Diplomatic clash between Australia and France highlights implications of AUKUS militarist pact – .

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Diplomatic clash between Australia and France highlights implications of AUKUS militarist pact – .


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s participation in recent G20 and COP26 summits in Europe has been dominated by an escalation of the war of words with French officials, which threatened a major diplomatic split.
The immediate cause of the conflict is Australia’s cancellation of a $ 90 million contract with France to build a fleet of 12 diesel attack submarines. The scuttling of the long-standing deal was publicly declared in September, when AUKUS, an aggressive military alliance of the United States, Britain and Australia, aimed at preparing for war with China, was unveiled.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in June. Photo: Rafael Yaghobzadeh / AP

As part of the pact, Australia had access to US military technology to facilitate its construction of nuclear-powered submarines. It is very likely, however, that Canberra will simply buy off-the-shelf ships from the United States or Great Britain.

While the financial loss resulting from Australia’s abandonment of the French contract is undoubtedly a source of tension, it more broadly reflects the profound implications of the AUKUS agreement.

Declared without prior discussion with other NATO states, and explicitly directed against China, AUKUS has sidelined European powers, which have their own ambitions in the Indo-Pacific, and expressed concerns about at the prospect of a large-scale US-led confrontation with Beijing. France, in particular, which still has colonial territories in the Pacific, sees itself as a power of the Pacific.

Shortly after arriving in Rome for the G20 at the end of last month, Morrison announced that he and Macron had had their first phone conversation since signing AUKUS. While the readings of the discussion differed markedly on the French and Australian sides, Morrison described the call as the start of the “road back” to normalization of relations. Initially, the French ambassador was recalled to protest AUKUS and Macron refused to answer appeals from the Australian prime minister.

Morrison then pointedly approached the French leader for a photoshoot as the summit began, with the photos then released by his office.

The suggestion that tensions had subsided was immediately contradicted by Macron. Approached by the Australian media the next day, Macron said that “when you have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in accordance and coherence with this value”. When asked if he thought Morrison lied to him by failing to give notice that the French deal would be terminated, Macron replied: “I don’t think so, I know. “

Morrison’s problems then worsened when US President Joe Biden told Macron that the handling of the AKUS announcement had been “awkward.” “I had the impression that France had been informed long before the [French] the deal was not done, ”Biden said.

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