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Germany must become 'the best equipped armed force in Europe', Scholz says

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By AFP & Euronews
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference, 14 September 2022.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference, 14 September 2022.   -   Copyright  Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP

Germany is ready to become a leader on European security and must become the "best equipped armed force" in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Friday.

"As the most populous nation with the greatest economic power and a country in the centre of the continent, our army must become the cornerstone of conventional defence in Europe, the best-equipped force," Scholz said in a speech before the top personnel of the Bundeswehr.

Russia's war in Ukraine has been a turning point for German defence policy, with the country creating a special fund of €100 billion to upgrade its armed forces.

He said a previous defence minister had erroneously believed that Germany was surrounded by friends.

"At the same time, we are showing clearly and credibly that Germany is ready to assume leading responsibility for the security of our continent," Scholz said.

Scholz also urged European countries to take on more responsibility in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

"We Europeans must take significantly more responsibility in NATO. The fact that Finland and Sweden, two European countries with modern and capable armies, will soon be joining NATO is very welcome."

The German chancellor had been criticised for being slow to send military support to Ukraine but has since stepped up the country's support.

Scholz also said he supported setting up a "European headquarters" capable of "carrying out missions, whether it is an evacuation of our nationals, as last year in Afghanistan, or a European advisory or training mission, such as in Iraq, Mali or Niger".

He added that only "a coordinated increase in European capabilities will allow Europe to act".