French President Emmanuel Macron said he was ready to attract partners in the European Union to the exercises of the Fifth Republic’s nuclear forces, if these countries express such a desire. The head of state came up with such an initiative today, February 7, during his speech at the Military School of Paris, transmits International French Radio (RFI).
About 600 guests attended the ceremony of Macron on the defense strategy of France for the coming years. Among the invitees were military attachés of many countries, including Russia, Pakistan and Israel – states that have officially or de facto nuclear weapons.
The President of France touched on the nuclear arsenal of the largest country in Western Europe, a permanent member of the UN Security Council. This issue became important for the European continent when Great Britain, the second nuclear European power, left the EU. Aft of this, Europeans are concerned about the decline in US interest in joining NATO.
“France’s vital interests are now taking on a pan-European dimension,” Macron said. Therefore, he expressed a desire “to develop a strategic dialogue with European partners who are ready for this about the role of the nuclear deterrence policy in our common security.” At the same time, the president had in mind French nuclear warheads, which “number less than 300,” as he himself noted.
He further invited European partners to take part in the exercises of the French nuclear forces. However, neither the president nor the press office of the Champs Elysees after his speech has yet specified what form such joint exercises could take place.
Macron’s statement was considered by many local commentators to be a response to a proposal voiced from Berlin. Earlier this week, Johan Wadeful, a member of the ruling party Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), pointed out the advisability of creating a pan-European nuclear arsenal. The vice-chairman of the CDU faction in the Bundestag made his proposal in an interview with the German edition of Tagesspiegel. According to him, Berlin should consider “the possibility of cooperation with Paris in the field of nuclear weapons,” and France “should be ready to put its nuclear forces under the joint command of the European Union and NATO.”
In France, such a proposal was considered excessive. The idea of cooperation is “not to make nuclear weapons available to the general public, but to deepen the common strategic culture in Europe,” Paris explained his position.
In January 2018, Macron announced that France would completely upgrade its nuclear arsenal by 2035. For this, the Ministry of Defense of the Fifth Republic received a separate budget of 37 billion euros.
The tradition of making speeches on France’s defense strategy has existed since 1958: each president of the country touches on nuclear deterrence policies, which Paris considers fundamental in its security system.