The head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke on Saturday of the “serious crisis” caused by the torpedoing of a mega-contract of French submarines in Canberra, denouncing a “lie (…), a duplicity (…), a major breach of trust ”and“ contempt ”on the part of France’s allies.
Questioned on the television news of the public channel France 2, Mr. Le Drian thus justified the recall of the French ambassadors in Canberra and Washington by the fact that there was “a serious crisis between us”.
This measure, the first in the history of relations between Paris and Washington, “is very symbolic. There has been a lie, there has been duplicity, there has been a major breach of trust, there has been contempt so things are not right between us, ”he declared.
“We have called back our ambassadors to try to understand and to show our former partner countries that we have very strong discontent, that there is really a serious crisis between us”.
The recall of the French ambassador to London was, however, deemed unnecessary: ”we know their permanent opportunism”, he quipped a few months after Brexit. “Great Britain in this affair is all the same a bit like the fifth wheel of the coach.”
Over 56 billion euro submarine mega-contract
The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom announced on Wednesday a strategic partnership to counter China, AUKUS, including the supply of American nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra which effectively got the French out of the game.
France had signed in 2016 a contract of 90 billion Australian dollars (56 billion euros) for the supply to Australia of 12 submarines with diesel propulsion, often qualified of “contract of century” because of its magnitude. and its strategic scope.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs also ruled that the crisis would weigh heavily on the definition of NATO’s new strategic concept, without however evoking any exit from the Atlantic alliance.
“NATO has initiated a reflection, at the request of the President of the Republic, on its fundamentals. At the next NATO summit in Madrid, there will be the culmination of the new strategic concept. Obviously, what has just happened will have to do with this definition, ”said Mr. Le Drian.
“But at the same time, Europe must equip itself with its strategic compass and this will be under the responsibility of France in the first half of 2022”, he added, referring to the French presidency of the European Union in January 1st.
After the brutal withdrawal of the Americans from Afghanistan, without consultation with its allies, and this torpedoing of the mega-contract of submarines, “if the Europeans do not feel that in order to remain in history, they must unite and defend their own interests together, then their destiny will be totally different, ”insisted Jean-Yves Le Drian.