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In Berlin, French president urges Europe to do more for own defense, security

In Berlin, President Emmanuel Macron of France renews the call for Europe to do more for its own defense and security, saying the continent cannot “become of plaything of great powers,” days after he irked the US by urging the formation of an independent European army.

According to Press TV, in an address on Sunday to the German parliament (Bundestang) in the capital, Berlin, Macron asked Chancellor Angela Merkel to support a range of reforms to strengthen the European Union (EU), saying it was up to France and Germany to help build a more sovereign and efficient Europe fit for the future.

The continent, he said, must not “become a plaything of great powers, must assume greater responsibility for its security and its defense, and must not accept a subordinate role in world politics.”

“Europe and, within it, the Franco-German couple have the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos and to guide it on the road to peace,” Macron told the lawmakers. “That’s why Europe must be stronger… and win more sovereignty.”

Macron – who became the first French president to address Bundestag in 18 years – highlighted the challenges facing Europe ranging from climate change to migration, speaking of a “Franco-German responsibility” in setting the stage for the “re-founding of Europe.”

He also urged pro-EU forces in the continent to take concrete policy steps in a bid to fend off anti-immigrant, nationalist parties on the rise in several member states.

Macron – who was in Berlin to take part in Germany’s national Remembrance Day for the victims of war and dictatorship – also held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a range of issues, including migration, fixing the euro, Europe’s defense and taxing digital companies.

The two leaders also joined a press conference, during which Merkel agreed with Macron’s assessment that Europe stands “at a crossroads.”

“As those who were born after the [world] war, we are responsible for what we have truly learned,” she said. “As [Macron] said, we are finding our way on many new tasks, and we also want to do this together.”

Merkel also spoke of “how important the German-Franco friendship and co-operation is, and what role it plays in the European context.”

In an idea warmly supported by Merkel, Macron said last week that Europe needed a real army to reduce reliance on the United States for defense, drawing a fusillade of angry tweets by US President Donald Trump.

Trump described Macron’s idea as “very insulting,” saying, “Perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly.”