Tuesday, March 17, 2009

France rejoins NATO military command

Tuesday's move by French lawmakers to approve that country's return to being part of NATO's military command came as quite a surprise in the United States, since very few people apparently knew it had left. France's National Assembly voted Tuesday to endorse President Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to rejoin the military command over the fervent opposition of many, according to Cable News Network (CNN). France was a founding member of NATO but left in 1966 during a period of friction with the United States. Then-President Charles de Gaulle feared France would lose independence if it agreed to operate under NATO command. But France has continued to participate in most NATO military actions, including Kosovo and Afghanistan. The decision to rejoin the military command was up to Sarkozy, CNN said, and National Assembly approval was not required. But the debate sparked renewed controversy, with many lawmakers passionately opposed to the proposal. "You tell us this would mean more independence and more influence. It would probably mean less independence and less influence," Socialist Laurent Fabius, a former prime minister, told Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Reuters reported. "With this decision, France will return as a subordinate country and will lose its ability to represent another image in the world," argued Assemblyman Nicolas Dupont-Aignan. But Sarkozy's opposite view, that France would gain more influence in Europe and with the United States by rejoining NATO as a full participant, carried the day in Paris. "There will be more European weight in the way decisions will be made," said Assemblyman Louis Giscard d'Estaing, a member of the assembly's U.S. Friendship Committee. "The balance of power between the USA and Europe will be re-established within this French move." The vote in the assembly was 329-238.

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