🔴 Watch live: Macron lays out foreign policy goals to France’s ambassadors

French President Emmanuel Macron called for a strengthening of France’s diplomatic efforts as the international community faces new challenges in his annual address to French ambassadors on Monday.

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France needs to consolidate its diplomatic strategies as the international context was becoming more “complex”, Macron told French ambassadors at a meeting in Paris on Monday.

The world order is changing, with the situation getting “tougher” and “more complicated”, said Macron. This runs the risk of “weakening the West and our Europe in particular”, he said.

“Our international order is being challenged,” said Macron. “War has returned to European soil, anti-French sentiment is rife, fuelled by anti-colonialism or a perceived anti-colonialism that a double standard is being employed,” he said.

“We need to be clear, without being excessively pessimistic,” he said, citing the rise of “new forms of protectionism” and democratic backsliding due to a rise in illiberal powers.

Faced with these risks, Macron said France’s diplomatic efforts should focus on security policy in the context of the war in Ukraine and in bolstering European independence and strategic interests.

The French president also stressed the need to “avoid partitioning the world” over the Ukraine war, at a time when many countries from the Global South have refused to condemn Russian aggression. We must “avoid a narrative that claims, ‘this is Europe’s war, it doesn’t concern us’”, he said.

France also seeks to be a “trusted partner” on the geopolitical front, added Macron.

Faced with global challenges, including security challenges, climate change and cyber threats, “our diplomatic efforts should keep it simple. We should protect our interests. We should also stand for our principles and our values, which are universal,” said Macron.

Macron denounces detention of French nationals in Iran

In a wide-ranging foreign policy speech, Macron called for the release of four French nationals detained “in unacceptable conditions” in Iran.

“Nothing justifies the detention” of “French nationals in prisons and in unacceptable conditions in Iran”, said Macron.

The four French citizens detained are Louis Arnaud, who was arrested in September 2022; French teacher Cécile Kohler and her companion Jacques Paris, arrested in May 2022 for “espionage”; and another French national whose identity has not been revealed.

France and its allies have denounced what they call Iran’s “hostage diplomacy”, which consists of arresting Western nationals in order to obtain concessions such as the release of its own nationals abroad.

Addressing the issue of Middle East security, Macron said a conference on security in the region will be held in late November in Baghdad. Amid new moves by Arab states to welcome Syrian President Bashar al-Assad back into the international fold, Macron called on regional powers to demand “greater cooperation” from Syria in the fight against terrorism if they want to reintegrate Damascus into regional bodies.

This reintegration must include “cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups” and the possibility for Syrian refugees to return to their country with a certain number of “guarantees”, he stressed.

Macron also praised the work of French diplomats working in difficult conditions. He mentioned the situation in Niger, where the French ambassador to the West African country is still in his post, despite a military coup last month.

The French ambassador has not left Niger, a former French colony, despite the junta calling for his departure. The ambassador is “staying put” in the post despite the junta’s pressure, said Macron.

“France and its diplomats have been confronted in recent months with particularly difficult situations in certain countries, whether in Sudan, where France has been exemplary, or in Niger,” said Macron. “I salute you and your colleagues who are listening from their posts,” he told ambassadors.

The military personnel who seized power in Niger on July 26 have been holding the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, prisoner in the presidential palace.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


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