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EC president: EU should be less dependent on NATO

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers a speech as he makes his State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on September 14, 2016. (Photos by AFP)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the European Union should have its own military and not be so dependent on NATO.

While addressing the European Parliament in his annual State of the Union speech in Strasbourg, France, Juncker said on Wednesday that the 28-nation bloc “should be stronger” and start an EU military headquarters and work towards a joint army. 

“We should work towards a common military force to complement NATO,” he said, adding that the European Commission should generally be more active in the field of defense in order to reduce its dependency on NATO.

He went on to say that the commission will propose a joint common European Defense Fund in the near future in order “to boost military research and innovation.”

Juncker, however, stressed that “more European defense in Europe doesn’t mean less trans-Atlantic solidarity.”

The commission president stressed that further military cooperation among EU states would help the bloc compensate for Britain's exit from the bloc. 

'European strategy for Syria'

Juncker also said that it was unthinkable for the EU not to be part of the negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict in Syria, and proposed the development of a common European strategy for the Arab country.

“The consequences for Europe of this conflict are immediate but where [is] the EU, where are the member states, in the negotiations to try to solve this conflict?” he asked. “I’m asking for us to draw up a European strategy for Syria,” he added.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini attends a debate on Turkey at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on September 13, 2016.

He suggested that the EU requires a general foreign affairs minister to represent its common interests on all international political matters, and recommended that EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini take on the enhanced role.  

"Federica should have a seat at the negotiating table on the future of Syria,” he said. 

This August 6, 2016 file photo shows militants firing towards positions of government forces in Ramouseh on the southwestern edges of Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Over the past few months, the Takfiri militants active in the Arab country have suffered major setbacks as the Syrian army has managed to liberate several areas.

According to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, more than 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.

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