Tue. Oct 26th, 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron has said Europe must stop being ‘naive’ and strengthen its own military might, following the signing of a security treaty between Australia, the US and the UK in the Indo-Pacific.

In his first comments since the so-called Aukus agreement was announced and a $ 36 billion submarine agreement led by Frans was scrapped, Macron stressed on Tuesday that “Europe must provide its own protection” and “solidarity” between member states tone.

In the Elysée Palace after the signing of a 3 billion euro frigate contract with Greece, he said: ‘We are forced to note that the United States of America and its strategic interests are a little more than ten years ahead has. . . We would be naive, or rather, we would make a terrible mistake, no. . . realize all the consequences it has for ourselves. ”

He added: ‘We need to respond and show that we have the power and the ability to defend ourselves. Do not escalate things, but protect us. ”

However, he said the US would remain an ally of the French and a strengthening of European strategic ties would not serve as a ‘substitute’ for the alliance.

The French leader’s call for a stronger EU defense strategy follows on the heels of anger in the country over the Aukus agreement, which caused the biggest diplomatic dispute among Western allies since the 2003 invasion of the United States.

The comment comes when Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis unveiled a military contract for the purchase of three Belharra frigates to be built by the state-run France Navy group, the same company that would supply 12 submarines to Australia that were canceled after Canberra opted for US submarines instead.

The Greek contract provides an option for the inclusion of an additional frigate should the Greek navy require it. Earlier this year, Athens agreed to acquire up to 24 French Rafale fighter jets.

Mitsotakis said the agreement would mean a ‘strategic partnership for cooperation in defense and security’, meaning that France would commit itself to supporting Greece if tensions with Turkey rise again. Greece would never forget the aid it received from France in the summer of 2020 when Turkey claimed potential foreign oil and gas reserves in disputed waters outside Cyprus, he added.

“Our agreement paves the way for an autonomous and strong future Europe. A Europe that can defend its interests in its wider environment, in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, in the Sahel, ‘Mitsotakis said.

The Greek contract was a “sign of confidence as well as proof of the quality France offers”, Macron said.

He reduced the impact of the cancellation of the Australian contract. The economic downturn would be ‘limited’ to ‘a few hundred jobs, especially in engineering’, because the submarines would be built in Adelaide, he said. France’s Indo – Pacific strategy would not be affected by it, Macron insisted, adding that the French ambassador to the US, who was recalled in protest of the Aukus agreement, would return to Washington on Wednesday.

Macron seized on the Aukus crisis to get the EU defense plans back on track, even though the French contract did not involve any other EU member states, noted Michel Duclos, special adviser to the Montaigne Institute. “The French were very good at placing the European flag on this issue,” he added.

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