‘Making Ourselves Be Respected’: Macron Calls For European Army As US ‘Focused on Itself’
© REUTERS / POOLFrench President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Richelieu site of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, after the completion of the renovation project and the 300th anniversary of the installation of the royal collections, in Paris, France, September 28, 2021
© REUTERS / POOL
Paris has a long history of promoting an independent European position towards Washington and NATO. While Europeans have slammed ex-US President Trump for undermining the transatlantic partnership, Macron has raised skepticism about the continued viability of NATO itself, advocating for Europe to have its own integrated military force.
European leaders should “come out of their naivety” and defend their independence from the United States, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed on Tuesday during a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“For a bit over 10 years now, the United States has been very focused on itself and has strategic interests that are being reoriented towards China and the Pacific,” he noted.
Saying that Washington has the “right to do so,” he pointed out that “we would be naive, or rather we would make a terrible mistake, to not want to draw the consequences.”
“When we are under pressure, showing that we also have power and the capacity to defend ourselves, is simply making ourselves be respected,” Macron claimed.
On Tuesday, Macron and Mitsotakis signed a contract supplying Athens with three French Belharra frigates. The construction of the frigates is expected to be entrusted to the French shipbuilding company Naval Group, which recently lost a contract for the sale of submarines to Australia worth about $66 billion.
The statement following the French-Greek defense agreement was said to be a response to the recent AUKUS pact, which prompted Australia to drop a multi-billion submarine deal with France. Macron said the deal with Athens underscores “the confidence as well as demonstrating the quality offered by France.”
At the presser, the French leader also announced that the French ambassador, previously recalled from the US due to the scandal over the termination of the submarine contract, would return to Washington on 29 September.
Parallel Structure to NATO?
Critical remarks by European statesmen towards Washington have become increasingly common and are viewed by many as a sign that the US and Europe are drifting apart.
Macron, in particular, has repeatedly proposed the creation of European forces for an emergency response to crisis situations. Notably, this view is shared by many European leaders, including former German chancellor Angela Merkel. NATO, which was earlier described by Macron as “brain dead,” needs a parallel structure due to the uncertainty of the US commitment to the alliance.
Apart from the infamous US departure from Afghanistan, the Euro-Atlantic relations have also recently been challenged with renewed vigour by the controversial AUKUS security pact, formed earlier this month by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
© AP Photo / Marko MummFILE - In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 file photo, France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with French soldiers of the NATO Battle Group at the Tapa military base, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Tallinn, Estonia
FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 file photo, France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with French soldiers of the NATO Battle Group at the Tapa military base, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Tallinn, Estonia
© AP Photo / Marko Mumm
Provisions of the defense and security partnership are expected to allow Canberra to replenish its submarine fleet with at least eight new nuclear-powered submarines, using British and American technology. As a consequence of the agreement, Australia has canceled its $66 billion deal with France for the supply of 12 conventional submarines.
The emergence of the alliance drew sharp criticism from a number of countries, including China, which called on its members to abandon their Cold War worldview and projects that violate the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Nevertheless, starting from next year, it will be France's turn to hold the presidency of the EU Council, and security is expected to become an important priority for Paris. A joint defense summit is planned for 2022 with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, which is expected to contribute to the creation of a 5,000-strong European rapid reaction force.
France and Germany are traditionally considered to be the "giants" of the European Union. It is not clear, however, whether Macron has the capacity to fill the void and achieve a stronger position in Europe, as one of the leading politicians in the EU, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, prepares to leave the office.