Australia ‘Stab in the back': Europe's fury with Morrison and Biden over AUKUS submarine deal
Australia to acquire nuclear submarines as part of new AUKUS defence pact
Australia, US and Britain have announced a far-reaching defence pact to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific, hailed as the most significant in decades.Australia is set to acquire its first fleet of highly prized nuclear-powered submarines as part of a historic new defence pact proposed by Scott Morrison to Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.
London: A furious France says Australia stabbed it in the back while the United States was accused of conducting a "hostile act" by helping sabotage a $90 billion submarine deal, as the shockwaves from the new AUKUS alliance spread across the continent on Thursday.
In June, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was secretly negotiating a deal to acquire US nuclear submarine technology with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 in Cornwall, while at the same time telling French President Emmanuel Macron that the submarine deal was back on track.
China angry after Australia signs a security alliance with US and UK
China's Washington DC embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu accused the nations of adopting a 'Cold War mentality' towards China.China's Washington DC embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu accused the nations of adopting a 'Cold War mentality' towards China in reference to the stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century.
On Thursday morning, the trio shocked France in announcing the new AUKUS defence alliance which would involve Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.
Morrison did not convey the news directly to Macron before making the public announcement. Macron is due to raise the issue at dinner with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was furious and hit the airwaves.
"It is really a stab in the back. We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed and I'm angry today, with a lot of bitterness, about this breach [of contract]," he told France Info radio.
"This is not done between allies, especially when there's been two years of negotiations for this contract."
Successful deterrence: Why AUKUS is good news for Taiwan
Australia's description of Taiwan last week as a "critical partner" marks a significant shift in language, one that will not have gone unnoticed in Beijing.In the joint statement from Australian and US defence and foreign ministers, Taiwan is described - for the first time - as "a leading democracy and a critical partner for both countries". This follows the Prime Minister's commitment to co-ordinate action with other liberal democracies in the region.
"It's a slap in our face," France's former ambassador to the US Gérard Araud told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in an interview.
He said Morrison had never given the French the impression that he could walk away from the entire contract without notice or negotiation.
"Even if you concluded that the program was wrecked it was not necessary to do it in this sort of brutal and inelegant way," he said.
"For us, Australia was the pillar of our Indo-Pacific strategy, we had the impression that we had created a political partnership with Australia, so it's really quite insulting to see overnight the Australians saying ‘we don't care'.
"Everything we have done with the Australians has been thrown overboard in a night."
When asked if the relationship was salvageable for future collaborations, Araud said: "No, no, it's not possible."
"The way it was done - the submarines we were selling were nuclear-powered - why didn't Australia take France on board? Why? Not only did they scrap the contract, they are kicking the French out.
We may never have Paris again: Australia grapples with the consequences of sinking subs
Now that Australia has, rather abruptly, backed out of a $90b submarine deal, what does this mean for our future relationship with France?“Both sides committed to deepen defence industry cooperation and enhance their capability edge in the region. Ministers underlined the importance of the Future Submarine program,” a statement released says.
"There was no reason why we shouldn't be part of this new game."
He said the damage was not just confined to the Australia-France relationship. France's Foreign Minister said Biden's secret negotiations were something former US president Donald Trump would do.
Araud said it was a "hostile act" from the United States.
"The US has trampled our national interest. What the US has done to our national interest is a hostile act," he said.
"What we were doing with the Australians was a strategic choice and this strategic choice has been swept away, not only by the Australians but also by the Americans."
He said the British involvement was immaterial because they were "poodles of the Americans, as usual".
In London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under pressure to declare that the relationship with France was "rock solid", while Defence Secretary Ben Wallace conceded "if it had happened to us, I would have been deeply disappointed [for Britain's defence industry]."
Former British prime minister Theresa May asked if the agreement would result in Britain being dragged into military conflict if China invaded Taiwan.
Defiant PM lands in New York
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has landed in New York for key security discussions with US President Joe Biden, and immediately got on the front foot over the contentious nuclear submarine issue.Speaking on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Mr Morrison was adamant that dropping the French submarine deal was the right thing to do for Australia, despite the diplomatic fallout with France and potentially Europe.
The fallout overshadowed the European Commission's new Indo-Pacific strategy unveiled in Brussels which expressed interest in joint maritime exercises with its partners in the region, including Australia.
Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the Commission, was repeatedly questioned about the AUKUS alliance as he unveiled the new European strategy.
"I suppose that a deal like that wasn't cooked the day before yesterday," Borrell said. "Despite that, we weren't informed."
The communiqué also stated that concluding a free trade agreement with Australia was one of its objectives and assured Australia that the security pact would not affect the future of those negotiations.
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How can Australia repair its relationship with France after the AUKUS submarine row? .
The French government responded with fury to the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine pact. What might Paris do in retaliation, and can Australia do anything to appease it?"The French are very upset because [they] thought we had established a genuine, positive relationship with Australia," Dr Fathi said.