Saturday, October 23

The French Ambassador to Spain: “The US alliance with Australia reveals a lack of confidence in its allies in the EU”


On the crisis in Ceuta: “Morocco’s attitude was not acceptable. You cannot play like that with the opening of borders”

The French ambassador to Spain
The French Ambassador to Spain, Jean-Michel Casa.ANTONIO HEREDIA
  • Asia The US turns definitively towards the Indo-Pacific
  • USA Biden quells Macron’s fury with a trip to Europe

The French ambassador to Spain, Jean-Michel Casa, warns of the consequences of Biden’s alliance with Australia and the United Kingdom and exudes some discomfort that Spain has not backed Paris quickly and firmly.

His economy minister said on Thursday that Europe can no longer count on the US, which has been seen in Afghanistan and now in the submarine crisis.
With Biden, a process that began with Trump and Obama has taken shape, a vision more focused on the interests of the United States, in the refusal to be trapped in long and distant conflicts. The Iraqi or Afghan experience has been very traumatic for Americans. And on the other hand, the idea, started with Obama, of pivoting towards Asia and the Pacific is consolidating, after the transatlantic relationship has been the dominant one for more than half a century. With Trump, the relationship with China became more conflictive. And Biden has confirmed this turn with the military alliance with Australia. It is the way in which this agreement has come about that has angered France. In secret, with lies and with the help of the United Kingdom, it is not clear what role it has played. With their eagerness to return to a Global Britain, their opportunism, the British are capable of any movement, now that they are outside the EU. This alliance has been woven without transparency, without consultations between allies such as the US and the EU.
So it is not only the breaking of the contract between France and Australia to build nuclear submarines, but the US commitment to other partners. But why has only France felt mistreated and not the whole EU?
We have had impeccable support from the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission and very clear support from the High Representative, Josep Borrell.
Have you missed a pronouncement from Spain?
Welcome everyone who wants to support. I must remember that it is not a French issue. The joint statement this week from Biden and Macron refers at all times to the EU. Of course, the US turn to the Indo-Pacific, the alliance with Australia, has affected France. The lack of American confidence in its allies has been revealed by the breaking of the submarine contract, but it affects all of Europe.
President Pedro Snchez has offered to mediate.
Goodwill is welcome, but so far we have spoken very quietly with the US. It is Biden who has insisted on speaking with Macron, understanding that perhaps the US has made a mistake with its behavior, to explain itself and seek solutions. If other friendly countries want to contribute, why not, but so far we have a very intense dialogue with the US. It cannot be said that the crisis is over, but we are trying to find a way out, also defending the interests of the EU.
France is in favor of creating a European army and the president of the Commission has said that she will promote it during the French presidency.
We, more than in a European army, insist on the concept of strategic autonomy, of European sovereignty. When we speak of Defense, we are aiming for more common European Defense, which may involve reinforcing industrial capabilities, arms production, through the European Defense Fund, or structured permanent cooperation, in various formats. Joint battalions that the EU can use when NATO does not want to intervene or serve within NATO itself. In the Sahel, together with France, more than 10 European partners participate to train and strengthen the special forces of the countries of the region. The US supports from outside. This is not within NATO, but it does not mean going against the Alliance or against the US that Europeans do things together.
But the US, with the agreement with Great Britain and Australia, and before that with India and Japan, what it tells us is that it wants other ‘NATOs’ that are not the Atlantic Alliance.
We have to be realists. Macron in the Trump era already pointed to a NATO brain death, there was no strategic vision, only that European countries should pay more. The American turn to Asia, the alliance with Australia, means that they are perhaps less interested in the transatlantic framework. We thought we had a privileged relationship with Australia, but the new Government has decided to break a contract that was already being executed, something unthinkable. If instead of his strategic independence he wants to have a total dependence on the United States, a relationship of vassalage, that is his problem.
What will be the priorities of the French presidency of the EU, in 2022?
First strategic autonomy, second strategic autonomy, third strategic autonomy. We have a lot of ambition for the EU. We hope to move forward. In defense matters, but also in digital matters, the transparency of global platforms and the green transition.
Spain and Morocco are gradually resuming their diplomatic relations. Do you see a solution for Shara in the medium term?
There are solutions that go through a job under the umbrella of the UN. We have excellent relations and a permanent dialogue with Algeria, and we have exceptional relations with Morocco. But despite this we were among the first to criticize the attack on Spain, with a wave of immigrants in May. We in our support of European colleagues and friends are never behind. The attitude of Morocco was not acceptable. You can’t play like that with the opening of borders.
Were you faster than Spain has been now?
I don’t want to compare. They are different situations. The use of migration as a form of aggression against Spain was also used throughout Europe. In the case of the Pacific, we are very happy with the support of the European institutions, our partner and great friend Germany has reacted very strongly, which is rare in its relationship with the United States, and we have also received very clear support from the whole. of the EU Foreign Ministers.
They have announced the withdrawal of troops from Mali …
No. We have said that we want to rethink it and that our presence there is desired, accepted by the local population. We have problems with the political leadership of the Malian military.
Isn’t that the same thing that the US is accused of in Afghanistan?
Nothing to see. We have not invaded the Sahel countries, we have not decided to impose a new regime. We were called in to fight the local terrorists. We are not occupying forces. The US wanted to build a new state, with a new Armed Forces, and from one day to the next decided to leave.

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