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French President Emmanuel Macron wants to assert Europe’s strategic autonomy. Photo / Getty Images
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta travels to Paris later this month to attend a French-led forum designed to build a coalition of like-minded Indo-Pacific states that support the rule-based multilateral order.
will be led by France in its role as President of the Council of the European Union, a role that rotates around all 27 EU Member States, each given the title for a period of six months.
The forum will bring together foreign ministers from several Indo-Pacific countries with European diplomats and officials, including foreign ministers from the 27 EU Member States, senior officials in foreign affairs from the EU itself, including the Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
It is understood that Mahuta has been invited to the meeting to be held in Paris on 22 February and that she plans to attend.
Two aspects of the guest list have aroused the interest of foreign observers.
The first is France’s decision to extend an invitation to Australia following the fallout of the Aukus Alliance, when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison abruptly signed an agreement to buy conventionally powered submarines from France in favor of a nuclear sub-agreement with the United States and the United States. The United Kingdom.
Also notable is France’s decision not to invite two Indo-Pacific powers: China and the United States.
Professor Anne-Marie Brady at Canterbury University says letting these two nations out of the guest list is “not so much a trick as a tactic to build a group of small and medium-sized states that can then enter into dialogue with the great powers. “.
She added that leaving China and the United States out of the forum was “a way of not getting stuck in the US-China confrontation while talking about the core issues”.
French President Emmanuel Macron supports the promotion of the EU’s strategic autonomy, a concept that means the bloc can function without being dependent on old defense and trade relations with other powers such as the United States and China. This has become more and more relevant as American isolationism has made it a less reliable security partner, and China’s increasingly uncompromising human rights record and militarism make it a complicated trading partner.
“Macron promotes the importance of a multipolar order,” Brady said.
“France is trying to play a mediating role internationally and unite a broad coalition of like-minded states that support the rules-based multilateral order. France, like many countries, including New Zealand, fears a return to the era of ‘may’ be right,” she said.
Macron signed France’s foreign policy up to the “Indo-Pacific” concept, which had been more traditionally associated with Japan and Australia. New Zealand has also become a supporter of the concept – which means something a little different for each nation that backs it.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last year that “we have embraced the concept of an Indo-Pacific as the broader home of New Zealand, placing Aotearoa in a larger ecosystem of nations and regions that include East Asia, the Pacific, the Indian subcontinent and the Pacific Rim” .
Mahuta tweeted support for the US Indo-Pacific strategy yesterday.
China is less of a fan, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has dismissed the concept as an “attention-grabbing idea” that “will disappear like sea foam.”
France is also committed to promoting the “Global Gateway” scheme, which is designed to promise sustainable infrastructure. Politico reported that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it would be an alternative to “dependence” on China.
Brady said it was important that New Zealand decided to join because its security “depends on the rule-based, multilateral order”.
“New Zealand and France have already partnered on Christchurch Call, a broad coalition of states and technology companies that have joined forces to eliminate terrorism and violent extremism online.
“It is clear that France appreciates New Zealand’s support in this new initiative,” she said.
The turn comes as the government steps up its strategy to reconnect with the post-pandemic world. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday that she would fly to the United States in May to take on trade engagement on the West Coast with a focus on New Zealand’s high-tech export sectors.
She will also take a trip to the East Coast, where she will be the keynote speaker at Harvard University’s Commencement in May.