PARIS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron called here again on Sunday for European defense cooperation ahead of a traditional military parade celebrating the country's annual Bastille Day.
"Never, since the end of World War II, has Europe been so important. The construction of a Europe of defense, in connection with the Atlantic alliance whose 70th anniversary we are celebrating, is a priority for France," Macron said.
"Acting together and strengthening our capacity to act collectively -- this is particularly the challenge that the European Intervention Initiative, with other essential European projects, targets to meet," he added.
Macron then invited the leaders of member countries of the European Intervention Initiative (E2I) "to act together" for a rapid European intervention force which defends common strategic interests.
The E2I, proposed by Macron in September 2017, aims to bring together European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Spain and Denmark, to collaborate on planning, carry out joint analyses of emerging crises and react to them quickly.
Sunday's parade, commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, which marked the beginning of the French Revolution, was led by a marching group waving the flags of the 10 member countries of the E2I, symbolizing European defense cooperation.
Since taking office two years ago, Macron has endeavored to push for building a joint European Union military force, asserting that Europe needs to reduce its dependence on U.S. might.
At a press conference last August after meeting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Macron said that existing agreements between the two countries must be renewed so that there would be "an almost automatic" solidarity and "solidarity interventions" would take place, if an EU country is attacked.
In November 2018, he said in an interview with radio station Europe 1 that he wanted "a real European army" to protect the Europeans from the United States and other nations.
"That's why Europe needs to get stronger, that's why it needs to become more independent," he said a few days later when addressing German legislators in Berlin, calling for "more Europe" and a European army.
At the beginning of this year, Macron reemphasized the need for European defense cooperation during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In a Europe threatened by nationalistic tendencies, economic problems and terrorism, it would be particularly important that Germany and France "speak with one voice," Macron said.
The two sides then signed the Aachen Treaty which is committed to a strong, sustainable and sovereign Europe.
On June 17, Macron marked the debut of this year's Paris Air Show with the launch of a Franco-German-Spanish project to build the next-generation fighter jet, which he hopes will strengthen defense and security cooperation in Europe.