Emmanuel Macron, France’s independent presidential candidate (Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)

Macron Tells Trump That France and U.S. Owe Each Other Respect

(Bloomberg) -- France and the U.S. must respect each other as allies that have a long history of military cooperation, French President Emmanuel Macron said, avoiding a direct jab at U.S. President Donald Trump after a public spat this week.

Macron Tells Trump That France and U.S. Owe Each Other Respect

“Between allies, we owe each other respect, and I don’t want to hear the rest,” Macron said in a live interview on TF1 television Wednesday aboard France’s sole aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea. “What French people expect from me is to not respond to tweets but to stick to this important history.”

He called for Europe to spend more money to become more independent from the U.S. military umbrella, saying that “being allies doesn’t mean being vassals.”

Trump took a swipe at France and the French president Tuesday, implying on Twitter that the country needed the U.S. to rescue it from the Germans in both world wars. He also mocked Macron’s approval rating, which stands below 30 percent. The French leader said that, in his view, Trump was “doing American politics” on social media. He cited U.S. and French history to explain the two countries’ alliance.

Macron’s comments from the Charles-de-Gaulle are a step back from earlier jabs at Trump on Sunday when he said nationalism was a betrayal of patriotism -- a pointed reference to Trump’s insistence that he’s “a nationalist.”

Independent Security

Trump has demanded that NATO countries spend more on their own defense and once questioned whether the U.S. should remain in the alliance. Macron floated the idea of a “European army” last week that would allow the Old Continent to become more independent from the U.S. The concept was backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Macron Tells Trump That France and U.S. Owe Each Other Respect

He commented again on it Wednesday, saying he wanted France to be autonomous in electronic surveillance, cybersecurity and space defense. He said France will decide in 2020 whether to build another aircraft carrier for as much as 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion), and it should depend less on its ally across the Atlantic Ocean.

“Can I tell our citizens that I will relinquish all your security in the hands of the United States of America? No, because I believe in our sovereignty, and in Europe’s sovereignty,” said Macron. “In some areas, sometimes we have relied too much” on the U.S., “and it wasn’t good.”

Still, he said that after he and Trump decided to put pressure Saudi Arabia and other producers to limit oil prices, the costs started to come down. The French president also underlined the two nations’ military cooperation in Africa and in the Middle East, as well as their common fight against terrorism.

“What matters to me, sincerely, is what we’re doing with U.S. armed forces,” Macron said.

His government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said earlier Wednesday that Trump would have been wise to show “common decency,” as his tweets Tuesday mocking France came on the third anniversary of the terror attacks that killed 130 people around Paris. Higher Education Minister Frederique Vidal told Quotidien television show that “one doesn’t do diplomacy through Tweets.”

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