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Emmanuel Macron makes his mea culpa with the countries of the East

Special Envoy to Bratislava (Slovakia).

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Emmanuel Macron makes his mea culpa with the countries of the East

Special Envoy to Bratislava (Slovakia)

This is the first time that a French president has come to speak at Globsec, the main forum in Central Europe for European security issues. His visit was therefore highly symbolic, due to Emmanuel Macron's liabilities in the region. Since the start of the war, his desire "not to humiliate Russia", to offer it "security guarantees", the dialogue which he maintained for too long with Vladimir Putin, despite the absence of results, had made France's foreign policy unreadable. The ambiguity of the French president's Russian policy had also thwarted his ambition to become the undisputed leader of the European Union. The Bratislava speech set the record straight by clarifying Emmanuel Macron's positions.

In many ways, the words spoken before the leaders of Central and Eastern Europe are historic. "There is only one Europe," said Emmanuel Macron, welcoming the "return" of Eastern European countries to the European family at the fall of communism. He referred to the “kidnapped West” of Milan Kundera and promised that neither the West nor Europe would be “kidnapped” a second time. But above all, he who usually never changes his mind, made a long-awaited mea culpa vis-à-vis the countries of the East who lived through the Soviet occupation in their flesh. "We haven't always heard that voice you carry," he acknowledged. Directly referring to Jacques Chirac, who, criticizing their support for the American war in Iraq in 2003, had asserted that these countries had "lost an opportunity to be silent", he humbly conceded: "We have lost an opportunity to listen to you." It was a salutary update for those countries that had never forgotten the contempt with which they had been treated. In Bratislava, the French voice was suddenly not the same. “You can count on France. She was sometimes perceived as arrogant or not interested in this region. Let us assume together what our Europe should be, a great democratic power.”

The comments were also clarified on Ukraine. Regretting the lack of consistency with which Europe had treated the region before the Russian invasion, Emmanuel Macron promised that Ukraine “will not be conquered”. The time is over for a compromise peace between Moscow and kyiv. "There can be only one peace, the one chosen by the Ukrainian people", he said, rejecting any idea of ​​a "ceasefire" or a "frozen conflict", which would only to fuel new wars. "We have to be prepared for this conflict to last and we have to be prepared to support Ukraine over time." That is to say, to provide it with the necessary security guarantees.

In this area too, the war changed the French president. In 2008, France, together with Germany, vetoed the entry of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. “At the time, we were unable to provide a European response. We provoked Russian vengeance without giving sufficient guarantees to these countries,” he admits. Today, while Russian aggression has made Ukraine “a major player”, Emmanuel Macron quotes the American diplomat Henry Kissinger, who after having been very opposed to it, today defends the entry of Ukraine in NATO. “I share his vision. We must give tangible and credible security guarantees to Ukraine”, even if he also knows that the lack of unanimity on the subject makes the integration of Ukraine into NATO at the next Vilnius summit “unrealistic ". At least this time, France will not be the country blocking the rapprochement with the Atlantic Alliance...

But we must also prepare for the future of Europe in a world where the geography of Russia "will not change" and where the next American administration will not necessarily be in phase with European choices. "I want to dismiss all fantasies: I don't want to replace NATO, not a Franco-German condominium," he told an audience that has often suspected France of working to weaken the Alliance. Atlantic.

The Russian war in Ukraine proved the French vision of a strategic Europe right. It pushed European countries to increase their defense budgets and to think about a new organization of the continent's security. “Emmanuel Macron’s strategic autonomy was a dream. We have made it a reality”, summarizes Olha Stefanichyna, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister. “Sovereignty is no longer a French fad,” welcomes the president. It calls on its partners to speed up the construction of a more sovereign European capability. While working hand in hand with the United States, European resilience, he warns, must continue to be built, particularly at the military and industrial levels. It is, he thinks, “the future of our continent”.

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