Underwater fallout: France rallies EU support
The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom insisted on Monday that the diplomatic crisis would not affect their long-term relations with France, which is seething with a surprise strategic agreement on submarines involving the three countries that sunk a French submarine contract based in Adelaide. .
France has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia for the first time over the deal, and its anger shows little sign of abating.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in New York to represent France at the United Nations General Assembly, meets the foreign ministers of the 26 other countries of the European Union in New York, where he will discuss the consequences of the submarine agreement and of France’s vision for a more strategically independent Europe.
France won the support of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday, who told CNN that “one of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable. We want to know what happened and why.
As US President Joe Biden welcomes Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week, he will not see French President Emmanuel Macron, who will not attend the UN.
Instead, Biden is planning a call with Macron in the coming days, where he will outline the United States’ commitment to its alliance with France and outline specific steps the two nations can take together in the Indo-Pacific. , according to a senior US administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning for the leaders’ appeal.
The official said that while the administration understands France’s position on the issue, it “does not share its point of view on how all of this has developed”.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said a disagreement over “one decision” would not disrupt a relationship or hurt the position of the United States across Europe.
The submarine deal, known as AUKUS, will see Australia cancel a contract to purchase French diesel-electric submarines and instead acquire nuclear-powered ships from the United States.
The United States, Australia and Britain say the deal strengthens their engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and has been widely seen as a move to counter an increasingly assertive China.
Morrison today ignored the risk that the submarine deal could derail free trade negotiations with the EU.
He insists that Australia must act in its national interests and is convinced that the problems can still be resolved in the months to come.
“It is not an easy thing to do, to get an agreement with the European Union on trade. I think everyone understands that, ”he told reporters after landing in the United States on Tuesday morning Australian time.
Morrison is due to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on her trip.
“It would be naive to think that a decision of this nature was not going to disappoint, of course, the French. We understand that, ”the Prime Minister said.
“It was not possible for us to discuss such certain matters in our relations with other countries at the time.”
Morrison also spoke about Australia’s trade relations with various EU countries, including a defense contract with Germany.
“We’re looking to build even more of these relationships directly,” Morrison said.
Meetings with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven are also on the Prime Minister’s agenda.
Bernd Lange, who chairs the European Parliament‘s trade committee, warned Australia’s decision on the submarines had damaged confidence and was seen as an attack on European interests.
The German politician said some member states were struggling to find compromises on agriculture in trade negotiations.
“Some members could ask for more safety nets, more guarantees in such an agreement. So I guess the dialogue and negotiation will take longer, ”he told ABC radio.
Lange suggested the turnaround could make the EU more reluctant to cooperate with Australia in other areas such as clean hydrogen.
“The question of confidence and the question of safeguards will, I suppose, be the consequence of the situation we are facing,” he said.
He offered Australia to apologize to France for the “wicked” situation imposed on it.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese stressed that France is important in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Friends should treat each other with respect,” he said.
“The Prime Minister must ensure that he focuses not only on the announcement, but also on the details of the announcements.”
– AP / AAP
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