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.”


Rights group slams ‘inhuman’ treatment of migrants in Greece

Updated 2 min 24 sec ago
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Rights group slams ‘inhuman’ treatment of migrants in Greece

STRASBOURG: The Council of Europe rights body Tuesday condemned the “inhuman and degrading treatment” of migrants and asylum seekers held in Greece, adding it had credible allegations of abuse by police.
“Foreign nationals deprived of their liberty by the Greek authorities must be treated humanely and with dignity,” the Council’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) said.
The committee published the report after visiting the country — which has been at the frontline of the migration crisis in Europe — over ten days in April 2018.
“Conditions of detention were found to be grossly sub-standard in some of the police and border guard stations visited,” it said.
At one center in the Evros region in the northeast on the Turkish border, families, children, pregnant women and single men were held together for weeks and sometimes months in a center that offered just one square meter of living space per person.
It said such conditions “can easily be considered as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment.”
The committee also said it received “credible allegations of police ill-treatment (slaps, punches, kicks, baton blows and verbal abuse) from foreign nationals held” in the Evros region and at a camp on the island of Lesbos.
Other migrants claimed to have been driven back to Turkey by border guards.
The number of migrants arriving in Greece peaked in 2015, when more than a million people, most of them Syrian refugees, crossed over from Turkey, mainly by boat.
A deal struck between the European Union and Ankara in 2016 helped stem the flow.
However, the number of people attempting to cross the river Evros into Greece has increased since naval patrols intensified in the Aegean Sea in 2016.
The CPT recommended that Greek authorities significantly increase the number of centers for unaccompanied minors.
In 2017 it had denounced the conditions of thousands of migrants who were held in cramped cells lacking food and drinking water as unacceptable.
In a response included in the report, Greek authorities said that investigations into unofficial removals and ill-treatment by officers had found “no disciplinary liability” by the police.
They blamed the poor conditions of detention in the Evros region on “increased migratory pressure” at the time of the CPT’s visit.