President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that Europe must stop being naïve when it comes to defending its interests and must strengthen its own military capacity after securing a € 3 billion frigate deal (3, $ 5 billion) with Greece and signed a cooperation agreement. Paris was embroiled in a dispute with the United States, Australia and Britain earlier this month over a trilateral nuclear security deal that sank a contract for French-designed submarines from multibillion dollars with Canberra.
“This (Czech agreement) comes after a period of rapprochement with the Czech Republic which was marked on the strategic level, but also a vision closer to what should be and should bring us the European defense policy”, declared the responsible to journalists before a visit by Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly to Prague on Thursday to sign the contract.
Most of the guns will be assembled in the Czech Republic.
France has also sought to bring European allies into military operations in Africa’s Sahel region, where it has some 5,000 counterterrorism troops fighting Islamist militants as part of efforts to encourage a broader European military strategy.
The Czechs are one of nine countries that have provided special forces to a European contingent. ($ 1 = 0.8537 euros) (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Angus MacSwan)