French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during the annual French ambassadors' conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool Photo via AP)

France's president to talk European defense with Danes

August 28, 2018 - 2:59 am

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron came 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.

In a 1993 referendum, Danes won opt-outs from key parties of European Union policies, including defense matters and the shared euro currency. Several Danish governments have been in favor of getting rid of the defense opt-out and referendums on modifying the opt-outs have been held twice — and rejected both times.

After being greeted by Denmark's Queen Margrethe at Copenhagen Airport, Macron will have talks with Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

Macron laid a wreath at a monument for fallen Danish soldiers on Tuesday and will later participate in a debate with students later.

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