A new defense agreement between Great Britain, the US and Australia, known as AUKUS, sparked a diplomatic crisis between these countries and France. As a result of the pact, the French company lost a multi-billion dollar contract for the construction of submarines for Australia. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson assured Paris on Monday that he had no cause for concern and that his love for his Channel neighbor was unwavering. Australia’s deputy prime minister said his country had already proven its commitment to France by sacrificing its troops during two world wars. US President Joe Biden announced that he was going to call French President Emmanuel Macron to ease the dispute.
France reacted very harshly to the conclusion of the pact between the US, Great Britain and Australia, announced on Wednesday evening. One of the main reasons for the French outrage is that as a result of the pact, Australia terminated the contract signed for the supply of submarines by France, choosing instead US-British technology.
In response to the conclusion of the AUKUS pact, France recalled her ambassadors from Washington and Canberraalthough she did not recall the ambassador from Great Britain. As the French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune explained, Paris did not decide to do so because it perceives Great Britain as a smaller partner in this agreement and a vassal of the USA. Due to a dispute, the meeting of British and French defense ministers Ben Wallace and Florence Parly, which was due to be held this week in London, was canceled.
The head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian described France’s relations with the US, Australia and Great Britain as “a serious crisis”, condemning the “contempt” of France on the part of its partners. The French side expects meetings with partners from the US, Great Britain and Australia on the sidelines of the UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday.
London’s unwavering love for Paris
– Our love for France is unwavering. AUKUS is by no means a zero-sum operation, it is not meant to exclude someone, I don’t think this is something that anyone has to worry – especially our French friends – Johnson told reporters on Monday’s trip to the US where he will be attending in a session of the UN General Assembly, and will also meet with Biden. – We are very, very proud of our relations with France and they are of great importance for this country. This is a very friendly relationship – entente cordiale – that goes back a hundred years or more and is absolutely crucial for us, he added.
Johnson stressed that British and French forces are participating together in the NATO mission in the Baltic countries, participating in the operation in Mali, and carrying out joint simulations of nuclear tests. – British soldiers and French soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder. No two armed forces are more capable of integration and joint action. We are simulating tests of nuclear explosions together and in fact we are not blowing anything up, argued the British Prime Minister.
Joe Biden wants to settle the dispute
A high-ranking US official said that the US president wants to call French President Emmanuel Macron to ease the dispute after the announcement of an agreement under the new AUKUS pact.
“The president wants to communicate his will to work closely with France in the Indo-Pacific region and offer concrete joint ventures,” said the US official. He added, although Washington understands Paris’ position on submarines, it does not share it.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister: We do not need to prove our attachment to France
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also referred to the matter on Monday. “Australia does not need to prove its commitment, friendship and willingness to ensure France’s freedom and equality,” said Joyce, who replaces Prime Minister Scott Morrison during his visit to Washington. – Tens of thousands of Australians died on French soil or in the defense of French territory (…) during World War I and II – he stressed.
– Australia had deep and serious reservations about the delivery of French ships – said Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday, who rejected France’s accusations of “betrayal of trust” and “duplicity”, saying that he puts Australia’s national interest first to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / STEFANO RELLANDINI / POOL