In a two-hour speech given to the French ambassadors gathered at the Elysee Palace, the Head of State warned that “tremendous work” awaited French diplomacy.
Posing once again as chief diplomat for the next five years, after a first term in which he was very active on the world stage, Mr. Macron made a grim observation.
“In recent years, the unthinkable has happened on several occasions” with in particular the crises of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine, he underlined from the outset.
According to him, France must establish itself as a “balanced power” at a time when “the international order is being shaken up” by Russia’s “imperialist logic”, China’s desire to “redefine the rules of the game” and “the assertion of authoritarian powers and imbalance”.
However, he “assumed” to continue the dialogue with Russia, a strategy that has been criticized since the start of the war in Ukraine.
“Who wants Turkey to be the only power in the world that continues to talk to Russia?” he said, pleading for a dialogue with Moscow “in coherence with our allies”.
– EU enlargement –
France must rely on its strengths but also on those of Europe, reiterated the French president.
He also “welcomed” the speech delivered Monday by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the future of the European Union, who delivered a plea at the beginning of the week to make the EU more effective, in particular with the end of right of veto, but also in favor of its enlargement to “30 or 36 members”.
The German Chancellor also supported Emmanuel Macron’s project for a European Political Community, a new forum open to non-EU countries, which is to meet for the first time in October in the Czech Republic, currently chairing the EU.
The Head of State also intends to fight for the Europeans to assert themselves within NATO so as not to be “simply vassalized partners” of the United States.
Alluding to the purchase of American arms by several countries, such as Germany, he called on them for “stronger coherence”: “if each European state spends more, it is not to buy non-European” , he launched.
In all areas, Emmanuel Macron asked French diplomats to adopt “a more hybrid approach” to their action, “involving more civil society” and being “more responsive on social networks”, particularly in Africa.
Because it is, according to him, to respond to “Russian, Chinese or Turkish narratives” which explain to public opinion “that France is a country which makes neo-colonization and installs its army on their soil”.
“Today we are suffering too much”, he regretted, while France was notably targeted by disinformation campaigns in Mali, against a backdrop of diplomatic tensions between Paris and Bamako.
The conference of ambassadors, which could not be held in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid-19, also allowed Emmanuel Macron to defend his controversial reform of the senior civil service, at the origin of a movement of unprecedented challenge among diplomats.
Recognizing “the trouble” it caused, he assured that it was “good for the Quai d’Orsay” because it would make French diplomacy “more agile, more expert, stronger”.
This reform provides for the “extinction” of the two historic corps of diplomacy by the end of 2023 and the creation of a new state corps. Senior civil servants will no longer be attached to a specific administration and may change during their career.
Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna is soon to launch the States General of Diplomacy with the aim of “enriching” the reform.
Emmanuel Macron is expected to increase international travel by the end of the year, going to New York for the UN General Assembly, then to the COP in Egypt, the G20 in Indonesia…