On Russia and EU Enlargement, Macron Pushes a Radical Agenda

LONDON — French President Emmanuel Macron’s stark description of the “brain death” of transatlantic navy alliance NATO grabbed headlines final week, however his views on Russia and European Union enlargement could nicely have better long-term influence.

His blunt, 8,000-word discourse with The Economist prompted soul-searching in Berlin, Brussels and different European capitals, however Moscow praised it and analysts pored over nuances, broadly seeing it as a name for Europe to chart a radical new course.

The core argument is constructed round safety and defence, with Macron positing that Europe should bolster its capability and willingness to behave, each as a result of it can’t rely eternally on an unpredictable United States, and since inside NATO it’s being hamstrung by unilateral motion like that of Turkey in Syria.

That leads him to 2 main conclusions: {that a} Europe with strengthened defence functionality and enhanced sovereignty will higher counter-balance the US and China and may reexamine strategic partnerships, together with with Russia.

And that if the European Union (EU) is to guard what it has achieved over a long time, undertaking its affect on the earth and construct a group of countries not only a market, it must consolidate positive factors and reassess its enlargement coverage.

“Europe must become autonomous in terms of military strategy and capability,” declared Macron, setting out the primary conclusion he attracts from perceived shortcomings at NATO.

“And secondly, we have to reopen a strategic dialogue, with out being naive and which can take time, with Russia.

“As a result of what all this exhibits is that we have to reappropriate our neighbourhood coverage, we can’t let it’s managed by third events who don’t share the identical pursuits.”

On Russia, Macron went into element in regards to the challenges President Vladimir Putin faces, and underlined that re-engagement may take 10 years and would have to be dealt with fastidiously. However his prescription has fallen on deaf ears with outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk.

In a speech to the Faculty of Europe on Wednesday, the previous Polish prime minister dismissed the Frenchman’s concepts, calling Russia “aggressive” and bent on undermining Europe.

“Russia shouldn’t be our ‘strategic accomplice’, however our ‘strategic drawback’,” mentioned Tusk, who has lengthy voiced the menace many Poles really feel from their former Soviet overlord.

“President Macron says that he shares the identical views on this topic as (Hungarian Prime Minister) Viktor Orban, and that he hopes that Mr Orban will assist persuade Poles to vary their place on Russia. Perhaps, however not me, Emmanuel.”


The incoming European Fee, headed by Germany’s former defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has promised to be extra “geopolitical” in nature and should take a unique strategy.

German analysts have identified that whereas Macron’s views on NATO and Russia seem radical, they coincide in lots of respects with opinions voiced by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a presumed potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It’s maybe time that France and Germany recognised simply how a lot they agree,” wrote Ulrike Franke, a fellow on the European Council on Overseas Relations, evaluating a latest speech by Kramp-Karrenbauer with Macron’s feedback.

But in Macron’s name for a pause to EU enlargement and a reopening with Russia, some analysts see an unstated assumption.

Final month, the French president stood agency at an EU summit and opposed the opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, two of six Western Balkans international locations which can be keen to start out paperwork on becoming a member of the EU.

By shutting the door, critics see Macron as implicitly surrendering turf to Russia, which has already drawn Serbia right into a commerce take care of its Eurasian Financial Union and pressured others within the area to hitch the membership.

The critics worry a destiny just like Ukraine, which signed an affiliation settlement with the EU in 2014 solely to see Moscow seize Crimea and occupy east Ukraine in response, a battle that continues and that Europe doesn’t need to be drawn into.

“The Russia query, if pushed additional, divides Europe,” Ulrich Speck, a overseas coverage analyst on the German Marshall Fund, wrote in an evaluation on Twitter, denouncing Macron’s push for a change of technique.

“Europe had an settlement, reached with a whole lot of effort primarily by Merkel and (former U.S. chief) Obama, after Russia’s assault on Ukraine. To unpack this with none clear technique and with out having help of predominant gamers is not constructive.”

France’s former ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud, factors out that EU enlargement is unpopular in France and acknowledges that the frontiers between Russia and Europe are successfully nonetheless in play.

“The basic query: Will Putin be happy with Ukraine as a buffer state between Russia and EU/NATO, or does he need it as a satellite-state?” he requested on Twitter.

The reply to that query is more likely to be formed by Macron’s imaginative and prescient of Europe’s future.

(Writing by Luke Baker; Enhancing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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