• Netherlands chides France, Germany over EU army proposal

The Dutch Prime Minister has rejected the idea of a European army proposed by France and Germany, stressing that the continent's safety could be guaranteed only through NATO.

"The idea of a European army is going way too far for the Netherlands," Mark Rutte said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting in Amsterdam on Friday.

"France and Germany are really jumping the gun. As far as the Netherlands is concerned, NATO remains the cornerstone of our defense policy," he added.

Rutte’s comments came days after French President Emmanuel Macron sparked controversy with his proposal for a "real European army" that could offer protection “with respect to China, Russia and even the United States."

The French president also expressed desire for reducing Europe's dependence on Washington and US weapons for its own security.

US President Donald Trump denounced Macron's idea as "very insulting," saying in a tweet that Europe should "first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also threw her support behind Macron's proposal and emphasized the need for Europe to boost its self-defense capabilities, saying that a European army could run parallel to the US-led military alliance.

"Only a stronger Europe is going to defend Europe. Europe must take our fate into our own hands if we want to protect our community,” she said.

Responding to Merkel’s remarks, Rutte insisted that NATO remained the primary guardian of Europe's safety and rejected the idea of a European army as an “illusion.”

"As far as I am concerned, it is an illusion to think that the European Union without NATO can guarantee her safety," Rutte said.

"NATO, and the United States within the origination, remains a crucial partner for peace and security in Europe and we will continue to point that out to our partners in our discussions," he said.

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Nov 17, 2018 11:58 UTC
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