On the eve of a meeting between the leaders of the G7 followed by a summit of the Organization for the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO), Emmanuel Macron took place during a two-hour press conference, Thursday 10 June, the main axes of its foreign policy.
Gradual end of Operation Barkhane in the Sahel
Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that he wanted to engage “Deep transformation” of the French military presence in the Sahel by announcing the “End of Operation Barkhane as an external operation” and the implementation “An international alliance associating the States of the region” to continue the fight against terrorism and jihadist groups.
“The form of our presence, that of external operations involving more than 5,000 men, now for several years, is no longer adapted to the reality of the fighting”, he explained. The fight against terrorism will be done “With special forces structured around [l’opération] “Takuba” with, of course, a strong French component – with several hundred more soldiers – and African, European, international forces ”, specified the President of the Republic.
This decision, the modalities and timing of which should be specified before the end of June, was taken a week after Paris announced the end of its bilateral collaboration with Bamako in Mali. Emmanuel Macron, at the same time, described as ” mistake “ and of “Bad case law” the decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to recognize Colonel Assimi Goïta, invested president on June 8, following the second coup d’état in nine months in the country.
Pharmaceutical companies called on to donate 10% of their doses to poor countries
Emmanuel Macron also addressed the issue of vaccine aid to fight Covid-19, especially in Africa. On the continent, which concentrates many of the poorest countries in the world and where access to vaccines is very limited, the president wants the G7 to endorse the objective of “60% of Africans vaccinated at the end of the first quarter of 2022”, defined by the African Union crisis agency. Emmanuel Macron also put forward the goal of reaching 40% of the African population vaccinated before the end of 2021 thanks to international aid.
States should not, however, be the only ones to be involved: for the French president, pharmaceutical companies must also give doses to poor countries. “The donation of doses made by States must be supplemented by a donation of doses from pharmaceutical laboratories”, to the height of “10% of the doses sold”, defended the head of state.
The day before, US President Joe Biden announced that the United States would donate 500 million doses to poor countries as part of the Covax initiative by the end of 2022. “If they are more ambitious than us [Européens], we must join their ambition and do at least as much ”, he said, while calling the United States to lift its restrictions on the export of components which it believes have prevented the production of vaccines in third countries and are for it the most immediate priority.
The Head of State also confirmed that he supported the proposal of India and South Africa for a temporary suspension of patents on vaccines, during the crisis, which was welcomed by the NGO Oxfam. According to him, it is necessary to commit “To the World Health Organization, to the World Trade Organization, to ensure that intellectual property will never be an obstacle to access to vaccines”.
Emmanuel Macron will meet Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday
The Head of State announced that a bilateral meeting would take place with his Turkish counterpart just before the NATO summit which is due to start Monday in Brussels. “We both wanted it. I think it’s a good thing, we need to see each other and share ”, commented Emmanuel Macron. We have had controversies at times, and we embrace them, but no matter what the disagreements, we always have to talk to each other. “
Relations between the two countries have also deteriorated sharply due to disagreements over Syria, Libya and more recently over the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. In October, Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned the ” Mental Health “ of his French counterpart, accusing him of leading a “Hate campaign” against Islam, because he had defended the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad and for his speech against the “Separatism” Islamist in France.
Hate online: “We are building the worst”
Emmanuel Macron finally exploited the questions asked about the slap he received in Tain-l’Hermitage (Drôme), Tuesday, June 8, for which its author was sentenced, Thursday, to four months in prison. Not wishing “Exaggerate the scope of this act”, the President of the Republic nevertheless recalled that “Violence against those who hold public authority, either because they are civil servants or elected officials of the Republic, is unacceptable”, before continuing: “Hatred, civil violence, are justified with regard to the leaders, when one cannot change them or influence their decisions. This is not the case for France. “
During a sequence devoted to the regulation of the Internet, Emmanuel Macron addressed the subject of a necessary international framework which “Would make it possible to fight against a wildness of minds and communication and therefore, of a wildness of our new world public order.” “ On the issue of online hatred, the President said that “In-depth transformations of capitalism and the international market economy” had to take place in order to “Calm the root of anger, which is that feeling of injustice”.
According to him, “The use of social networks threatens by their functioning, our democratic life”. Before warning: “It should come as no surprise that people, when they are in the street, start behaving the same way they have for hours when they are behind or on their phone. We are rebuilding the worst. “