France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian issued an official communiqué in response to today’s AUKUS announcement, which included the cancellation of Australia’s contract with Naval Group for the French-designed Attack-class conventional submarine program.
Mr Le Drian statement said France took note of the decision just announced by the Australian government to stop its Future Submarine Program and to launch cooperation with the United States on nuclear-powered submarines.
“It is a decision contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust on the development of an industrial and technological base of defense of very high level in Australia,” Mr Le Drian said.
“The American choice which leads to the removal of an ally and a European partner like France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values or on respect for multilateralism based on the rule of law marks an absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret.
“While the joint communication on the European strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region is published today, France confirms its desire for very ambitious action in this region aimed at preserving everyone’s “freedom of sovereignty”.
“The only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific with nearly two million of its nationals and more than 7000 soldiers, France is a reliable partner which will continue to keep its commitments there, as it has always done.
“The regrettable decision just announced on the [Future Submarine Program] only reinforces the need to raise the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear.
“There is no other credible way to defend our interests and values in the world, including the Indo-Pacific.”