France’s Hollande calls for permanent EU crisis fund

To allow peacekeeping operations in crisis zones

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French President Francois Hollande called Thursday for a “permanent European fund” to finance emergency interventions in crises such as the situation in the Central African Republic.

Hollande said he would request the fund, which would be used before peacekeeping operations are in place in crisis zones, during next week’s European Council meeting in Brussels.

“Europe does a lot but it only intervenes from time to time. We need a permanent European fund, not a fund for each individual operation,” he said during a state visit to Brazil.

France has deployed 1,600 soldiers to the notoriously unstable majority-Christian country, which was plunged into chaos when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March coup, overthrowing leader Francois Bozize.

The troops are part of a United Nations-mandated effort to restore order.

Two French troops were killed Monday during clashes near the airport in the capital Bangui. Hollande visited the country following the incident.

“This is not about us (France) providing the armed forces on the ground and demanding that we be paid. We are neither the mercenaries nor the police of Europe,” Hollande said.

“I did not come to power to make war. It’s the circumstances” that led to French operations in Mali and the Central African Republic.

What started as rebel looting of villages and towns in the Central African Republic has degenerated into attacks between Muslim and Christian militias, with some U.N. officials warning of a possible genocide.

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