French President Emmanuel Macron – badly bruised in parliamentary elections that took away the absolute majority of his party group Ensemble – will focus on international politics during the final days of France’s presidency of the European Union.
The week ended with the meeting of the EU Council, the last chaired by France. The G7 will meet in southern Germany on Sunday. NATO members will meet in Brussels on Monday and June will conclude with the Lisbon Ocean meeting.
Ukraine topped the agenda of the EU meeting.
According to a 29-point conclusion written by the “France22” presidency, the Brussels group reiterated its “firm condemnation” of the Russian invasion, saying that anti-Russian sanctions will continue while providing military and macro-financial assistance to Ukraine. .
But the most expected outcome was that the EU granted Ukraine and Moldova the largely symbolic “(EU) candidate status”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the decision. But angry Balkan leaders criticized Brussels for their stalled bids to join.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama warned against any unreasonable hopes for a speedy trial.
“North Macedonia is a candidate for 17 years if I haven’t lost count, Albania for eight years, so welcome to Ukraine,” Rama said.
The Kremlin downplayed the decision. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called it a domestic European matter.
“It is very important to us that all these processes do not cause us more problems and more problems in the relations of these countries with us,” he said.
Macron said the EU leaders’ decision sent a very strong signal to Russia that Europeans support Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations.
Georgia has not yet received the credit.
According to an EU memo, the country suffers from a long list of shortcomings, including too much political polarization, state institutions that are insufficiently independent and accountable and corruption. A process called “de-oligarchization” has made insufficient progress, the memo says.
Macron, as leader of one of the world’s seven most industrialized countries, will join EU leaders Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen at Schlos Elmau in Bavaria for an annual G7 meeting, this time hosted by Germany.
A G7 communiqué says the group must deliver a strong signal of unity in such turbulent times. “Solidarity and close cooperation are needed to mitigate the effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the statement said.
Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa are also invited.
Aside from the situation in Ukraine, G7 members also seem concerned about China’s rise.
Much of the meeting will focus on promoting infrastructure and investment partnerships to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative, and “foreign and security policy cooperation”, including more assertive cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
Climate, food security and the fight against cybercrime in the form of a rules-based digital governance are also discussed.
The group of industrialized nations that now makes up the G7 was formed during the 1973 oil crisis with the US, West Germany, France, the UK, and Japan. This “Group of Five” then expanded to include Italy in 1975 and Canada in 1976.
In 1997, Russia was included in what became the G8. But after the takeover of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, it was expelled from the group.
‘Right to self-defense’
Most G7 leaders will then attend the NATO summit in Madrid between June 28 and 30.
The crisis in Ukraine appears to have accelerated the Alliance’s determination to re-strengthen itself.
According to a statement on NATO’s website, “strong military and financial support” is being provided “to help Ukraine maintain its right of self-defense”, stressing that it is “enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
“This builds on years of NATO training and assistance since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014,” the statement added.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, previously neutral countries such as Finland and Sweden have expressed their willingness to join the alliance.
NATO will also launch its main Strategic Concept, which will be reviewed every ten years.
The last Strategic Concept was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010. The new one will build on elements of the 2010 Concept that are still relevant and adapt to Europe’s new strategic order.
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Meanwhile, Macron tries to guide France through a maelstrom of geopolitical pitfalls.
Aside from the crisis in Ukraine, there is growing concern about China’s increasing influence in the Pacific, which directly affects French interests in New Caledonia and French Polynesia. There are also tensions with Australia and plans to build a stronger European defense force that is less dependent on NATO.
In a June essay published by the prestigious Montaigne Institute, former top diplomat Michel Duclot points out that the conflict in Ukraine has led to a split within the EU, with Macron more supportive of a dialogue with Russia against the harder line of the Baltic states. and Poland.
Duclot suggests Macron should position himself more strongly against Russia, while emphasizing NATO’s central role as a European defense mechanism.
France should also try to limit the effects of the sanctions on developing countries, which see the Ukraine problem as a purely Western problem.
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During a televised meeting with African Union leaders on June 20, Zelensky struggled to attract the attention of the few African leaders who showed up.
They were more concerned about the increasingly dire food situation developing in Africa as a direct result of the war between two of the world’s largest grain suppliers.
France can play a role in this, says Duclot. “It should listen more closely to the concerns of countries affected by the effects of the war and the sanctions,” he added.
Regardless of whether France holds the EU presidency or not, Macron is Europe’s “main counterpart to US President Joe Biden”, according to Duclot.
This means they need to discuss responsibilities-sharing in America’s increasingly strong focus on the Indo-Pacific region — where France also has significant interests in the form of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, islands surrounded by vast, French-claimed oceans.
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France’s relations with the US and Australia were dealt a severe blow with the establishment, in September 2021, of the AUKUS Security Pact between Australia, the UK and the US, which resulted in the cancellation of a billion dollar submarine deal with France. shipbuilder Naval Group.
But ties are being restored as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanian will meet Macron in France next week.
Plastic pollution and marine life
The last of the summits Macron will attend will be about nature. The United Nations Ocean Conference (June 27 – July 1) in Lisbon is co-hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal.
Launched in 2017, it provides a platform for heads of state and government, civil society representatives, businesspeople, academics and scientists to discuss the disastrous impact of global warming, pollution and overfishing on the ocean’s ecostructure.
The French government’s Biodiversity Agency plans to lead the way with the launch of a partnership for marine protected areas, biodiversity and climate change.
In February, Macron hosted the One Ocean Summit in Brest in northwestern France, where ideas were presented for an international treaty to combat plastic pollution, protect France’s Antarctica and develop protected marine sites on the high seas outside the jurisdiction of a country. †
Originally published on RFI