“Stab in the back,” says France after Australia leaves

Paris was heavily criticized after Australia abandoned a 2016 deal with French company Naval Group to revamp its submarine fleet. The deal had a budget of approximately US$90 billion, around R$470 billion. Australians opted to join the “Aukus” military pact signed with the United States and the United Kingdom.

“It really is a stab in the back. We have established a relationship of trust with Australia, that trust has been betrayed,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the French press, according to The Guardian newspaper.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said in a joint statement with the chancellor that Canberra’s decision is “regrettable” and weakens “European strategic autonomy.”

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The Naval Group has an agreement with the Brazilian Navy, which also provides for the renewal of the Brazilian submarine fleet and the construction of a nuclear-powered submarine in Brazil, as well as deals with India, Malaysia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Egypt.

At a remote joint press conference, US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the creation of the Aukus and the construction of submarines nuclear weapons on Australian soil.

“We need to be able to address the current strategic environment in the region and how it can evolve, because the future of each of our nations, and indeed the world, depends on a free and open, lasting and flourishing Indo-Pacific in the decades ahead,” said Biden.

Although China was not mentioned at the press conference, the announcement comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions in the South China Sea. The area is an important navigation route and a focus of tension between countries in the region.

Edition: Arturo Hartmann

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