EU security must no longer depend on US, says Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that he would put forward new proposals for the European Union to boost its security, saying the bloc must stop depending on American might.
"Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security. It is up to us to guarantee European security," he said in a speech to relaunch his diplomatic agenda.
His proposals will be unveiled "in the coming months", Macron told an audience of some 250 diplomats, lawmakers and international relations experts gathered to mark the return from the summer break.
"I want us to launch an exhaustive review of our security with all Europe's partners, which includes Russia," he added.
Macron's comments came after a string of gestures from US President Donald Trump distancing himself from traditional NATO allies.
Trump has repeatedly called into question the Western alliance's core commitment to mutual defence, while complaining that the US spends too much on military support for Europe.
Macron came to power last year vowing to overhaul the EU and has pushed for deep political reforms -- including a separate budget for the eurozone -- which have so far met with lukewarm support.
The French president, who will head to Denmark and Finland for a three-day trip from Tuesday hoping to shore up support for his EU shake-up, called for redoubled efforts to reform the bloc.
"We need to take new initiatives, build new alliances," he said.
"France wants a Europe which protects, even as extremism has grown stronger and nationalism has awoken," he said.
EU powerhouse Germany has given only muted backing to Macron's ambitious plans, but his call for greater European military cooperation echoes recent comments by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Writing in the Handelsblatt newspaper, Maas called last week for Europe to "take an equal share of the responsibility" and "form a counterweight" to Washington as Europe-US relations cool.
- Syria warning -
In a typically expansive overview of his vision of France's role in the world, Macron also blasted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning his regime was on the verge of creating a fresh humanitarian crisis in Idlib province.
The regime says it is determined to retake the northwestern province on the Turkish border -- Syria's last major rebel stronghold -- amid speculation of a looming Russian-backed assault.
"The situation is alarming because the regime is threatening to create another humanitarian crisis in Idlib province and until now has shown no desire to negotiate the slightest political transition," Macron said.
"This means reinforcing pressure on the regime and its allies, and I expect Russia and Turkey to take account of their roles and the commitments they have made," he added.
"Since day one I have considered Daesh (the Islamic State group) to be our principal enemy, and I have never made the ousting of Bashar al-Assad a condition of our diplomatic or humanitarian action in Syria," he said.
But he accused Assad of "creating thousands of refugees" and "massacring his own people".
© 2018 AFP