By Lorne Cook
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRUSSELS _ France on Tuesday invoked a never-before-used European Union “mutual-defence clause” to demand that its partners provide support for its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and other security missions in the wake of the Paris attacks.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said all 27 of France’s EU partners responded positively. “Every country said: I am going to assist, I am going to help,” he said.
Speaking at an EU defence ministers’ meeting, Le Drian noted France’s military burden in the Central African Republic and Lebanon, and the need to provide national security while a state of emergency is in place.
He said EU partners could help “either by taking part in France’s operations in Syria or Iraq, or by easing the load or providing support for France in other operations.”
Article 42.7 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty states that if a member country “is the victim of armed aggression on its territory,” other members have “an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power.”
The clause is similar but less far-reaching than NATO’s Article 5, which designates an attack on one ally as an attack on them all, and was invoked by the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
Nonetheless, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said Tuesday that “France has been attacked, so the whole of Europe has been attacked.”
“We’re in a new situation in Europe. This is Sept. 11 for Europe,” Greek Defence Minister Panagiotis Kammenos told reporters.
Czech Republic Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said he doesn’t expect any French requests for troops.
“France is a big powerful country and it has its own capacities to cope with the situation however serious it is,” he said.