PARIS - France is pushing its European partners this week to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions such as the operation France is leading in the Central African Republic.

The dispute exposes a divide between France, which has several military bases abroad and argues that Europe has a responsibility to former colonies in Africa, and countries such as Germany that are wary in today's economic times of intervening and spending taxpayer money abroad.

If European countries were to pitch in to such a fund, they would likely want to decide how that money is used. And they might not want France sending its troops to foreign theaters so often, and using the money to fund its own geopolitical ambitions.

French President Francois Hollande defended the Central African Republic intervention Monday, while paying homage to two French soldiers killed in combat amid sectarian violence in the largely lawless country.

If France "weren't there, no other army in this part of the world - Africa - would be able to launch such an operation to save lives and establish peace," Hollande said.

He called last week for a "permanent European fund" to finance emergency military interventions, before a U.N. peacekeeping operation can be put in place. He will push the idea at a summit of European Union leaders Thursday and Friday.

This fund could also be a step toward a common European defense system, an idea Hollande has been pushing to little avail.

At an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said it's up to the 28 member states to decide "how they want to use their resources."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will meet Hollande in Paris on Wednesday, said last week that the subject was still up for discussion.

The Poles support the principle of coordinating Europe's efforts in crisis situations, but want to hear the specifics of Hollande's proposal and the reaction of other EU countries, said Artur Habant, spokesman for Poland's mission to the European Union.