Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said Europe needs to stop being naive when it comes to defending its interests and build its own military capacity.
“The Europeans must stop being naive. When we are under pressure from powers, which at times harden (their stance), we need to react and show that we have the power and capacity to defend ourselves,” Macron told a news conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“Not escalating things, but protecting ourselves,” Macron added, Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, France was plunged into an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with the United States, Australia and Britain over a trilateral nuclear security deal which sank a multi-billion dollar French-designed submarine contract with Canberra.
Asserting “this isn’t an alternative to the United States alliance”, Macron said: “It’s not a substitution, but to take responsibility of the European pillar within NATO and draw the conclusions that we are asked to take care of our own protection.”
The French President’s remarks came after Greece sealed a deal for French frigates worth about 3 billion euros ($3.51 billion).
A Greek government source told Reuters that Athens, as per the agreement on Tuesday, agreed to buy three frigates with an option to buy a fourth for about 3 billion euros.
This comes after Athens had already ordered around 24 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets this year, making it the first European Union nation to buy the fighter jet.
Mitsotakis on his part said “this will tie us for decades”, adding “this opens the door to the Europe of tomorrow that is strong and autonomous, capable of defending its interests”.
Responding to a poser on whether this deal risked raising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Macron said the accord did not target a country specifically, but Greece, as the outer border of the European Union needed to be protected.
“I don’t get the feeling that in the summer of 2020 it was Greece that was bellicose in the eastern Mediterranean,” Macron said.
“As Europeans it is our duty to show solidarity with members’ states. It is legitimate that we commit to equipping it so it can ensure its territorial integrity is respected and that we commit to cooperating to protect it in case of intrusions, attacks or aggressions,” he added.