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France and NATO 2

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France and NATO - Contribution by Laurent Fabius (International Herald Tribune - December 5, 2012)

AT the last NATO summit in Chicago, very soon after he took office, President François Hollande set out his vision of our country’s place in the Atlantic alliance: France is an ally that exercises its responsibility as a founding member and is committed to promoting common values but does not hesitate, if necessary, to air its differences honestly. This position is in line with the one the Socialist Party took in particular during the debate in 2009 on France’s return to the integrated command: allied yes, aligned no.

France's place in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

France is a founder member of the Atlantic Alliance and one of the key contributors to NATO

Since the end of the Cold War, France has consistently been one of the leading contributors of troops to NATO operations, providing forces of a high standard and high level of availability.

-  Kosovo: 6th largest contributor in 2012 (337 personnel), three times provider of KFOR command;
-  Afghanistan (ISAF): France was the 5th largest contributor in 2012, with a contingent of 3,500 military personnel.in budget terms, France is one of the biggest contributors to NATO funds. Member countries participating in NATO-led operations and missions incur the deployment cost of the forces they provide, and on this heading alone France is a major contributor to the Allied effort; France is also the 3rd largest contributor to the common funding budgets (civil budget: 11.42% - €28.1 million; military budget: 11.17% - €183.21 million), after the USA and Germany.

politically, France in the 1990s was one of the nations promoting the European pillar within the Alliance, of which the so-called Berlin Plus agreements are now one of the remaining legacies; France was also instrumental in building the NATO-Russia relationship.

France is actively involved in every aspect of NATO’s military modernisation process launched at the Prague Summit (NATO Response Force (NRF) and a streamlined command structure).

France’s return to the integrated command structure of NATO in 2009 prompted calls for a relaunch of European defence and for a renewal of relations between France and NATO.

France’s objective in rejoining NATO was to reinforce both European defence and NATO. A stronger Europe would make for a stronger and more credible Alliance, in which the European countries assume their responsibilities to the full.

In his report on the consequences of France’s return to the NATO integrated command structure, submitted to the President on 14 November 2012, Hubert Védrine stressed the need for France to maximise its influence within the Alliance and its efforts to reinforce European defence, working with its main European partners but without in any way calling into question the decision reached in 2009.

The most recent NATO Summit, held in Chicago on 20 and 21 May 2012, took account of France’s priorities:

-  Afghanistan: the announcement of France’s decision to withdraw its combat troops at end 2012 was understood and accepted. After the withdrawal of 1,000 combat troops, a force of just 1,450 military personnel will remain to carry out training of Afghan security forces and handle the logistics of disengagement. France would like to see planning for the post-2014 period specifically exclude any further combat missions except for the protection of NATO forces and international personnel;

-  the announcement of interim missile defence capability covering NATO European populations and territory satisfied clear specific requirements: political control of the system and the planned introduction of a multinational C2 (command and control) system specific to NATO; costs will be kept to a minimum through a common funding system devoted solely to developing a NATO command and control chain;

-   NATO’s defence and deterrence posture review also met strict criteria: no substitution of missile defence for deterrence; possible reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons stationed in Europe in the context of reciprocal steps by Russia; developments in disarmament and non-proliferation in the light of the changing threat environment;

-  adoption, as part of the "Smart Defence" initiative launched by NATO’s Secretary General in 2010, of a Defence Package comprising a number of projects (with France participating in six multinational projects). The package reinforces the role of the European Union in the field of military capability, in particular with its focus on the mid-air refuelling project backed by Airbus (a shortfall in European capability that was exposed by operations in Libya) and the fact that it will be led by the European Defence Agency.

Updated on : 01.13

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