US President Donald Trump blasted French President Emmanuel Macron in a tweet moments after landing in Paris, saying his suggestion that Europe must create a European army was “very insulting.”
“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting,” Trump tweeted Friday.
Trump renewed his criticism of NATO, claiming the military alliance does not pay enough for mutual defense.
“Perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly,” he said.
Trump’s remarks could signal another high-level international meeting in which he spars with traditional American allies.
The US president is set to spend the weekend in Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the World War I. About 60 world leaders will participate in the events this week.
On Tuesday, Macron called for creation of a “real European army” within the European Union.
“We will not be able to protect Europeans if we don’t decide to have a real European army,” he said in an interview with Europe 1 radio, adding that Europe had to defend itself without depending “only on the United States.”
French President Macron calls for the establishment of a “real European army,” claiming that Europe is the chief victim of a recent US decision to scrap a major nuclear arms pact with Russia.
European leaders worry that Trump’s “America First” foreign policy is undermining long-standing Western alliances such as NATO.
Macron’s criticism of Trump came after the US president decided to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) — a key 1987 nuclear treaty with Russia.
The INF allowed the US to counter Chinese moves to build up arms in the Pacific but prevented Washington from deploying new nuclear armaments in response.
“Who is going to be the main victim [of Trump’s decision to leave the INF]? Europe and its security,” Macron underlined.
The US president declares plans to abandon a key arms control treaty with Russia.
The French president also suggested that since Trump took office, the US has been seen as a less reliable ally in Europe.
Macron is not the only European leader to raise the prospect of Europe beefing up its defense independent of the United States.
EU President Donald Tusk made a similar suggestion in May after Trump had withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, threatened a series of trade disputes with Europe and constantly slammed NATO.
“Europe must do everything in its power to protect, in spite of today’s mood, the transatlantic bond. But at the same time we must be prepared for those scenarios, where we will have to act on our own,” Tusk said.