Florence Parly: “American reliability is not as great as in the past”

On September 15, France was taken aback by the announcement of a new strategic alliance between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, called “Aukus”. An alliance that signed the death of a major contract that had since 2016, with Canberra, the French company Naval Group, in which the State is a 60% shareholder for the construction of twelve submarines. After a first telephone contact on this subject, Wednesday, September 23, between the Head of State Emmanuel Macron and American President Joe Biden, the Minister of the Armies Florence Parly details the consequences of this crisis for military cooperation with her various partners.

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The cancellation of the submarine contract by Australia for the benefit of American ships was seen as a “stab” in Paris. Have your American interlocutors since given you any information justifying their decision?

The conversation between the President of the Republic and President Biden made it possible to take a step forward, the dialogue has resumed, which is a very good thing. The fact remains that the behavior of the United States has been very brutal, especially on the part of an ally, who moreover considers us as “their oldest ally”. But this is not a surprise, it has been several years since we have noticed this fundamental trend on the part of the American partner. This was manifested for the first time, in recent times, when, at the last minute, the United States faltered when it came to participating in strikes against Syrian chemical weapons in 2013. It s ‘has been vividly manifested in recent months with the unilateral disengagement from Afghanistan. It manifested again eight days ago. The other underlying trend, which is not new, is the United States’ focus on China. In this strategic analysis, Europe counts less and less. It is an observation. We are perhaps less surprised than certain European partners for whom the awakening is more brutal, but American reliability is not as great as in the past.

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What are the consequences for Europe, according to you?

The irony of the story is that the Europeans had just devised a strategy for the Indo-Pacific when this “Aukus” partnership was made public. This is proof that Europeans are able to jointly determine where their interests lie. They now understood that they had to be able to defend them wherever they are, also projecting themselves well beyond the limits of the European Union. [UE]. It is a work that we are going to continue which directly participates in the construction of a European defense. Europe has a unique opportunity to assert itself as a strategic power. This will be the objective of its very first white paper, the “strategic compass”, which will be adopted under the French presidency of the EU in 2022. We have the choice: either Europe faces it or Europe s’ erase.

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