Saturday, October 23, 2021

EU rallies behind Macron as dispute between France, US and UK worsens

The Australian decision to scrap a $66 billion deal to buy 12 French diesel-electric submarines and at least eight more sophisticated nuclear-powered attack boats from Britain and the US was seen as a betrayal of French authorities. But being smart continues. London and Washington.

And there are some indications that the controversy will soon end.

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EU leaders are rallying behind France in a dispute over shelving the multi-billion-dollar French deal and Canberra’s decision to sign a tripartite Asia Pacific security agreement, known as AUKUS , excluding Paris, especially an alliance with the United States and Britain.

President Joe Biden, virtually joined by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, listens as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaks from the White House in Washington about a national security initiative, September 15, 2021.

Speaking after a meeting on Monday between EU foreign ministers held in New York on the sidelines of this week’s annual gathering for the United Nations General Assembly, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said foreign ministers “had a clear understanding with France”. expressed solidarity.”

Borrell rebuked Washington and London, saying there was a need for “more cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation” between Western powers in the Indo-Pacific, where China is the dominant emerging power and fueling alarm among its neighbors. Used to be. “One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable. We want to know what happened and why,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN.

french rage

Last week France withdrew its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington – a dramatic display of French anger. And French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who has accused US President Joe Biden of continuing the “unilateral, unpredictability, brutality” of his predecessor Donald Trump, says he intends to meet with his US counterpart Antony Blinken. No, while New York.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks with reporters as he arrives at the EEAS building in Brussels on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, to discuss the situation in Libya.  The ministers will also hold talks later on Tuesday, which will be…

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks with reporters as he arrives at the EEAS building in Brussels on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, to discuss the situation in Libya. The ministers will also hold talks later on Tuesday, which will be…

“I don’t intend to meet with Foreign Minister Blinken himself,” Le Drian told reporters on Monday. The French have also been avoiding the timetable for a phone conversation between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.

France has claimed that Australia had not consulted about the plan which the French once called the “deal of the century”. Australia says it has raised concerns for months with Paris over the contract, which was struck down in 2016. Australian politicians are insisting that French contractors were far behind the times. “It’s been a farce from day one,” former Australian Senator Stephen Conroy told Australian broadcaster Sky News. “It was a deal that was destined to fail,” he says.

French officials say they were informed in writing only hours before Britain, the US and Australia announced a deal last week that would make Australia only the seventh state in the world with a nuclear-powered submarine fleet .

France’s credibility questioned

While the main Australian decision rested on Canberra’s military assessment of its needs in the Indo-Pacific region, prompting an equipment upgrade, the move to pull France out of the tripartite defense agreement, bolstered the Anglo-America status of France’s credibility as a partner. -American skepticism abounds, say some former Western foreign and defense ministers and diplomats.

In this photo provided by the US Navy, Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) returns home at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam from deployment to the 7th Fleet Area of ​​Responsibility on September 13, 2021.

In this photo provided by the US Navy, Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) returns home at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam from deployment to the 7th Fleet Area of ​​Responsibility on September 13, 2021.

In the defense sectors in Washington and London, France is often seen as a frenzied, all set to gain commercial and diplomatic advantages over the United States and Britain, and to exercise an independent mind that sees it as an unpredictable Could make military ally going back to General Charles. De Gaulle’s 1966 decision to withdraw France from NATO abruptly.

Former British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt accused France on Tuesday of wanting to have its cake and eat it, with one leg in a US-led coalition while the other is pushing for an alternative French-led European defense alliance and Supporting the EU investment agreement with China. which provided better access to the single market in Europe than was given to Britain after Brexit. “France has long believed that Europe should build up an independent defense capability,” he wrote for Britain on Tuesday daily Telegraph Newspaper.

An alternative defense regime that undermines transatlantic ties with Washington cannot be imagined without British support, he says. He says, “The French are acutely aware that our central participation in a new Asian military alliance led by the US makes it very unlikely that any European alliance, with or without Britain, will ever be a US-led coalition.” would be a reliable alternative.”

Another former British foreign minister, Willem Hague, agrees “the petty French reaction to the consequent loss of a vast defense contract has been too little to elicit sympathy.” And he notes in a comment: “Paris doesn’t hesitate to do it the other way around.” But he says that as the AUKUS initiative develops into areas like artificial intelligence beyond submarines, it should be open to others, including European allies such as Canada and France, to join.

But analyst Olivier Gutta, managing director of GlobalStrat, an international security and risk consulting firm in London, believes Washington and London should have been much more diplomatic, and consulted the French rather than blind Paris Was and should have offered a piece of the new deal. “There was certainly a way to find consensus among the four allies, even when the US and the UK were brought to the table, such as splitting the contract into three,” he told VOA.

“It is quite ironic that Biden has turned France away because France has been one of the most enthusiastic people in the past few months to oppose China’s influence in the region,” he says. “In fact, back in March China complained about French military activities in the disputed South China Sea when it sent two warships there,” Gutta said.

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