Publicly declaring, on Friday 18 November, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Thailand, that France had ” still ” an offer to sell submarines to Australia ” on the table “, Emmanuel Macron has formalized what until now was just an insistent rumor. Clearly, a year after the “Aukus” affair, this surprise alliance between Canberra, Washington and London, which had nipped in the bud the 9 billion euro contract that Paris had concluded with Australia for twelve conventionally propelled submarines, the France has not completely renounced the sale of submarines to Canberra, confirmed the President of the Republic.
After the warming of Franco-Australian relations with the election of a new Labor government in Australia in May, this reversal has often been hinted at by sources within defense circles, but never formally confirmed. The hypothesis had found force in September, when there was talk of a plan to transfer Macron to Australia. This trip was supposed to take place shortly before his next state visit to the United States on the 1stum December. It was eventually cancelled. The hypothesis of a new French offer in Canberra had also been fueled by the Australian press which, in September, had stated that the submarines offered this time were among ” four “.
At APEC, Macron did not provide any figures or details. However, the President of the Republic took advantage of what many Australian and American experts and officials had been indicating for months: the order book of builders across the Atlantic and across the Channel is full, if Canberra needs new submarines in a hurry to cope with the rise of China – that is, before 2040 – will have to find a temporary solution. the « prom card [de Londres et de Washington] is full”joked the head of state.
Nothing says, at this stage, that the new French offer is not mainly political, in one area, the Indo-Pacific, where France understood that it had to learn to play influence diplomacy better, failing to really flex its muscles on a strictly military level. Especially as other countries are in the running and potentially well positioned to provide backup submarines to the Australians. This is the case of Sweden, through its manufacturer Saab, which is the designer of the Collins submarines with which the Australian navy is equipped.
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