Macron ends French EU presidency with four world summits

French President Emmanuel Macron – badly bruised in the legislative elections that won an absolute majority for his party group Ensemble – will focus on international politics during the last days of France’s presidency of the European Union.

The week ended with the EU Council meeting, the last chaired by France. On Sunday, the G7 meets in southern Germany. On Monday, NATO members meet in Brussels and the month of June ends with the Lisbon Ocean meeting.

Ukraine topped the agenda of the EU meeting.

According to a 29-point conclusion drawn up by the “France22” presidency, the Brussels group reiterated its “resolute condemnation” of the Russian invasion, said that anti-Russian sanctions would continue while providing military support and macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.

But the most expected outcome was that the EU would grant largely symbolic “(EU) candidate status” to Ukraine and Moldova.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the decision. But angry Balkan leaders have slammed Brussels for stalled membership attempts.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has warned against unreasonable hopes for a speedy process.

“North Macedonia has been 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. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it an internal European affair.

“It is very important for us that all these processes do not bring us more problems and more problems in the relations of these countries with us,” he said.

Macron said the decision by EU leaders sends a very strong signal to Russia that Europeans support Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations.

Georgia has yet to receive this honor.

According to an EU memo, the country suffers from a long list of shortcomings, including too much political polarization, state institutions that are not sufficiently independent and accountable, and corruption. A process called “de-oligarchization” has not progressed far enough, the memo says.

Strong signal

Macron, as the leader of one of the seven most industrialized countries in the world, will join European leaders Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen at Schlos Elmau in Bavaria for an annual G7 meeting, which this time is hosted by the Germany.

A statement from the G7 says the group must send a strong signal of unity in these turbulent times. “Solidarity and close cooperation are necessary to mitigate the impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the statement added.

Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa are also invited.

Besides the situation in Ukraine, the G7 members also seem concerned about the rise of China.

Much of the meeting will focus on promoting infrastructure and investment partnerships to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and on “foreign and security policy cooperation”, which could include stronger cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Climate, food security and the fight against cybercrime in the form of “rules-based digital governance” will also be discussed.

The group of industrialized countries that today constitutes the G7 was created during the 1973 oil crisis with the United States, West Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Japan. This “Group of Five” then expanded with Italy in 1975 and Canada in 1976.

In 1997, Russia was included in what became the G8. But after its takeover of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, it was expelled from the group.

“Right to self-defense”

Most of the G7 leaders will then join the NATO summit in Madrid, from June 28 to 30.

The Ukrainian crisis seems to have accelerated the alliance’s desire to strengthen itself again.

“Substantial military and financial support” is being provided “to help Ukraine enforce its right to self-defence”, according to a statement posted on NATO’s website, stressing that this is “enshrined in the Charter of United Nations”.

“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, formerly neutral countries such as Finland and Sweden have announced their desire to join the alliance.

NATO will also launch its Key Strategic Concept which is revised approximately every ten years.

The latest 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 will show adjustments to Europe’s new strategic order.

Did NATO expansion drive Vladimir Putin to war?

Meanwhile, Macron tried to navigate France through a maelstrom of geopolitical trappings.

In addition to the Ukrainian crisis, there are growing concerns about China’s growing 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-based defense force less dependent on NATO.

‘Main counterparty’

In an essay published in June by the prestigious Institut Montaigne, former top diplomat Michel Duclot points out that the Ukrainian conflict has led to a split within the EU, with Macron more in favor of a dialogue with Russia against the more lasts from the Baltic States and Poland.

Duclot suggests that Macron should position himself more strongly against Russia, while emphasizing NATO’s central role as Europe’s defense mechanism.

France should also try to limit the effects of sanctions for developing countries, which see the Ukrainian problem as a simple Western problem.

30 countries pledge to do more to protect the ocean at the One Ocean Summit in Brest

In a televised meeting with African Union leaders on June 20, Zelensky struggled to garner interest from the few African leaders who showed up.

They were more worried 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 here, says Duclot. “He should listen better to the concerns of countries affected by the effects of war and sanctions,” he added.

Whether or not France assumes the EU presidency, Macron is US President Joe Biden’s “main European counterpart”, according to Duclot.

This means they must discuss the division of responsibilities in America’s growing focus on the Indo-Pacific region – where France also has significant interests in the form of New Caledonia and the French Polynesia, islands surrounded by vast expanses of ocean claimed by France.

China extends its military power to French borders with the Solomon Islands pact

France’s relations with the United States and Australia suffered a severe blow with the creation, in September 2021, of the AUKUS security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States which resulted in the cancellation of a billion-dollar submarine contract with French shipbuilder Naval Group.

But ties are mending as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is due to meet Macron in France next week.

Plastic pollution and marine life

The last of the summits in which Macron will participate concerns nature. The UN Ocean Conference (June 27 – July 1) in Lisbon is co-hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal.

It was launched in 2017 and provides a platform for heads of state and government, civil society representatives, business people, academics and scientists to discuss the disastrous impact of global warming, pollution and overfishing on the ecostructure of the ocean.

The Department of Biodiversity of the French State intends to take the lead, with the launch of a Marine Protected Areas, Biodiversity and Climate Change partnership.

In February, Macron hosted the One Ocean Summit in Brest, northwestern France, where ideas were presented for an international treaty to tackle plastic pollution, protect French Antarctica and develop protected marine places on the high seas outside the jurisdiction of a country. .

Originally published on RFI

Leave a Comment