The transatlantic diplomatic crisis strikes the great reunion of multilateralism at the UN: France once again displayed its discontent against the American government, Monday, through the voice of Jean-Yves Le Drian. Shortly before, Joe Biden arrived in New York for his first General Assembly of the United Nations which was to be the occasion to put forward the “return” of America as a reliable partner with its allies abused during four years of mandate of Donald Trump. A highly anticipated meeting, all the more so after the essentially virtual version of last year.
“Break of trust between allies”
But his message has been scrambled since his announcement, on September 15, of a security pact concluded with Australia and the United Kingdom to counter Beijing, nicknamed AUKUS. This new partnership set fire to the transatlantic powders, because it was done behind the backs of the French, who lost a huge contract for submarines ordered by Canberra. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs denounced, as he has been doing for several days but this time on American soil, a “brutal” decision, a “lack of consultation”, and a “breach of trust between allies”. This is akin to “reflexes of an era we hoped to be over,” he hammered, in a new clear allusion to the Trump era.
France, who recalled his ambassadors in Washington and Canberra in an unprecedented gesture, don’t get angry and let it be known. And she was able to rejoice in New York for the support of the EU leaders, rather silent until then. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, deemed “unacceptable” the way France was “treated”, in an interview on the American channel CNN. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, also denounced a “lack of loyalty From the United States and called for a strengthening of the EU’s “capacity for action” on the international stage. It is a “thunderclap” at the global level, estimated for its part the head of Belgian diplomacy, Sophie Wilmès, calling on Europe to be “more vocal” in the transatlantic relationship.
Seeming to want to clear the ground on the cusp of a week of all-out talks in New York, the White House announced on Monday the reopening of its borders to travelers vaccinated against covid-19, a recurring request from European allies . If the decision was taken on health grounds, the solution found is also the fruit of diplomacy, slipped a senior American official, suggesting that the timing was not unrelated to the transatlantic crisis. London and Washington had already tried during the weekend to coax their French ally. “Our love for France is unwavering,” Briton Boris Johnson said on the plane taking him to New York.
A phone call between Macron and Biden “in the coming days”
Faced with demands for “clarification” from Paris and Brussels, President Biden is “impatient” to discuss “the way forward” on the phone with his counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who has given up on going to New York, said a senior US official, confirming that the Democratic leader had requested such an interview. “We understand the French position” even if “we do not share it”, he added. This eagerly awaited phone call will take place “in the coming days”, only said Jean-Yves Le Drian, slipping that he had not, for his part, “planned a meeting” with the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken.