CANBERA, Australia (NWN) – Australia said the leaking of French President Emmanuel Macron’s text messages to the media was a “new low” and a warning to other world leaders that his private communications with the Australian government could be weaponised. and can be used against them, the French ambassador said on Wednesday.
French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thébault addressed the National Press Club of Australia on Canberra’s decision to cancel a 90 billion Australian dollar ($66 billion) contract with France to build a fleet of 12 diesel-electric submarines. A scathing attack on the surprising decision of
The extraordinarily bitter bilateral dispute is demanding re-election by the two national leaders early next year. Doubts are growing as to how effectively the relationship can be restored if both Marcon and Morrison remain in charge.
France is undermining international confidence in Australia as its government tries to finalize a free trade agreement with the European Union.
Australian media on Tuesday reported the contents of a text message by Macron to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September in which the French leader asked: “Should I expect good or bad news for our combined submarine ambitions?”
Morrison used it as evidence that Macron knew the deal was in doubt after Macron accused the Australian leader of lying during a Paris dinner in June. Macron said Morrison had given him no indication that the deal would not go ahead.
France has condemned the leaks as another breach of trust.
“It’s an unprecedented new low, how to proceed and also in terms of truth and belief,” Thebault said.
“Doing so … sends a very worrying signal to all heads of state: beware, leaks will happen in Australia and what you tell your allies in confidence will eventually be used and weaponized against you,” Thebault said. said.
Instead of providing evidence that Morrison had not lied to Marcone, the message suggested that Australia had left France in the dark.
“It perfectly demonstrated that until the last minute, we had no idea where things were going,” Thebault said. “It perfectly demonstrates that we’ve never been told anything.”
Australia scrapped the deal when it entered into an alliance with the US and Britain to acquire a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines built with American technology.
Morrison says he did not lie to the French leader and it was clear that conventional submarines would not meet Australia’s emerging strategic needs.
Thebault denied Morrison’s account.
“The deception was intentional,” said Thebault. “The way it was handled was clearly a stab in the back.”
The French ambassador agreed with Macron’s assessment that Morrison had lied to him on several occasions.
“Maybe there is a difference between misleading and lying,” Thebault said.
“But, you know, between heads of states and governments, when you mislead a friend and ally, you lie to him,” Thebault said.
Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister who signed the French submarine contract and considers Macron his personal friend, joined the attack on his successor’s credibility.
“Scott has always been known to lie,” Turnbull told reporters. “He has lied to me on several occasions.”
When asked whether the Prime Minister’s Office had leaked the text of Macron, Morrison did not respond directly.
“I don’t think anyone will benefit from following this path,” Morrison told reporters in the United Arab Emirates.
“Claims were made and claims were denied,” Morrison said. “Australia decided not to proceed with a contract for a submarine that was not going to do the job Australia needed it to do, and I will never apologize for that decision.”
Dabolt and Philippe tienne, the French ambassador to the United States, were recalled to Paris following the announcement of Australia’s new nuclear propulsion alliance.
Etienne returned to Washington in September, but Thebault did not return to Canberra until last month.
Thebault said that France “find a way to act together again” with the United States.
The broken submarine contract had postponed EU talks with Australia on a free trade agreement that was set to resume last month.
Thebault said France had “no reason to interfere” in European Commission talks on behalf of the 27 member states.
He said one consideration in reaching such a business deal was “the quality of your partner’s signature”.