French Defence Minister Herve Morin interview on NATO, 26 March 2009
FRANCE NATO INTERVIEW GIVEN BY HERVE MORIN, MINISTER OF DEFENCE, TO THE WEEKLY "LE POINT" MAGAZINE (Paris, 26 March 2009), www.diplomatie.fr.
Q. - Will France's return to NATO's integrated command lead to changes in its operation?
THE MINISTER - I have explained to Robert Gates, US Defence Secretary, that there needs to be a radical change in the way the political committees work, that we have to stop these interminable monologues we hear in all the NATO bodies and concern ourselves with doing a substantive job on reorganizing the integrated command structures!
Q. - Is France going to put more effort into Afghanistan?
THE MINISTER - It's we who decide how much we put in, the forces we send to Afghanistan. Nothing will change here. Every NATO member decides for itself. Every NATO-led deployment takes place under a dual command, and the French political power can decide to halt or continue an operation at any time.
Q. - Has Nicolas Sarkozy achieved his objectives on Defence Europe?
THE MINISTER - No European is ready to barter Defence Europe for the Atlantic Alliance, which has been ensuring peace for 60 years under the American umbrella. We have been in the Atlantic Alliance since 1949, and its article 5 binds us as much as the other members in the event of an attack against one of them. I would add that the Lisbon Treaty refers to the Atlantic Alliance. In 2007, the Europeans saw France's insistence on European defence as weakening the Alliance. That idea is no longer appropriate. The British are commanding the Atalante operation against piracy off the Somali coast. This is a major political gesture and its importance is insufficiently appreciated in our country. Europe has launched an operation which NATO supports and the Russians, Chinese Japanese, Malaysians… have joined in.
Q. - But the British are refusing the creation of a European Command Centre!
THE MINISTER - Little headway has been made on this point, admittedly. Overcoming the reluctance of the British is still an objective, but they took a step forward by agreeing for us to conduct civilian-military operations from Brussels.
Q. - Is all this going to cost a huge amount?
THE MINISTER - The budget required for France to join NATO's integrated command is around €80 million a year, for 750 military posts on top of the 150 we have already got in NATO. This expenditure doesn't appear in the Multiannual Military Estimates Act and so will come on top of the defence budget. There won't be any additional manpower; personnel will be redeployed within the armed forces./.
Source: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, www.diplomatie.fr.