Nuclear deterrence, influence, strengthening cooperation with Germany, redefining missions in the Sahel and West Africa: the President of the Republic presented, Wednesday, November 9, the new French defense strategy.
Emmanuel Macron assured that French nuclear deterrence “contributed” to the ” security “ of Europe, thus clarifying recent statements which had seemed to call this issue into question. “Today more than yesterday, the vital interests of France have a European dimension. Our nuclear forces therefore contribute by their own existence to the security of France and Europe.he said during his speech on the major strategic issues of France in Toulon (Var). “Let us be careful not to forget that France has nuclear deterrence and let us sometimes be careful not to dramatize a few remarks”he added.
On October 12, the Head of State had caused trouble by declaring on the France 2 channel that a nuclear strike ” In the region “ of Ukraine − implied: potentially in European countries that are members of NATO − did not come under the “fundamental interests” from France. “Our doctrine is based on what are called the fundamental interests of the nation, and they are defined very clearly. This is not at all what would be in question if there were a nuclear ballistic attack in Ukraine or in the region”he had said.
Emmanuel Macron, who has advocated a great deal in recent years for the strengthening of European sovereignty in the area of defence, also insisted on the anchoring “exemplary” of France within the Atlantic Alliance. He described a France “respected for its nuclear-armed status, engine of European strategic autonomy, exemplary ally in the Euro-Atlantic area, a reliable and credible partner”.
France’s ambition is to be “a power at the heart of European strategic autonomy, with strong Atlantic roots but at the forefront and pivot of the world”he insisted, unfolding the new French defense strategy and the geopolitical challenges to come.
In a context of hardening of the information struggle in the world, Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday that “influence” will be elevated to the rank of “strategic function” in the defense of France. “We will not be patient spectators”helping to spread false information or narratives hostile to France, and “convincing is clearly part of the strategic requirements”declared the French president, announcing that this fight will be endowed with “substantial means”.
“It is up to us to think about promotion” of the action of France, “without pride, but without unwelcome inhibition”, he added, presenting France’s strategic priorities. France should know “detect without delay” these forms of hybrid warfare that are waged against it, the “hinder” and “in our turn, but in the manner of a democracy, [les] get ahead, use it to our advantage in the digital and physical fields”.
“An attitude that would only be reactive, even defensive, could pass for a form of passivity, it will not be ours”added Emmanuel Macron. “Also, influence will now be a strategic function, endowed with substantial resources”he said, specifying that this would be done at the interministerial level, with “for its international application, a central role for the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs”.
The Head of State also pleaded on Wednesday for “strengthening ties with Germany” in terms of defence, even hoping for “decisive progress in the coming weeks”. Calling Germany a “indispensable partner”Emmanuel Macron assured that “on the balance of our partnership depends (…) part of the success of the European project”.
“Our forces are made to combine”he added, as Paris and Berlin tried at the end of October to restart the Franco-German engine after a series of disputes.
After consultations with its partners on the continent, France’s new strategy in Africa will be finalized within six months, Emmanuel Macron also announced on Wednesday, confirming the end of the anti-jihadist operation Barkhane.
“In the coming days, we will launch a phase of exchanges with our African partners, our allies and regional organizations to jointly develop the status, format and missions of the current French military bases in the Sahel and in West Africa”did he declare. “This strategy will be finalized within six months (…). It is essential and it is one of the consequences that we draw from what we have experienced in recent years throughout the Sahel region”he explained.
The French army left Mali in August, after nine years of presence, pushed by the junta in power which now works – even if it denies it – with the sulphurous Russian paramilitary group Wagner. However, it remains in the region and continues to fight against jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaida or the Islamic State group, which are gradually extending their activities to the countries of the Gulf of Guinea.
The announcement of the end of Barkhane has no immediate consequence on the French military system in the Sahel, which includes around 3,000 soldiers in Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, after having counted up to 5,500 men at the height of its deployment.
“Our interventions must be better limited in time. (…) We are not in fact intended to remain committed without time limit in external operations”justified the Head of State. “Our military support to African countries in the region will continue, but according to the new principles that we have defined with them”he specified. “It will be available at the level of each country according to the needs that will be expressed by our partners. »
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