EU must strengthen its defence: Munich Security Conference

Panel at conference
Panel at conference Copyright Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Europe “cannot afford the luxury of waiting more to get European defence organised,” said the conference chairman.

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The annual Munich Security Conference, which took place this year against the backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions and rising, ended on Sunday.

At the gathering, European leaders expressed their commitment to NATO, saying it is vital to strengthen EU defences and that member states must allocate more money for this purpose.

Conference chairman, Christoph Heusgen, said that Europe “cannot afford the luxury of waiting more to get European defence organised.”

Officials from the United States had the task of convincing their European partners that Washington remains committed to NATO.

This came after former US president Donald Trump suggested his country would not protect NATO member states that failed to meet the alliance's spending target. 

Meanwhile, Washington’s $60 billion (€56 billion) in military aid for Ukraine remains stalled in the House of Representatives, where Republicans are divided on the measure.

US President Joe Biden has assured his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that the military aid will be approved soon.

Israel Hamas war

One of the other burning issues at the gathering in Germany was Israel’s war in Gaza.

Speaking in Munich, Qatar said the country’s mediation efforts to reach a truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, are “not very promising”.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday again opposed the idea of a two-state solution, while for the Palestinian delegation it is of fundamental importance.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a gathering of Jewish leaders at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a gathering of Jewish leaders at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024.Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Qatari negotiators, however, reiterated their commitment to getting the warring parties to reach an agreement.

The EU’s policy chief, Josep Borrell, said that when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, European countries have to be more united “if we want to play a geopolitical role in this issue.”

As Israel’s offensive in Gaza continues, the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, told the conference it was crucial to achieve a ceasefire and for more international aid to reach people in the enclave.

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