The president was “quite right” to demand independence from Europe, says Bruno Le Maire
French President Emmanuel Macron was right to distance himself from Washington’s divisive China policy, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday. Macron’s claims about European ‘autonomy’ have, however, been strictly rhetorical so far.
Speaking to Politico during a trip to China last week, Macron insisted Europe must avoid “inspiring us from the American agenda” and remain neutral on the Taiwan question. “Europe is facing a great risk” he said, if he “finds itself caught in crises that are not ours.
Macron “is perfectly right to demand European independence and sovereignty as he has been doing since 2017”, The Mayor told French radio Europe 1 on Tuesday. “We are obviously allies of the United States,” He continued. “We share the same values, we share a lot of common economic interests. But just because we’re allies of the United States doesn’t mean we have to be against China.
Paris has an economic interest in avoiding confrontation with Beijing. During Macron’s visit, seven major French companies, including Airbus, energy company EDF and shipbuilder CMA-CGM, signed or extended contracts with Chinese firms.
“We choose the path of dialogue”, said the mayor. “Isn’t that preferable to a logic of confrontation and acceleration of any conflict?
Since the start of his first term in 2017, Macron has talked a lot about reducing Europe’s dependence on the United States, particularly in the field of defence. However, the French leader stopped criticizing NATO once the Russian military operation in Ukraine began last year. France has since joined the United States in supplying arms and ammunition to Kiev, while supporting EU sanctions against Moscow, even as the resulting economic damage to France has contributed to public unrest.
Macron’s attempts to position himself as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia have also failed. Phone calls between the French president and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, were in vain, while a supposed Frenchman peace plan has already been roughed up by the Kremlin.
“Paris can hardly aspire to be a mediator at this time, because Paris is in fact siding with one of the participants in the conflict”, Kremlins spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday, adding that France is “directly and indirectly” involved on the Ukrainian side.
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