Australia and the submarine agreement

 

Sir, – I wish to respond to the letter to your editor from the Australian ambassador published on October 13th concerning the “submarine agreement” and in particular to the remark made stating that this decision “should not be a matter of concern”.

On the contrary, as initially reported by The Irish Times, the unilateral decision of the Australian government not to honour the submarine contract signed with France in 2016 and to acquire nuclear-powered submarines from the US is an issue of great concern to France and the European Union.

It is of course the sovereign right of any government to conclude any military alliance with another government and to change its defence strategy. However, it is a very severe breach of trust when a long-term partner like Australia fails to first inform the French government that an important military contract established in the context of a long-term partnership is, as a consequence of this, no longer to be honoured and, furthermore decides to no longer include France and the European Union in its strategic approach to the region.

It should be borne in mind that the EU is by far the first provider of foreign direct investment and development assistance in the Indo-Pacific region. It has strategic interests there, as specified by the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy unveiled on September 16th. France has always been and will remain a country of the Indo-Pacific region with close to two million French citizens living permanently in the region, 1.6 million of whom live in French territories. The French Exclusive Economic Zone in the Pacific Ocean alone covers seven million kilometres, one of the largest zones in the region.

Whenever friends and allies like Australia decide to ignore the interests and the contributions the EU can offer, this is indeed a matter of concern for all Europeans. – Yours, etc,

VINCENT GUÉREND,

Ambassador of France

to Ireland,

Dublin 2.