17:37 GMT +317 March 2018
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    Main Pacifist of Europe? Why France Reduces Its Military Budget

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    Despite hefty defense budget cuts in France, the country's strategy is actually aimed at increasing its military budget, General Dominique Trinquand, an adviser to President Emmanuel Macron during his election campaign, told Sputnik France.

    On Wednesday, France's armed forces chief, General Pierre de Villiers, stepped down following a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron over the country's huge defense budget cuts.

    De Villiers used stern language to criticize Macron's decision regarding an 850 million euro ($980 million) defense budget reduction.

    All this, along with Macron's mysterious phrase about his struggle with the "military-industrial lobby" prompts some experts to speak about France's almost pacifist plans, especially against the background of growing military budgets in other major European powers and "the militarization" of the Trump administration.

    In an interview with Sputnik France, General Dominique Trinquand, an adviser to President Emmanuel Macron during his election campaign, gave his thoughts on whether France would finally refuse an increase in military spending in favor of so-called "soft power."

    When asked whether the budget cuts herald the era of France's new strategy and new pacifism based on international law or diplomacy to promote France's interests, Trinquand said that such a scenario is unlikely.

    "The strategy is a 'subsequent period,' that is, an increase in the budget for 2018. To do so, it is necessary to bring public finances into a normal condition, which is why a decision was made to reduce the budget so that the [public] deficit was below 3 percent [of gross domestic product]," Trinquand said.

    He recalled that the French president had already decided to increase the army's budget, announcing a 5 percent increase in order to reach 34 billion euros.

    Then the Law on Military Planning for 2019 will be adopted, something that may help increase the military budget to 50 billion euros, according to him.

    "The strategy is aimed to increase the military budget rather than cut it. To that end, it's necessary [for Paris] to return to a balanced state budget," Trinquand pointed out.

    In light of the US, the UK and Germany preferring to increase their military budget, Sputnik France asked Trinquand whether France has decided to go against the strategy of its main allies.

    "On the contrary. All NATO member countries have set a goal of getting the public deficit under the NATO target of 2 percent of national output by 2025. France adheres to these criteria," he concluded.

    In late May, French Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard said that higher military spending aimed at meeting NATO's 2 percent GDP target is "an enormous effort" for France.

    The minister explained that the claim made by US President Donald Trump, who said that European countries do not carry a fair share of spending in NATO, was reasonable.

    Last month, an IFOP poll for Sputnik showed that a total of 53 percent of Italians believe that their country should not increase its defense spending in accordance with NATO rules, while in France and Germany less than half are in favor of reaching NATO spending targets.


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