France Cries Betrayal Over Sunken Australia Submarine Deal
European Union (EU) leaders have expressed their support for France in its anger over a scrapped multi-billion dollar submarine deal with Australia after the latter signed up to a trilateral security pact with Washington and Britain.
The pact, known as the AUKUS, includes the sale of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and dented its relations with western countries ahead of the annual gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) scheduled this week.
However, in 2016, Australia penned a deal to buy French diesel-powered submarines but was canceled when the AUKUS pact gave Australia access to US technology on nuclear-powered vessels.
France has for several years pushed for a European strategy for boosting economic, political, and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region, which stretches from India and China to Japan and New Zealand.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was quoted as saying in a report by Al Jazeera that “more cooperation, more coordination, [and] less fragmentation” was needed to achieve a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region where China is the major rising power.
He expressed his “clear solidarity” for France, which is also a member of the EU.
“This announcement ran counter to calls for greater cooperation with the European Union in the Indo-Pacific,” he added.
On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the US of betrayal and Australia of back-stabbing.
He said that European leaders should think hard about alliances, accusing US President Joe Biden’s administration of continuing the “unilateralism, unpredictability, brutality and not respecting your partner” of his predecessor Donald Trump.
“We are allies. We talk and don’t hide elaborate different strategies. That’s why there is a crisis in confidence,” Le Drian said. “So all that needs clarifications and explanations. It may take time.”
The US, meanwhile, tried soothing France’s anger, with Biden due to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron on the phone over the next few days.