed for a joint EU military force since his arrival in power last year, said Europe needed to reduce its dependence on American might, not least after US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty.
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron told Europe 1 radio.
“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,” he said in the interview, recorded Monday night in Verdun, northeast France, as Macron tours the former Western Front during week-long World War I centenary commemorations.
Faced with “a Russia which is at our borders and has shown that it can be a threat,” Macron argued: “We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”
The EU launched a joint multi-billion-euro defense fund last year designed to develop Europe’s military capacities and make the continent more strategically independent.
France has also spearheaded the creation of a nine-country force designed to be capable of rapidly mounting a joint military operation, an evacuation from a warzone, or providing aid in a natural disaster.
“Peace in Europe is precarious,” Macron told Europe 1.
“We have been hit by intrusion attempts in cyber-space and multiple interventions in our democracies,” he said in an apparent reference to Russia.
He also warned of “authoritarian powers which are reemerging and rearming within the confines in Europe.”
Macron has been warning of rising nationalism as he prepares to host dozens of world leaders, including Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Sunday to mark 100 years since the World War I armistice.
He repeated his warning Tuesday that he was struck by similarities between the world today and the financial crisis and “nationalism playing on people’s fears” of the 1930s.
“The peace and prosperity which Europe has enjoyed for 70 years are a golden moment in our history,” he said, warning that this was the exception rather than the rule.
“For millennia, it has never lasted so long.”


UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle'

Updated 2 min 16 sec ago
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UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle'

LONDON: The mother of one of the British Daesh militants suspected of murdering western hostages, lost a legal challenge on Friday that it was wrong for Britain to assist a US investigation which could lead to them facing the death penalty.
Britons El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey — two of a notorious group of British fighters nicknamed “The Beatles” — are being held by Kurdish militia after being captured in Syria last year.
The United States wants to extradite them and Britain has said it will not stand in the way of any future US prosecution that would seek the death penalty, waiving a long-standing objection to executions.
Elsheikh’s mother, Maha El Gizouli, had sought a judicial review, saying it was unlawful for Britain’s interior minister to provide mutual legal assistance in a case which could lead to prosecutions for offenses which carried the death penalty.
Her lawyers said the minister’s actions were flawed, inconsistent with Britain’s unequivocal opposition to the death penalty and violated her son’s human rights. However, London’s High Court disagreed and dismissed her claim.
“My priority has always been to ensure we deliver justice for the victims’ families and that the individuals suspected of these sickening crimes face prosecution as quickly as possible,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said.
“Our long-standing opposition to the death penalty has not changed. Any evidence shared with the US in this case must be for the express purpose of progressing a federal prosecution.”
The most notorious of the four of the so-called Beatles was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who is believed to have been killed in a US-British missile strike in 2015.
He became a public face of Daesh and appeared in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.
“This group of terrorists is associated with some of the most barbaric crimes committed during the conflict in Syria,” Graeme Biggar, Director of National Security at Britain’s interior ministry, said in a written statement to the court.
Britain has said it does not want the men repatriated to the United Kingdom and their British citizenship has been withdrawn.
British prosecutors concluded they did not have the evidence to launch their own case against the men but US officials then expressed frustration with the British stance of seeking an assurance that US prosecutors would not call for the death penalty, court documents showed.
However, last June, British ministers and senior officials decided the best way of ensuring a prosecution and to protect US relations was to seek no such assurance in this case.
That decision provoked criticism from opposition lawmakers and from some in the government’s own party who accused ministers of secretly abandoning Britain’s opposition to the death penalty.