France’s EU Presidency; An Opportunity for Macron to Revive European Identity

2021/12/28 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - Interview: A faculty member of the University of Tehran said: Macron is very lucky that during the elections he can advance some of his policies within the framework of European convergence by presiding over the European Union. This increases his political power and influence.

Speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Hadi Dolatabadi, while referring to the escalation of the arms race between Washington and Paris, as well as the challenge of the agreement between France and Greece after the US agreed to the possible sale of frigates to Athens, said: Coinciding with the announcement of a deal to sell French frigates to Greece, the Greek government announced plans to extend one-year defense contracts with the United States to five years, indicating the Greek government’s fear of the United States regarding the purchase of weapons from France.

He described cancellation of the agreement for the purchase of French submarines by Australia as a major blow to the economy of that country based on arms exports, and said: French officials thought that in Biden’s time American unilateralism will fade away, but with such developments, it became clear to the officials of that country that they could not expect such a change.

The analyst of France affairs, saying that whenever the US presence in the Middle East has diminished, France tried to increase its presence, referred to Emmanuel Macron’s recent Middle East trip, a major arms deal with the UAE, and the UAE threat to cancel purchase of the F-35 fighters from the US and continued: It seems that simultaneously France is taking an aggressive approach in the arms race with the United States and with recent agreements is trying to prove itself strong against the United States.

Stating that the one of the reasons for the US aggressive approach towards France’s trade and defense partners is to have influence on this country’s election, Dolatabadi said: In recent months, we have witnessed a crisis in the French presidential election campaign for Emmanuel Macron; in recent years, he considered Marine Le Pen, a member of France’s far right front as his main rival. Le Pen won twice as many votes as her father in the elections, indicating that votes for the far right in France had doubled in 15 years.

He added: In this round of the French elections, we are witnessing the presence of a phenomenon called ‘Eric Zemmour’, who is a far-right and controversial journalist that has a more aggressive and intellectual discourse that focuses on points that are of public interest. Ms. Valerie Pecresse, on the other hand, also has won the French intra-party right-wing elections. Under such a situation, Macron feels the danger very much and does not see the situation as before, when his only rival was Ms. Le Pen.

US abuse of election campaigns in France

Stating that the United States is taking advantage of Macron’s situation, the professor at the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran described France’s efforts to reduce international tensions in order to reduce their negative impact on the elections and noted: The Biden administration, knowing the acute state of the French government and its inability to tie the internal crisis to a foreign diplomatic crisis in the run-up to the elections, is exerting pressures on the country. If Macron also wants to confront the United States in this situation, he will somehow lose his international support.

He explained: Macron is facing internal and electoral pressures in this situation on the one hand, and on the other hand, the United States is abusing Macron’s need to maintain calm in relations with the international community. At the same time, France must show its independence from the United States, which has posed a challenge to the president of that country.

The analyst of France affairs, saying that France saw the sale of warships to Greece as a step towards European security independence, added: France would take over the rotating presidency of the European Union from January and that during this period, Macron tries to show his emphasis on European independent defense.

Regarding the US approach to the French elections and the desire to weaken Macron against the far right in that country, Dolatabadi said: All the presidents, from the right or the left fronts, have been the two classic wings of the French political arena, had independence from the United States and have introduced themselves within the European framework. But the far right is very skeptical of Europe and demands a more independent approach to Europe. Amid the debate over the Brexit, members of this faction, have raised the issue of withdrawal of France from the European Union.

US efforts to influence French elections

He continued: The presence of an extreme right-wing president at the helm of France’s executive power reinforces the possibility of France withdrawing the European Union, and this could be the best news for an American who wants to enslave Europe, as a few decades since the World War II; because after the establishment of the European Union and the single currency, this aspect became very faint.

Saying that the United States seeks the weakening of European ties, and a strong Europe is not pleasing the United States, the university professor said: If the United States can influence the European elections, it will not hesitate to influence the French elections, because despite the far-right president in France, it can achieve its goals in Europe and deepen its influence.

Regarding the prospects of France’s relations with the United States, especially in the run-up to the elections, Dolatabadi said: Certainly, Macron’s priority is to win the elections. On the other hand, if tensions rise, he could use anti-American discourse. We have seen the repeated reference to Charles de Gaulle’s ideas in Eric Zemmour’s campaign slogans, which could take the votes of the supporters of independent France from Macron. Therefore, at the same time, France should not get involved in diplomatic crisis, and at the same time, Macron has no alternative but to stand up to the United States.

He stressed: Macron is very lucky that during the elections, he can carry out some of his policies within the framework of European convergence by presiding over the European Union. This increases his political power and influence.

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