'Why Would US Ensure Our Defence?' France Urges EU to Boost 'Strategic Autonomy' Amid AUKUS Fallout
12:10 GMT 18.09.2021 (Updated: 15:24 GMT 28.05.2023)
France earlier recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Australia amid Washington, Canberra, and London creating a trilateral security deal to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines instead of French-made conventional vessels.
French Secretary of Foreign Affairs Clement Beaune urged Europe to "strengthen [its] capacities for reflection, strategic autonomy, and defence" when speaking to France24
"Why would the Americans ensure our defence in [the] matter? It's up to us to do it!", he said, stressing that Europeans have "the expertise, the financial means, and the capacity to do it in Europe".
He also piqued the United Kingdom, saying that by leaving the EU, London had "returned to the American fold with an accepted form of vassalisation".
Beaune's comments come amid France's disappointment with the newly-announced defence pact between Washington, Canberra, and London, dubbed AUKUS, which envisages providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, therefore ditching an earlier French submarine deal.
"I do not know how we can trust our Australian partners now. And this was not [just] a move against France, this undermines Europe's trust because now it cannot have confidence in its partners," Beaune told the France 24 broadcaster.
'Major Breach of Trust and Contempt'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that NATO will have to take account of the "submarine crisis" prompted by the AUKUS deal. Le Drian also explained that the recall of the ambassadors to the US and Australia is intended to illustrate Paris' discontent and to re-evaluate the relations between the countries.
"There has been lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt. This will not do," Le Drian told France 2 television, saying that a "serious crisis" was now underway between the allies.
The minister also took a verbal shot at London, calling the United Kingdom "a third weel" in the AUKUS defence pact.
The deal between the three countries was earlier dubbed by France as a "stab in the back" and "betrayal", with Paris recalling its ambassadors from both nations. Washington and Canberra voiced their regret with regard to the withdrawal.
18 September 2021, 11:03 GMT
The trilateral defence pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia was described by the three as a means to "preserve security and stability around the world". According to US President Joe Biden, the deal ensures that allies in the Asian-Pacific region can counter "rapidly evolving threats".
Under the deal, Australia is set to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, but Canberra vowed that it would never deploy nuclear weapons on them.
While the deal never directly mentioned China, Beijing voiced its concerns regarding AUKUS, saying that it might undermine non-proliferation efforts and cause an arms race. The Western countries argued that the pact was not "antagonising anyone"
and is "not only about China".