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French PM defends return to NATO fold

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-03-17

Prime Minister François Fillon has urged French lawmakers to support the government's decision to restore French membership of NATO's integrated military command, saying that France would be "faithful to the US but not submissive".

The French parliament was set to vote on Tuesday on whether to back President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to restore France's full membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).


French PM François Fillon addressed the French national assembly regarding France’s responsibility to NATO, criticising detractors for their “over privileging of the status quo,” seeing it as a legacy of Gaullism.


Sarkozy announced last week that France would return to NATO’s command, reversing General de Gaulle’s decision to walk out in protest over US domination of NATO.

Fillon has said previously that his government is ready to resign if it loses the parliament vote over NATO, though there was virtually no chance of such an outcome given the governing party’s strong majority.


Fillon assured parliament that France’s diplomatic independence would remain intact, and that the country would remain “loyal but not submissive” to the US. “Friendship is not to be confused with naïveté.”


“For those who preserve a certain idea of our Republic, France is still France,” he said.


“Between fascination and apprehension lies a middle ground, a pragmatic one, to renew the means and objectives of Franco-American and Euro-American relations.”


The PM aimed to dispel concerns about the future of Europe’s defence, explaining that the “last hurdle” for the French government was to “end this zero-sum game which consists of pitting Europe against NATO” and vice versa.

Date created : 2009-03-17