France's View of Europe's Security Role

INTERVIEW: FRENCH AMBASSADOR

AMBASSADOR Gilles Curien of France, a specialist in security matters, is touring the United States on a special mission to inform Americans of the French view of European security. He talked with Monitor editors last week. Excerpts from the interview follow. On future European security:

The important point, as we see it, is to think about and to have a vision for the long term about Europe and security. This is the core of the problem. So for that reason, the German and French governments launched an initiative last autumn ... to build a common [Europeanu foreign policy, including security and later on defense. Why such a wish? We think that that's natural progress for Europe to go that way. We think that we have particular interests in certain questions.

On the role of the Western European Union:

We have said that if we needed at a certain time a military expertise for such security policy, we could rely on the Western European Union, [a group of nine European nations which focuses on defense and European unity]. And at that time, people start to question, what would you do with that Western European Union? Is that not a duplication of NATO? Is it in competition with NATO?

That's not at all in competition, and never a duplication. Everybody in Europe agrees that NATO is necessary, has its role, and has to fulfill its role completely and perfectly during many years - because always we need that stability in Europe.

But that doesn't preclude the possibility for Europeans to think about certain aspects of their security. And in WEU, we could have an instrument, if necessary, for doing that, or for military action even.

On the future of NATO:

If we want to have a good alliance, and everybody wants to have it and to keep an American presence in Europe, we have to [have] what I call a concerted practice of responsibility. Not an alliance of subordination where Europe then will do so and so if there is only a supreme commander.

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