To be or not to be: Common army of Europe
    Foreign experts on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  09 June 2023 - 15:36

    Samir Ibrahimov

    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen supported the idea of creating a common army of Europe.

    She made the remarks during a discussion at the "European Forum" organised by the WDR television and radio company.

    Ursula von der Leyen recalled that most of the European Union (EU) member states are members of NATO.

    "It is good that NATO exists, but NATO is not everywhere. There could also be scenarios when the EU needs to act, then we need to be able to act proactively," she said.

    When asked if she supports the creation of a European army, the politician replied, "I fully support it. But the biggest challenge is the decision to use such an army. Discussions on this issue still have to take place."

    The European Commission president stressed that such decisions must be made "at both the European and national level because sometimes it is a matter of life and death”.

    "But overall, thoughts on this issue need to be refined and deepened, but the direction is right," von der Leyen said.

    On the other hand, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that caution advised on the idea of an EU army.

    "Firstly, we have to solve the issues before us. Above all, it is necessary to strengthen European cooperation in the field of arms production. In addition, security in Europe can only be ensured through transatlantic cooperation," Scholz stressed. Thus, the German chancellor clearly does not see the need to create a purely continental army, separate from NATO.

    So, the question seems to be clear - whose position is more correct here? Which situation corresponds better to the interests of security of the peoples of the European Union - when all forces are given to the single coalition army of the NATO transatlantic bloc or when Europe, in addition, creates its own united army? That is, how big is the benefit of a potential European army?

    Prominent foreign experts answered these questions of Caliber.Az.

    This discussion is getting old, notes Estonian pundit Peeter Taim.

    “She [Ursula von der Leyen] proceeded from the fact that there was a weakening of NATO. In addition, for another 4 years, Trump was fooling around. Therefore, there was a need to discuss such an option. Now the situation has changed and there is no need for the EU army. But I think the discussion should continue. Given the very dangerous situation around the world, any measures to strengthen the security of our common European home should be welcomed and supported,” Taim believes.

    In turn, professor at the WeltTrends Institute for International Policy (Potsdam) Alexander Rahr said that Ursula von der Leyen has repeatedly said that she wants to turn the European Union into a powerful geopolitical player.

    "Her rhetoric here is clearly marked by a certain militarism compared to her predecessors. The idea of a European army is absolutely not new. This topic has been эchewed overэ in EU cabinets since the 1990s. There have always been countries in the EU that advocated greater autonomy for Europe, including in its relations with the United States. But the US has been silencing these conversations. They will never allow the creation of a military structure parallel to NATO,” the professor remarked.

    In his opinion, Chancellor Scholz and most European leaders understand this very well and have come to terms with it.

    “Where can we find the money for the EU army if all EU countries can hardly find money to pay 2 per cent of their national GDP to the North Atlantic bloc treasury?” Rahr questioned.

    Researcher of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs Robert M. Cutler expressed his attitude to the discussed question succinctly: "There will be no European army, neither detached from NATO nor having any relations with it.”

    Similarly, German political scientist, former deputy of the Bundestag Waldemar Herdt considers that "the idea of creation of the European army is a mare's fantasy".

    According to him, Germany, having destroyed its own army under the leadership of von der Leyen, now will try to create a European army although it has never fulfilled the condition of NATO membership - to invest 2 per cent of the gross turnover there.

    "In principle, too, the North Atlantic Alliance should have been dissolved a long time ago. It has lost its role as a defensive alliance because by actively intervening in conflicts in foreign countries, it has only brought war or destruction there. Name me one conflict that has been stopped by the intervention of NATO troops. Syria, Libya, Iraq, Serbia, Vietnam - I could go on and on. Everywhere the alliance troops were used, there was bloodshed, famine and devastation, which still lasts in certain parts of the world today," the politician said.

    He called the potential creation of a European army a tremendous folly.

    “Because armies are created to defend their territory and their homeland. You can call the territory of the European Union, but no one will call it home. Now, if someone attacked America - it makes no difference, to Texas or some other state - they would all together begin to defend their common homeland. But I do not think that the European Union has already become such a single homeland. For example, the Hungarians definitely do not want to die for the Poles, and the Poles will not take a bullet for the Balts. And the Balts generally do not want to fight for anyone. That is, to create an army that will not protect anything anyway, is another crazy idea. And those who come up with these ideas should be kicked out. I hope that pragmatists will come to power instead of them, who will establish normal relations between states. Each sovereign EU country has the right and will have to have its own army, subordinate to its parliament, and not to some bunch of fanatics gathered in Brussels,” the former member of the Bundestag concluded.

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