17:36 GMT07 April 2020
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    “Trump or no Trump, Europe needs to build a defense system of its own,” the center-right presidential candidate, said in an interview with Le Monde.

    François Fillon wants to make Europe less dependent on the United States and favors the idea of a European-Russian conference to discuss new security provisions in Europe.

    When asked by Sputnik France how Fillon, who has criticized Donald Trump’s rhethoric as “very aggressive,” was going to reorganizeEuropean defense if he is elected in April, Alexandre Vautravers, a political expert with the Institute for European Security (IPSE) and the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), said that the idea of a European defense alliance was not new.

    ”Fillon pitched the idea when Britain announced its decision to end its membership of the European Union and when Germany published a new “White Book” which is a way more ambitious, aggressive and global than any other security policy the Germans had ever had before. And, of course, this project coincides with Donald Trump’s arrival at the White House.”

    He added that all previous attempts to create an alternative to NATO had fallen flat.

    “All those attempts by Paris and London and Paris and Berlin failed because you don’t need to have another NATO where the Americans call all the shots. You need to have something different with a different mandate. Unfortunately, all those projects snagged on Article 3 of the NATO Charter on collective security, whereby an attack on any NATO member-state is considered as an attack on all. I don’t think any defense treaty between France and Germany would go that far,” he noted.

    Christophe Reveillard, an expert in modern history at Paris IV University, told Sputnik France that though still vague, [Fillon’s] project describes NATO as disoriented, poorly managed and inefficient.

    “Just like Trump, it calls NATO “obsolete,” but stops short of demanding its replacement. The impression is that [Fillon] wants to have a European defense cluster that would replicate NATO’s structure but would be run by Europeans. That would be a mistake,” he said. “If, on the contrary, he is careful not to openly call for NATO’s replacement in order not to scare off those who would like the alliance to stay, that’s a sign of political skill mastery.”

    What Fillon’s project is perfectly clear about, however, is the need to create a sort of a defense alliance with Russia.

    “This is exactly what Russia has been asking for the past 30 years. Russia has always wanted to bring its European partners to the negotiating table to discuss a common security structure in Europe whose members would talk to it instead of plotting against it,” Christophe Reveillard observed.

    “Fillon is the first European leader-to-be to articulate this idea loud and clear while, at the same time, maintaining close ties with Germany. Hopefully not with Angela Merkel,” he added.

    Trump’s “America first” message outlined during his inaugural speech on Friday stirred uncertainty in capitals across Europe as it made clear that from now the on Europe will have to boost its military spending without relying entirely on Washington.

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    defense spending, closer ties with Russia, European defense, Paris IV University, Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), Institute for European Security (IPSE), NATO, Christophe Reveillard, Alexandre Vautravers, Donald Trump, Francois Fillon, France
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