Speaking in front of a group of French ambassadors on August 27, French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe needs to create a new strategic development programme as the EU can no longer entrust its security to the US alone and offered scathing criticism of President Donald J. Trump for abandoning the seven-decade-old Trans-Atlantic alliance in favour of nationalist and isolationist domestic policies and saying that Trump had proven to be an “unreliable partner” and “turned his back on the multilateralism” that was built by the Western powers after World War II by threatening to quit NATO, pulling out of the global climate change agreement, and sabotaging the Iran nuclear deal.
“Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security. It is up to us to guarantee European security, and therefore European sovereignty,” Macron told his audience of French diplomats and foreign policy experts
Macron went on to say that a new Europe-wide defence initiative must also include areas of closer cooperation with Russia and Turkey. Any enhanced cooperation with the former, according to Macron, must be based on conditional progress being made by Moscow with regards to the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine.
“A revision of the European architecture of defence and security as a result of renewed dialogue on cybersecurity, chemical weapons, conventional weaponry, territorial conflicts, space security, the protection of the polar zones — in particular with Russia,” said Macron, who also qualified his remarks by saying that Moscow had to help put an end to a conflict that has been waging since April 2014 between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatist forces in Kyiv’s eastern Donbass region, which has killed 11,000 people – Europe’s worst war since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s – since the hostilities began.
In a 90-minute speech speech that outlined France’s foreign policy priorities for the year ahead, Macron said special attention would be paid towards ending the nearly seven-year-old conflict in Syria, and called on both Moscow and Ankara to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to put an end to large-scale fighting and do more to halt the spread of the humanitarian catastrophe in the last major opposition stronghold, northwestern Syria’s province of Idlib, where thousands of civilians, rebels, and the remnants of Islamist jihadist forces are digging in as part of the prelude for a full-scale air and offensive by Assad’s ground forces and the Russian Air Force.
“The Assad regime is threatening to create a new humanitarian tragedy in Idlib and shows no signs that it is willing to negotiate. There is a strong need to increase pressure on Assad – in this regard, I expect a lot from Russia and Turkey, considering their roles and assumed obligations concerning the matter,” said Macron, who also warned Assad against repeating his actions from April when his forces used chemical weapons against opposition forces and the civilian population in the former anti-Assad stronghold of Douma. The warning came with a reminder that France, along with the US and UK, conducted punitive joint air strikes against Damascus after the attack became known to the international community.
“We will take the same approach [joint strikes] if we see new cases of confirmed chemical attacks there (in Idlib),” Macron said. The statement came only days after US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Assad that his forces would be targeted by possible air strikes if they resorted to using chemical or biological weapons.