Merkel backs calls for EU army German chancellor’s coalition government extends support to EC President Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposal for a joint EU army.

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel

BERLIN (AA) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government has expressed support for the creation of a combined EU military force.

Her comments on Monday came as she was asked her response to a call a day earlier by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for European Union member states to develop combined military force.

German government deputy spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said at a press conference in Berlin: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel shares the view that there should be stronger and deeper military cooperation in Europe.”

Juncker told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that the EU needed a joint army to defend its values, react against external threats and increase its influence in international affairs.

“A joint army of Europeans would have given a clear answer to Russia that we are serious about defending the European values,” he said.

– ‘Long-term target’

Wirtz said EU member states including Germany had already started projects towards stronger military cooperation.

She said Berlin viewed an EU army as a long-term target and on-going process which currently did not have a fixed time table.

European leaders will continue discussions on the idea at a summit in June, she added.

Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats, also expressed their support for the idea.

SPD lawmaker and President of the Defense Committee of the German Parliament Hans-Peter Bartels said that EU should step up plans for a joint military.

“With the new European Commission, it is the right time to move forward with this great project,” Bartels said.

– ‘Ineffective military’

He argued that, with a joint military, EU nations could overcome the current problems of inefficient structures and duplication of military capabilities.

“We have a sufficient number of soldiers, we are providing a lot of money, but currently we are still ineffective,” he said.

Germany’s main opposition the Left Party criticized the plan and said it was aimed at Russia.

“This would be a contribution to escalation, not to de-escalation,” Left Party lawmaker and defense policy expert Christine Buchholz said.

She called for a peaceful European foreign policy which would focus on disarmament.

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