Guy Verhofstadt on EU 'standing up' to Putin in 2018
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The Belgian MEP shared a map on Twitter showing the amount of cash spent by major powers in the world on defence, pointing out the EU spends as much as China. Mr Verhofstadt suggested the creation of a united EU army in the bloc could save millions on defence but instead claimed member states prefer to cling on to national sovereignty powers.
He blasted: “Here’s what non-cooperation costs us: EU spends as much on defence as China… and gets little power or security in return.
“Why? Because we cling to a failed and archaic idea of ’national sovereignty’ and a flawed dependence on the US.
“Only a strong EU is respected world wide.”
The figures, taken from Sipri, show that EU countries spend as much as $233billion per year on defence, compared to China’s $252billion.
Russia only spends $62billion and India $73billion per year.
On the map, the UK and the USA’s expenditures were also marked up respectively at $59billion and $778billion per year.
The Belgian politician’s call was not received positively by his followers.
One person replied: “Who exactly will command these glorious EU forces?
“Will they go into combat at the whim of the many ‘presidents’, or after a vote in the ‘parliament’? Or only if the French agree?”
And another one: “Military cooperation doesn’t require the EU. National sovereignty may be just an idea to you but to millions of Europeans, it’s their identity. Different languages, cultures etc. That is Europe, not a superstate.”
Someone else added: “And you’ll replace it with a flawed centralised army that each sovereign nation has veto’s over.”
And another one: “What a strange thing to say, it’s ‘archaic’ national sovereignty which drives USA and China (and Russia) to invest in ‘defence’. Like magical thinking.”
Someone else echoed: “So what you are really saying is that the EU is not working.”
It comes as the European Union’s foreign policy chief branded developments in Afghanistan “a catastrophe” on Thursday and said there had been a failure of intelligence to anticipate the Taliban’s rapid return to power.
Addressing the European Parliament, Josep Borrell said about 100 EU staff and 400 Afghans working with the EU and their families had been evacuated, but that 300 more Afghans were still trying to leave.
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He stressed Europe’s “moral duty” to rescue as many Afghans as possible who had worked for the EU in Afghanistan, but said it would not be possible to get them all out.
“Let me speak clearly and bluntly, this is a catastrophe,” Borrell said.
“It is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for the Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations.”
Western countries have been scrambling to airlift their citizens, Afghan staff and their families out since the Taliban took control of the capital Kabul on Sunday. Thousands of people have desperately tried to get past Taliban roadblocks and US troops to reach Kabul airport.
On Thursday the Taliban urged crowds of Afghans waiting outside the airport to return home, saying they did not want to hurt anyone, a day after the group’s fighters fired at protesters, killing three.
In his speech, Mr Borrell addressed concerns that a fresh wave of Afghan migrants might reach Europe, in a replay of the 2015 migrant crisis, when large numbers of people trekked across the continent, many fleeing conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
“Don’t call them migrants, they are exiled people, people who are fleeing to save their lives”, Mr Borrell said, rejecting comparisons with Syria as Afghanistan is much further away.
Mr Borrell said he was in touch with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who will host a virtual crisis meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers on Friday to discuss Afghanistan.
NATO wrapped up military operations in Afghanistan this summer after almost two decades following a US decision to withdraw.
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