Friday, February 20, 2015 7:14 am
France has complained that its European allies were not doing enough to help fight terrorism and instability in Africa and demanded a fairer sharing of the burden.
In the last few years France has intervened militarily against al Qaeda-linked Islamists in Mali and to restore order in Central African Republic, but has struggled to rally support for EU missions from partners wary of military involvement.
With Islamic State now present in Libya and Boko Haram posing a threat to French-speaking countries in West Africa, Paris sees the militant threat in Africa growing.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian shook up an EU defence ministers’ meeting in Riga, the Latvian capital with a public appeal for other European countries to make a greater commitment to security in Africa.
Following attacks in Paris, Brussels and Copenhagen there was no longer any real separation between internal and external security, Le Drian argued.
“We must act both in our territories and in crisis theatres. Consequently … the burden of European security must be fairly shared out. I called for solidarity,” he said.
Le Drian said, for example, that the EU was having difficulty putting together 60 experts needed for a military training mission in Central African Republic and he complained that the EU has a 2,000-strong rapid reaction force, known as a battle group, on standby at all times, but has never used it.
Le Drian said the EU was putting its faith in U.N.-led efforts to end Libya’s conflict and there had been no talk at the meeting of military intervention.
Saying Boko Haram was becoming “perhaps the main threat for security in Africa”, he said France was asking Britain to be “more pro-active on the issue” and to work with neighbouring countries to contain the threat.