France’s Macron Talks With Danes About European Defense

French President Emmanuel Macron , left, shakes hands with Denmark’s Queen Margrethe as he arrives with his wife Brigitte at Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen Denmark, Tuesday Aug. 28, 2018. (Martin Sylvest/Ritzau via AP)

By JAN M. OLSEN

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron traveled Tuesday to Denmark for a two-day visit, hoping to build the relationships he needs to push France’s agenda of a more closely united European Union.

Macron wants Europe to take more responsibility for its own defense, saying the continent’s security shouldn’t rely so much on the United States.

Denmark has a defense opt-out in its EU ties, meaning it does not taking part in military matters. The Danish government and a majority of lawmakers want the defense waiver to be removed but are hesitant about calling a referendum on it since previous referendums on modifying the opt-outs have been defeated twice.

Macron’s visit came as France’s high-profile environment minister Nicolas Hulot unexpectedly announced his resignation live on national radio Tuesday, dealing a blow to the French president’s lofty green ambitions.

“Europe is not doing enough. The world is not doing enough,” Hulot said. “The planet is becoming an oven, our natural resources are being exhausted, biodiversity is melting like snow in the sun and it’s not always dealt with like a priority issue.”

Macron was greeted by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe at Copenhagen Airport and laid a wreath at a monument for fallen Danish soldiers. He will also talk with Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and join in a debate with students.

Off the official program, Macron will visit the site of the Feb. 14, 2015, terror attack in Copenhagen that left two dead and five wounded.

France’s departing ambassador to Denmark, François Zimeray, attended a freedom of speech event targeted by the lone gunman, Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, who sprayed the facade of the venue and killed a bystander. Zimeray was unharmed.

El-Hussein later was behind a second shooting outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue where a guard was killed. The shooter was shot dead hours later.

On Wednesday, Macron makes a two-day visit to Helsinki, where he meets Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Juha Sipila.

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