Australian PM greets ‘new start’ in ties with France


Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (L) spoke of a ‘new start’ in relations with France after greeting President Emmanuel Macron

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed a “new start” in relations with France during a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday, following a bitter row between the countries over a submarine contract last year.

“My presence here means a new start for the relationship of our countries,” Albanian said after arriving at the Elysee Palace.

Macron said the couple’s first talks since the Albanian elections in May “mark a willingness to build a relationship of trust between our two countries, one based on mutual respect”.

The statements, which followed a warm greeting between the two men and their wives in the courtyard of the presidential palace, represent a turning point in ties since the departure of former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

France cut diplomatic ties with Australia and Macron repeatedly accused Morrison of lying to him at a dinner they had in Paris in June 2021.

Albanian announced earlier this month that French submarine maker Naval Group had agreed to a “fair and equitable settlement” of Euros 555 million ($584 million) for Australia to end its decade-old submarine contract.

After the deal was announced, Macron recalled French envoys to both Australia and the United States over the furore in a serious and rare diplomatic crisis between leading Western powers.

France considers itself a great power in the Pacific thanks to its overseas territories, including New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and shares Australia’s concerns about China’s assertiveness in the region.

“My government strongly condemns Russia’s illegal and totally unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” Albanian said. “I commend President Macron’s leadership in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and the struggle of the Ukrainian people.”

The Australian government recently asked the United Nations to raise the country’s 2030 emissions reduction target.

Morrison’s predecessor as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said Friday’s meeting in Paris was a “great opportunity” to help Paris and Canberra get through a “very bad period” when the French government didn’t even “pick up the phone”.

“It’s important that that reset happens,” Albanian told national broadcaster ABC in an interview on June 24.

Originally published as Australian Prime Minister greets ‘new start’ in ties with France