Paris is on the move, the transatlantic crisis is coming to the UN

By SudOuest.fr with AFP

The crisis between Paris and Washington after the breach of contract for the sale of French submarines to Australia was invited to the UN, which opened its Annual General Assembly

Appeasement or a tense reunion? The unprecedented diplomatic crisis between the United States and France has been taking place since Monday in the corridors of the UN Annual General Assembly.

It was the announcement, on September 15, of a security pact concluded by the Americans with Australia and the United Kingdom to counter China that ignited the powder, because it was made in the back of the French, who lost in passing a huge contract for submarines ordered by Canberra.

The head of the French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian again denounced Monday, on American soil, a “lack of consultation” of the United States in the crisis of the submarines and the “permanence of reflexes of an era that we hoped it was gone ”.

“The subject is first and foremost that of the breakdown of confidence between allies”, and that “calls for heavy reflections between Europeans”, he declared during a press conference in New York on the sidelines of the Assembly. general.

Relatively silent so far, the foreign ministers of the countries of the European Union will examine on the sidelines of the UN Assembly the consequences of the new US-British-Australian strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, nicknamed AUKUS.

The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell should “report” on this meeting “with a statement”, announced a spokesperson for the European Commission. The Twenty-Seven had already planned to speak, during this traditional meeting in New York, about the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan imposed by the American government of Joe Biden, which also caused several gnashing of teeth in the Old Continent.

“Unshakable” love

London and Washington tried during the weekend to coax their French ally and by extension Europe. The White House announced on Monday morning the reopening of the American borders to vaccinated European and British travelers. But Paris, which had denounced in turn a “blow to the back”, a “lie” and a “major breach of confidence”, and recalled its ambassadors in the United States and Australia in an unprecedented gesture, does not take offense.

The French want the matter to weigh heavily in the ongoing redefinition of NATO’s strategic concept, but also in a form of strategic autonomy with which it would like to endow the EU.

Will the submarine affair push the Europeans to harden their position together with regard to the Democratic President, initially hailed for his desire to relaunch transatlantic relations with his allies after the tensions of Donald Trump’s mandate? All eyes will be on Josep Borrell’s statement.

Johnson cuddles Le Drian

Raised as rarely in recent days, Jean-Yves Le Drian has therefore set the tone, in the absence of French President Emmanuel Macron who has chosen this year not to speak at the UN General Assembly.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also tried to console his French ally on the plane that took him to New York.

The UK and France have “a very friendly relationship” of “immense importance,” Boris Johnson told reporters, before adding: “Our love for France is unwavering.” Not sure that these sweet words are enough to calm the anger of the head of French diplomacy who described London as “the fifth wheel of the carriage”.

Sign of persistent tensions, a meeting scheduled this week between French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and her British counterpart Ben Wallace has been canceled by France.

“Unacceptable”

The French government received on Monday the support of the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and of the President of the European Council Charles Michel.

Ursula von der Leyen, judged “unacceptable” the way in which France was treated within the framework of this security pact. “One of our Member States has been treated in a way that is not acceptable […] We want to know what happened and why, ”she told journalist Christiane Amanpour of the American news channel CNN.

Charles Michel denounced the “lack of loyalty” of the United States and pleaded for a strengthening of the “capacity for action” of the EU on the international scene. It is about a “thunderclap” at the world level, estimated for its part the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmès, while calling on Europe to be “more vocal” in the transatlantic relationship.

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