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6th Apr 2020

Sarkozy seeks to give EU greater world role

  • "Europe must progressively affirm itself as a first-rank player for peace and security" (Photo: EUobserver)

As France prepares to assume the EU's driving seat in July next year, president Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated he wants to turn the 27-nation bloc into a decisive player in the global arena – something he says would result in a fairer and more harmonious world order.

"Europe must progressively affirm itself as a first-rank player for peace and security, in co-operation with the United Nations, the Atlantic Alliance and the African Union", Mr Sarkozy said in the first foreign policy speech of his presidency on Monday (27 August).

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According to the French leader, it is time for Europe to form a common perception of the main global challenges and of ways in which to tackle them. He himself identified relations between Islam and the West as the main issue that currently needs to be examined.

"The European Union alone has accumulated, during the long process of building the community, the practical experience of a shared sovereignty that corresponds well to the demands of our times", Mr Sarkozy told his audience of 180 diplomats, stressing the EU bloc has at its disposal a broad palette of instruments, ranging from military force to humanitarian and financial means.

While outlining new ideas, Mr Sarkozy urged the 27-nation club to boost its common security strategy – namely to improve its conduct of joint military operations, to rationalize its arms procurement as well as boost countries' contributions to Europe's defence budget.

"The construction of Europe will remain the absolute priority of our foreign policy", France's Nicolas Sarkozy concluded, underlining that "France is not strong without Europe, just as Europe is not strong without France".

Different to Chirac

During his speech, president Sarkozy also reached out to new powers in Asia and Latin America, suggesting they should be granted seats at the UN Security Council table.

"France demands new permanent members – Germany, Japan, India, Brazil – and fair representation for Africa", Nicolas Sarkozy said, while also pushing for the G8 grouping of industrialised powers to expand to the G13. This would include China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

Compared to his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, the new French president has chosen a more pro-US tone, although he also condemned the US-led invasion of Iraq and called for a clear timetable for withdrawing foreign troops from the country.

On Russia, Mr Sarkozy used surprisingly tough words.

"Russia is imposing its return on the world scene by using its assets, notably oil and gas, with a certain brutality" Mr Sarkozy said, adding "when one is a great power, one should not be brutal".

Turning to Iran, he said the world must tighten the screw on the country's nuclear ambitions – by imposing new sanctions and offering new incentives to Tehran.

"This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran", president Sarkozy concluded.

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